BKK Tour – Bangkok (10/2)

In order to see the beauty of these temples, you’ll want to click on each photo.

JANE:  Breakfast this morning offered choices of provender such as miso soup, grilled fish, sushi, congee (a rice porridge), custom-made omelets, French toast, waffles, pancakes, dragon fruit, mangosteen, guava, pineapple…the fruits are so much more flavorful and juicy than those back home…yogurts with a variety of toppings, juices were watermelon, mixed, fruit, and carrot juice, homemade bread for toast, pastries, muffins, croissants (including CHOCOLATE), and coffee.  Not to worry, we didn’t sample the entire menu.

Our private guide, Miss Pu, and driver picked us up at 9:00 a.m. to tour several royal temples.  Weather was 90 (F), heavy and humid.  We toured the Royal Grand Palace and the Royal Temple.  We also visited the Temple of the Reclining Buddha aka Wat Po, one of the largest and oldest temples in Bangkok and still an important center for traditional Thai Medicine and Thai Massage School.

I particularly loved the reclining 160-foot-long Buddha image because he was so huge and had such a sweet face.

The back of the feet is mother of pearl.

Miss Pu taught us how to pray in the temples:  facing the Buddha, kneeling, placing your palms together with the thumbs touching the forehead, and then bowing, head to floor with hands flat on the floor, back and forth three times.  KOJI: It is important when sitting in front of a Buddha to not point your feet towards the Buddha.  In Thai culture, it is a huge faux pas to do so.  JANE:  I have lived in Japan and have traveled to Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines,  and Dubai, and Thailand is by far my favorite.  It feels so much more spiritual, and so many of the people exude an energy that speaks to me.  KOJI:  I agree with my Mom. Thailand really has that spiritual feeling that draws you in. I think the fact that the country was never successfully colonized gives it its unique character.  Many of Asia’s colonized countries exhibit some of the less desirable characteristics of the colonizer’s country.

JANE:  Behind the following Buddha images are small individual family vaults that house the ashes of ancestors who have passed away:

Buddhist monks, of course, are exempt.  Click on photo to see what I mean:

The temple tours ended with a torrential rain storm, it being the rainy season after all, which cooled off the temperature by about five degrees.  After the rain, we took a tuktuk to a restaurant for lunch.  A tuktuk is like a beat-up, miniature open-air jeep that weaves in and out of traffic at top speed…basically an auto-rickshaw.  Plan to hold on for your life if you ever ride in one.  Several tuktuk drivers refused to pick us up when they saw we were with our Thai tour guide, knowing that they wouldn’t be able to rip us off.  Eventually, we found an agreeable driver.  KOJI:  Although tuktuks are slower, hotter, and more dangerous than taxis, the novelty attracts tourists, and thus, tuktuk drivers like to charge a premium vs taxis.

JANE:  We ate lunch at a restaurant outside by a river.  A table of six Japanese men and a transvestite sat at the next table.  Apparently Thailand is known for some of the best medical care when it comes to getting sex changes.  Koji and I shared crab fried rice and a huge fish, a grouper, deep fried with sweet and sour sauce…served on a plate…head and all…in true Asian fashion.

Grouper – tasty, spicy, filling, fresh…

After lunch, we hired a private, motorized long boat to explore the canals. Houses were built on stilts, literally on the water.  Some were homes of the wealthy, most were homes of the poor, and quite a few, collapsed and abandoned. It was heartbreaking to see women washing their clothing in such dirty, polluted water.  I felt fortunate to have a washer and dryer so easily accessible in my condo back home.

A couple from China pulled up beside out boat and asked if we were going to a floating market.  They looked worried because they couldn’t speak Thai and consequently, couldn’t communicate very well with the driver of their boat, who had somehow indicated he would be taking them to a floating market.  Our tour guide vaguely told them that we were taking a different route from them.  Koji picked up on what was really going on, and after we left this couple, asked Miss Pu if their driver was ripping them off.  Apparently, this was the case because there was no floating market on this particular tour (and we weren’t on a different one).  We ran across this same couple later, two boats away from us, and hoped they wouldn’t notice us.  Thankfully, they didn’t.

The tour ended with a walk through the biggest vegetable and flower market (Pak Klong Talad Market) I have ever seen.  (Photos of the flowers are on the “Flowers” page.)  The aroma was delightful and the variety of colors, almost blinding.

Koji and I ended our day with a foot massage (Check out the “Thai Massages” page for some humorous stories…), fine dining and a live jazz band at the Sirocco Restaurant on the rooftop of a 64-floor skyscraper, with a 360 degree view of Bangkok.  As always, Koji does it in style!  KOJI:  For those of you that have seen the movie Hangover 2, there are a bunch of scenes from the movie that are shot at Sirocco, in my opinion the best restaurant for views in the world.

JANE:  P.S.  Just had to include this last shot of a beautiful young woman in a beautiful dress, entertaining a man, over-weight, probably in his 60s, celebrating his birthday.  Must be true love?  KOJI: Who says money can’t buy love?   Although to her credit, when the check came, she paid herself, as it was his birthday.  You have to spend money to make money!


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