Almost through with my 2nd day in Thailand and oh the sights I’ve seen. Some things our brains just can’t imagine if we didn’t see them ourselves. Strangers helping strangers up stairs with a piggy-back, food cart owners handing small bowls of food to beggars on the street (real beggar with few limbs, if any, lying face down on the sidewalks), and monks and prostitutes laughing together on the same street corner.
I started today aiming to see the famous golden reclining Buddha temple (approx 7km away) and then wanting to meetup with a friend I have been talking to on FB that lives here to learn to play rugby with a few of his friends. I showered, answered a few emails, packed my backpack and said goodbye to my hostel.
My 1st stop was to the closest shopping mall. On my way there I picked up a few delightful treats to eat (fruits and meat pastries) and of course a bottle of drinking water at the nearest 7/11. During my 2km walk to the mall I passed 7 small and peaceful outdoor golden shines that adorned local business with offerings of incense and fruit, 4 outdoor street markets, multiple animal shaped bushes, got caught in Thailand’s famous rain storms (lasting only minutes before the sun was back), and too many tuk-tuks (motorized pedi-cabs) to count.
Apparently I stick out like a ghost because everyone keeps asking me, “Where are you going? Where can I take you? Let me take you somewhere.” No, no I’ll keep walking this way. Kap Kum Krap! (thank you)
Before I arrived to the mall I couldn’t resist a sign that read “Snake Farm and Milking”. My brain immediately steered me into the building as if on auto-pilot. The $3 fee was well worth the 3 floors of live snakes, exhibitions, venom milking, snake handling fun that I saw. Even witnessed a man charm a Cobra, no flute needed.
An hour later I walked next door to the mall and was surprised to see stores similar to what we have in the US. However this mall was 5 stories tall, round as a beer can, and of course rocked a large golden shine in the middle. Never once during this trip have I felt unsafe, I believe it is due to the majority of peaceful Buddhists here.
Not finding a cell phone that I liked in the mall I decided to make my way to the Golden Buddha temple I had started my day in search of. My written directions in hand of how to get there I proceed down Silom Street heading NW. I made my first turn correctly then got super-lost in China Town.
China town is hugeeee here, comprising of what seems like 5-6 square km of repeating knick-knack shops, herbal remedy stores (drank goat-lip tea for health), tire shops, pictures of the king and queen, and stands selling fresh fruits, juices, meats, and nuts.
Traversing China town my memorable moments were seeing almost no white-people, seeing many women that reminded me of another Asian I knew, the relaxed nature of Asian-culture with beds in their shops – just laying around seemingly doing nothing (likely due to the summer heat) and the smiles on almost everyone’s faces. However my search for the golden Buddha was becoming a real challenge with the 30lb bag on my back now beginning to feel like 80lbs, my light blue shirt turning a deep-sea-blue from excess sweat, and my smile slowing turning into a look of pain from my slightly sore feet.
After a good walk-workout that I was happy with I hailed a taxi and ask him to “please take me to the Grand Palace”. With a look of complete confusion he said he didn’t know and we looked at each other in odd silence. I then did my best charades-game to mime “Grand Palace” to no avail. I figured I would look up the translation later (Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang) and instead would head to my friend Ivo’s home as it was already getting close to 2pm and rugby started at 4pm. I gave him the address I wrote down on a piece of paper of Ivo’s home in the city. He looked at the paper, looked at me, looked at the paper, looked at me, and said he did not know this place either. Feeling a little worn down I thought quickly and produced my ticket from the Snake farm and ask him to take me back there.
We arrived at the farm minutes later. It is amazing with all the people here, with all the moped, all the cars, and all the taxis in the mix there are little if any accidents. More surprising still almost no horns blowing, when I did here a horn it was a friendly “toot toot” and not an overbearing long-lasting honk.
From the snake farm I headed SE back to the hostel I just checked out hours before in hopes they still had vacancies. On the way I passed 2 English friends I met earlier in the day. We stopped to have a drink and of course get a foot/thai massage after this long sight-seeing day. The Thais know how to treat a fella, and ladies too.
After arriving back at the hostel I purchased a bed for the night, showered, started a load of clothes and popped out to grab a bite to eat. I decided to play it safe and ordered the Pad Thai with a Shingha beer. Perhaps this was the best part of my day so far – a beer in one hand and a good book in the other (The Paradox of Choice) watching the oranges and magentas of the setting sun beaming off the downtown Bangkok buildings as I watched watching cars, moped, and bicycles weave their way perfectly in front of me while eating outside with my just-massaged feet propped up. Best Pad Thai ever btw!
Lastly, before writing this post back in my hostel I walked passed a beautifully ornamented castle of a temple. This temple is located caddy-corner to my hostel and has been pleasantly waking me up every morning around 8am with music I can only describe as slow-Indian-type music, likely a mixture of bells, angelic voices, soft drums, and crystal-wine-glass music combined.
Noticing the mass of people, shoes lined up outside, and louder music than normal I stopped to observe the rituals happening inside. Before I saw him approach a Monk ushered me inside and I sat for 20 minutes until the prayer was over. Even now I can here the music from my hostel’s great room.
Looking forward to tomorrow and what surprises are in store. It’s Friday night here and my 2 English chaps are asking me to join them out for the night. Should I go… I think I will.
Miss everyone back home. Thanks for reading.