One (last) Night in Bangkok
And I promise the cheesy titles playing on the Murray Head song will stop.
But seriously, what happened to that guy?
Rattanakosin, Bangkok’s Old City, holds some of the city’s deepest history including the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew (the city’s most highly regarded Buddhist temple in Thailand – and is it something!) as well as Wat Pho, a university that holds a humongous 15-meter high gold Buddha.
Aware that we were not dressed appropriately to enter the temples, we set out to discover Bangkok’s old town and temples from an outside perspective, as well as discover the floating markets, and some of the street culture there. It was the hottest day of our trip there at about 110 degrees F with a high humidity.
The temples cost about 100 baht for entrance ($3) and from what we could see of the outside, the inside must be absolutely stunning. We opted to take a boat down the Chao Phraya River to see the temples, but a cab will get you there just fine. Where we landed was a completely different side of the city. We walked around the dark, low-roofed market outside and around the streets, where hot food was cooked and vegetables, and all kinds of dried fish was sold. It was obviously a much poorer and working-class inhabited area of the city, despite the massive gold temples. We passed an alleyway and I remember glancing down the residential street, and caught eyes with a mother holding her small child at ‘home’ in an old wood shack leaning against a building. Riding in the sky train or even on the leisurely boat ride over, it’s difficult to keep in mind we were in a country with some booming business and success, as well as some very real poverty problems.
We heard about the Floating Markets, which have become more of a tourist market than local secret. Here, local vendors, and growers of tropical fruits and vegetables, bakers, cooks and the like sell their products on elongated narrow wood boats. There are several markets, and they are all different so be sure to research them before and choose the one that most interests you. In the postcard-perfect picture, these boats drift side by side as Thais and tourists trade or pay for the fresh goods. On our own private gondola like boat, the driver navigated from the back, smiling, shirt waving in the hot wind.
It was our last night there and my cousin and his girlfriend were going to show us an upscale Thai restaurant and probably a drink after. We enjoyed dishes – the chicken knuckles stand out, but were delicious. We strolled just a couple blocks away to an open air, half inside, half outside bar, with loungy chairs on the patio. We took our seats and ordered: one bottle of whiskey, one bottle of coca-cola and one bucket of ice.
Here you go, mix your own! My cousin made four drinks and we clinked glasses to fantastic visit. He explained that at bars, patrons order a bottle of booze, our’s was the SangSom whiskey (although it’s made from molasses which technically makes them rum but I digress…) and groups can mix their own drinks, strong or weak. If the bottle is not finished, the bar labels it with your name, so when you return, “there’s a whiskey bottle with your name on it!”
And I’m done.