Sunday, February 20, 2011

Down But Now Up

Good Lord folks I don't know how to describe the beginning of this journey other than fog like. We arrived to our hotel in Bangkok at 2:AM after being en route for over 26 hours. Like punch drunk boxers we hit the mat in our hotel room but the bell for the next round rung our internal clocks at 7AM and actually we didn't feel all that bad. Friday was a special holiday in Thailand, the celebration of Buddha which attracts believers from all over Asia to Bangkok so they can visit the many extraordinary temples within this very large city.

River Taxi
I started with a quick internet search of local transportation and found their light rail known as SkyTrain is cheap, fast, and very efficient. Sharon and I left our hotel via the complimentary Tuk Tuk service to the Nana station, took the stairs up to the platform, figured out what zone and what the cost of the tickets to get there. The train zoomed up, we boarded and off we flew over the city to the Chao Phraya River, bounced down the stairs and purchased an all day ticket on the shuttle boats delivering everyone up and down the river at 18 or more piers on each side of the river. This is a very busy waterway for transportation not only for people, but long barges of goods being towed to a market or warehouse somewhere.

Bangkok Temple of white Carrera Marble from Italy
With some of the notes I made from my internet search and the tourist brochure from our boat ticket purchase we decided to disembark at Pier 8, Wat Pho where the gargantuan reclining Buddha lies. Massive amounts of tour buses deposit thousands of tourists to this site but the crowd was well directed and obedient allowing all to pass around this incredible statue housed in an equally beautiful temple. The whole complex consisted of many temples and countless forms of Buddha.

Reclining Buddha
After getting ourselves lost and regaining our bearings, we began to walk to another site up the river. The weather was nice...a bit warm....a little humid and we didn't know exactly where we were going but as the travels gods have done so many times in the past, they sent an angel in the form of a Tourist Policeman who happened to walk past us the opposite way, turned back and asked if we needed some help. He immediately went out of his way to make certain we had a reputable Tuk Tuk driver, told him where to go and negotiated a base cost and wished us on our way. Of course we were now in the hands of a Tuk Tuk operator serpentining the crowded boulevards and back alleyways. At each stop he would explain the best he could what we were to see. This went on for hours and at one site, a temple located off a small alley we returned to our driver after viewing the temple to which he asked if we could wait for a few minutes...I believe he had to relieve himself. While waiting Sharon and I clowned around with me being the driver of the Tuk Tuk and she was my passenger. A nice looking young man in his late twenties asked if he could take a photo for us which we obliged. After the photo session he introduced himself and after finding out he was from Singapore, worked in the silicon valley in California for a few years but now lives in London. He asked if we were aware that today was the last day for a year to which tourists can purchase gem stone jewelry at wholesale prices which he does every year. He suggested  the place and when our driver returned the young man told the driver the name of the shop and the address. Our driver knew exactly where it was so off we went to the Premier Sapphire Company LTD to make our purchase. After selecting a couple pieces, then came all the paperwork and documentation. The saleswoman was extremely efficient and apologetic about all the forms but this was a special that is not available until same time next year and they document everything since these gemstones are regulated by the Thai government.

Our Tuk Tuk driver with a happy Sharon
Once we completed out purchase, we attempted to see a mansion of royalty but it was closed so we asked to be dropped off at the nearest pier to catch a boat into central Bangkok and board the train back to our hotel. Once off the boat Sharon was hungry so we got some Indian food then stepped upon the train and all was good until we left the train station. Neither of us could remember exactly where our hotel was. I tried to remember when we were dropped off early in the morning was now dark and to be honest...our hotel was in the middle of the sex trade district so the activity at night puts a whole new spin on walking the streets. After an hour of asking directions which no one wants to give you and walking the neighborhood streets knowing we were very close but because of the dense population of high rise hotels you can't really see, we finally got to our hotel and I collapsed not totally from the days activity but from a deep ache in my muscles all over. Half way through the night my body was on fire. The next day was a blur with Sharon following suit by 9AM. Both of us down with the flu. If you have to be sick while traveling, make it happen in a decent hotel with a clean bathroom in your room, airconditioning, and TV to numb your brain when you're awake.

Today is my first day on my feet and we have decided to move out of Bangkok to a UNESCO heritage site half way to Chiang Mai called Sukhothai. This ancient temple site is located in a tropical setting which is way better than the concrete jungle of Bangkok. In thirty minutes we take a taxi to the bus station and off we go five hours into the central area of Thailand.


  1. Super description of your time so far. Love the reclining Buddha. Sorry you two were sick. I kept expecting the sickness to begin BEFORE you got back to the nice hotel; lucky you, for small blessings. Take care now. Love, Leslie

  2. I am so glad to hear that you are both well again. I get worried but at least you won't have to do it again...
    Are you getting my emails? Miss you mucho!

  3. Happy to hear you are both back in the pink and your adventure continues. I've always loved the tuk tuk vehicle, bring one home. Fabulous photos!