January 29, 2014

A grand day

More colour than you can imagine in Bangkok

After our long day yesterday we decided to have a little lie-in and didn’t get going until 10am. We stopped around the corner at a local cafe for an iced coffee which was completely amazing. Then headed over to our favourite food market where we feasted on dumplings, oranges, pineapple, fried bananas and some delicious sesame dough balls.

Today was the day we planned to visit the Grand Palace, on our way there we passed Wat Ratchapradit and popped in for a look. Unfortunately while we were visiting Thailand, Bangkok in particular, was *still is* having political issues so quite a few of these area’s that are so beautiful are surrounded by barbed wire, this was the case here. On we headed to the Grand Palace, avoiding the TukTuk and touts along the way, we were warned that the queue would take 3 hours and we’d never get in the way we were dressed, if we went with them, they’d take us to another palace with no queues, etc… We politely said we’d take our chances at the Grand Palace and pushed on. When we arrived, there was no queue, however we were dressed inappropriately (shoulders and knees need to be covered) but this was no problem, as they loan you a robe to cover up while in the temples.

The place was amazing, reminded me of visiting Versaille with all of it’s intricate decorating. When we were finished roaming the temples and gardens we headed in for some ice cream to cool off. I got a crazy azuki (red bean) Popsicle which was kinda good… After cooling off we headed over to the textile museum which was much more than textiles. We learned why the queen and king are loved so much and how the textiles are a vital industry for Thailand, especially to it’s women.

The museum’s mission is to collect, display, preserve, and serve as a center for all who wish to learn about textiles, past and present, from Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East Asia, with a special emphasis on the textiles of, and related to, the royal court and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. Additionally, its goal is to create public awareness of Thai identity 
and culture, and the beauty of Thai traditional textiles, through research, exhibition, 
and interpretation. (source)

Around 3pm we left the grounds of the Grand Palace in search of the Giant Swing however in true tourist nature we got very lost. With the help of a monk we were set in the right direction. We finally found the swing in the middle of a very busy round-a-bout. The swing was constructed in 1784 to celebrate Shiva descending to earth, in the ceremony men would swing, trying to grab a bag of coins placed on one of the pillars. However, the tradition was permanently discontinued in 1935, after several fatal accidents. Across from the swing is Wat Suthat another beautiful and very serene temple with very few people giving a much better idea of what the temples originally were like before the arrival of so many tourists.

Now we were hungry, new mission: Pad Thai.
Mission failed: lost again.

We did manage to find a protest site. Which we quickly walked through on our way across the canal heading towards the Golden Mount (Wat Saket). We climbed the steps, stopping half way for a coffee/banana frappe and some dumplings to keep us going. We reached the top just in time for sunset, lingering for a while until we (and the rest of the tourists, including monks) were kicked out. We then meandered the streets back in the direction of our hotel. Exhausted and still with out dinner we reached our hotel around 9pm.

We washed Bangkok off of us and set off to find some dinner. We didn’t have to go far, two alley’s down from our hotel Rebecca noticed some fairy lights around a few tables, we headed towards them and found a little street restaurant, without much english our waitress smiled and gave us “menu’s with pictures” we pointed at pictures and soon had food! Love how that works. My chicken curry was extra spicy, Rebecca’s Pad Thai was delicious and the beer was very refreshing. For the evenings entertainment, there were a set of kittens playing under the table next to us.

With a little more energy in our systems we decided to head down to the local flower market, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. BEAUTIFUL! An entire city market with nothing but flowers. Both sides of the street are filled with hundreds of stalls with mostly women smiling and chatting way while arranging the flowers. We spent about 2 hours walking through all the stalls, such a wonderful place full of life, colour, skill and beauty.

With our feet ready to fall off we grabbed some last minute snacks and water, I also picked up a pair of amazing cat tights and headed home. Our last night in Bangkok was a complete success.

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