After being at the beach for so long and then after the wilds of the jungle, we were looking forward to spending some time in a nice, big city. Leaving Khao Sok, we slept with the roaches in the first class compartment on an overnight train (I hate to see what second class is like!) and then we arrived early the next morning in Bangkok. We initially thought about staying in a hotel in Khao San Road, Bangkok's tourist ghetto made famous by the book The Beach. However, after seeing it early the morning we arrived, we decided it wasn't our scene so we headed to a more convenient hotel right by two subway lines. Another day we visited Khao San Road during the afternoon once the city had woken up and I have never seen a place so touristy! We definitely made the right decision to stay in a different neighborhood.
So what did we do in Bangkok? Well we saw some markets, and then saw some temples, and then we saw some more markets, and then we saw some more temples.... I think you get the point!
One of the first markets we saw was the MBK mall right around the corner from our hotel. The mall had a pretty good authentic food court which we enjoyed a couple of times. Of course, we are awful at taking food pictures (it seems we are always too hungry to take pictures first!) so we don't have any. The mall also boasted a Starbucks, Dairy Queen, McDonald's and Auntie Anne's pretzel shop. Luckily we managed to evade all of these places except one quick blizzard at DQ (sorry, we are weak sometimes!). Tom was also able to shop for some new shoes:
Although heading to the mall doesn't really sound like a cultural experience we have found from our travels that it can be. Seeing capitalism at work, watching the older white men parading around young Thai women (we estimated at least half of them had to be prostitutes given the city's reputation and age disparities) and seeing all of the mixed ethnicities that make up Bangkok was quite educational, especially the large Indian population. The other good part of the mall was the fact that they had a Canon store. I have a bit of dust inside my camera that has shown up in every picture for the last few months. I have had to go in and edit it out on every picture so getting my camera cleaned was one my highlights of Bangkok. You can see the offensive dust spot in the upper left corner of the sky here:
Besides the mall, we headed to one of the largest markets in the world, the Chatuchak weekend market. You can get everything there. Like this:
And these (usually fruit at markets is fresh but in this case you can purchase some nice fake stuff):
I really wanted to get one of these:
And of course there were these guys:
Yes they sold pets at this market. They looked hot, and I am sure they were not raised properly, probably in some puppy mill somewhere, but they sure were awfully cute.
There were also some interesting pet squirrels available for purchase at the market. They even had little outfits and hats for sale that you could dress them up. We weren't supposed to take pictures but I did get this one blurry shot. So to those of you out there pining for a pet squirrel you now know where to go!
Of all of the markets we've been to in our trip, this one was the most impressive in its sheer size and the fact that there was actually a lot of stuff we wanted to buy! Designer clothes, purses, shoes, etc were for sale and they were really nice. But alas no room allowed in our backpacks so we passed on purchasing anything besides some patches of the countries we've visited.
So now you saw some of the markets we've experienced, what else did we see? Oh that is right, temples! We first did a walking tour of the city and saw Wat Tramit which was impressive for its giant solid gold Buddha. Once covered in stucco to hide it from looters, they had no idea it was solid gold underneath until a crane dropped it when moving it and it cracked open.
But what about the markets? On our walk, we checked out a local market which seemed to sell mainly baubles and sparkly things (and yes that is Tom's head - his hair is getting long!).
Enough markets! Time for another temple. So we headed to Wat Pho to see the giant reclining Buddha and to enjoy the beautiful decorations on the temple buildings.
The Buddha's feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl:
Finally, we hit up the Chinese market where there was a huge variety of food items I couldn't even identify!
Chinese and Thai signs:
Although after a while we may have gotten slightly templed and marketed out, and tired of making the joke to each other "Wat did you say?", we had a great time exploring Bangkok and enjoying the sites of a bigger city. But that's not all we did...