Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thai'd to the Wheel

Saturday arose, gloomy, hot and humid, and we set off to try to find the Palace and Wat Pho.

I had a map and my innate sense of good directions. Consequently we got rather lost. We set off on a course just about 30 degrees to the right of where we should have been going. No biggie, except in sweat and Yvonne's panic, because we hit the river (kind of hard to miss) and I figured out that we had wandered about a kilometer off target.

We adjusted, and as we came to the bridge spotted two cool Wats (he's on first, you see!) which we checked out before walking across the river. Then, off to the left where we threaded our way through the SOME FAMOUS Market. The markets here make the ones in Korea seem limited (so many more kinds of food) but also make the ones in Korea seem spacious, as the walkway between stalls was often nearly indistinguishable from the stalls themselves.

It was godawfully hot and humid, and we each drank water continuously. After a breakfast/lunch of barbequed pig and pig-skin, we got to Wat Pho, one of the most famous of the Bangkok Wats. It has the famous Reclining Buddha which is epic (when I get back home I'll post pics) and tons of cute little semi-wild cats. What was kind of weird was that the further back you got into the Wat, the more epically the tourist count dropped off. This was less than a kilometer deep, but by the time you got to the back, you could take photos with no people in them.

Then it was off to the Palace, another "must see" for tourists. One thing we noticed was that Americans have fallen far, far back in the most obnoxious tourist competition. We are still the fattest by a country-mile, but Germans and French tourists were completely out of their minds. The Thai people want respect in their Wats and palace and have a dress code - some of the G/F guys were dressed like they had come through a shredder, and some of the women would have been propositioned on any major street corner in any major town. Kind of appalling.

There were several touts outside the Palace (the signs on the Palace warned us not to trust "wily strangers") and each time a tout spoke Yvonne was magically hypnotized and wandered over to them to talk. No amount of my hissing seemed to be able to stop her.

We walked into the Wat and were quickly overwhelmed. The architecture is interesting, but there is so much of it packed so tightly that its an overdose. The first spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, but the 20th spoonful induces vomiting. In one way it reminded me of Disneyland - if Disney and the Keebler elves had gotten ripped to the tits on LSD and gone mad with frosting and gold spraypaint.

This may be a result of having lived in Korea for so long - since Korea has very simple architecture even in temples, and much of the 'practical' architecture in Korea is simple to the point of verging on Soviet (USSR era).

Then it was in to the Palace, which was a bit more restrained, but many parts were closed off.

We got out of the Palace, and grabbed a tuk-tuk (little wheeled motorcyle cart) back to the hotel. It was more expensive than a taxi, but you kind of have to do it once in Bangkok or you haven't had the tourist experience: By which I mean spending 15 terrifying minutes careening through chaotic traffic, concentrating tightly (ahem) on keeping various body sphincters closed.

I was sunburned as could be, and we ordered in delivery food from a local A&W. Who knew?

Then it was off to bed - the hotel is minimalist, but very quiet, which is a darned fine thing!

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