After our Australia trip we continued our travels one week later, due to my work schedule, with a trip to Bangkok.
I worked in Bangkok on Thursday and Friday, visiting clients and having internal meetings while also going to dinners with coworkers and keeping myself busy.
Then Carrie flew up and joined me in Bangkok and we were able to enjoy the weekend together touring around Thailand with some of my local Thai coworkers.
Before I get to the weekend, I have to describe a wonderful and exhilarating experience that I had while going from work to the hotel to meet Carrie, whom had checked into.
If any of you have been to Bangkok, you are well aware of the horrible traffic jams especially around commute hours. No Joke, it can take you an hour to go 6 blocks. You sit angrily in your taxi watching the meter tick away the minutes as motorcycle after motorcycle whizzes past your windows and through the traffic. It was 5pm, I was done for the day and ready to start my weekend. Rather than take a taxi, you guessed it…I took a motorcycle taxi from work to the hotel in the rain and through the I traffic jam! I had this ingenious idea earlier in the day and asked my coworkers whether I could take a mototaxi and whether it was safe to use. They looked rather skeptically at me and most of them said yes it was safe for a short distance, the driver would provide me a helmet, and that I had to negotiate on the price beforehand. I was not altogether reassured when a few of them (all local Thais) had not even taken the mototaxis themselves. See a few photos of what a motorcycle taxi is below (I did not have any witnesses to take photos on this trip).
Regardless of the danger, or maybe because of it, I took the opportunity to ride like a crazy local through the sprawl of Bangkok and besides it probably saved me 30 minutes of time. It was interesting trying to barter with the taxi driver who spoke little English and barely knew where I was going, but after deciding on a $3USD fare I was off. (I was later told by my colleagues I could have gotten a $2 ride, but my Thai is pretty bad). Also please note that there was no helmet offered to me and even when I asked the driver shrugged his shoulders.
The ride itself was AWESOME with a capital AWESOME. We started out uneventfully going down the road, until traffic started and then my driver decided the sidewalk was a better place to drive and this saved us tons of time. We eventually made it back on the road and weaved in and out of cars, buses, tuk tuks, and other motorcycles through busy Bangkok. I was holding on tight and only had a few brushes with cars against my legs and the rain wasn’t all that bad and with the exhilaration of the ride and being in Bangkok with work done for the week it was an unbelievable experience that I might just try again (I hope my mom didn’t read that part).
After calming down my adrenaline charged joy Carrie and I started our Friday night with a beer at the rooftop bar in our Hotel, the Lebua State Tower, and despite some drizzle we managed to enjoy ourselves and receive prompt service as the only patrons at the bar. (I think it was a pretty slow tourist time in Bangkok).
We then had a wonderful dinner at Thanying restaurant near our hotel. It was wonderful to have some really good and spicy Thai food after the generally lackluster Thai food in Singapore. The meal was great and reminded us that good food is still inexpensive in Thailand (and this was a great precursor to our lunch on Saturday).
After a few beers and some walking around soaking up the warm and humid night air and the sights and inevitable sounds of traffic in Bangkok we went to sleep early for a wonderful morning wake-up call.
We had breakfast at the wonderful buffet and were then met by two of my coworkers (Benjamas, nicknamed Tuk, and Worawan, nicknamed Nuk) and their friend (who’s real name we never learned but is nicknamed Muk). It was three Thai ladies, Carrie, and me. I was liking this day already.
My coworker Benjamas (aka Ben or Tuk) drove us to Pattaya where we visited The Sanctuary of Truth. This is a wooden sanctuary that is a replica of ancient art and structures. It was purposefully rebuilt to preserve old techniques (thus made by hand) and display this art throughout the structure.
On site there was a carving workshop where numerous artists were working by hand to finish various pieces for the structure in order to maintain the wood or to finish currently unfinished work. We also took time to take in a traditional dancing and sword fighting show (again keeping some of traditions alive).
It was a really fun time to see the amazing carvings and massive size of the sanctuary. We also got lucky enough to take a ride in a cart pulled by a horse and to wear hard hats like we were part of the construction crew (even though I have no artistic skills).
After the horse ride back to the car we departed for a sumptuous and scrumptious lunch of Thai food. It was authentic and just kept coming. I think Benjamas wanted to make sure we ate enough and my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach but the food was simply delicious. Take a journey of gastronomic delight below for a sampling of our lunch spread.
|Papaya Salad (one of my favorites)|
|Whole Steamed Fish (w/ a side of Thai Chili and Lime Sauce)|
Following the lunch we drove to an interesting floating market that was made solely for tourists to see how old floating markets would have looked.
We got to see people selling food and produce from boats and ate durian as well. Yes Carrie and I ate durian, and this was not the first time. I can even tell you that I prefer Thai durian to Malaysian durian because I have tried it that much. I think it is ok but not my favorite tropical fruit while Carrie really indulges from time to time.
|Quail Eggs for sale|
|Durian about to be eaten|
After the floating market tour we hopped in the car and were whisked away by our formula one driver, Benjamas, who successfully and safely negotiated the Bangkok traffic to drop us back off at our hotel. We had a wonderful day with our gracious Thai hosts and hoped we did not pester them too much.
Once we had recharged our batteries we again hit the roof top bar for drinks (this time luckily no drizzle) and then had a small snack like dinner before wandering around the night market in Patpong.
|View of the Dome at the rooftop bar|
|Beers at Patpong (great drinking and people watching)|
On Sunday we woke up early and hit the Chatachuk market (known locally as the JJ market) and got lost in the stalls that sell everything and I mean Everything. We saw squirrels (yes, the live animal) for sale as pets, household goods, clothes, food, souvenirs, spices, antiques, and more. You simply get lost in the small lanes of all the stalls but it is a great way to practice bargaining skills. However after a few hours the heat can be tough and it simply gets crowded with all the bargain shoppers.
Therefore we headed back to our hotel and got lunch and relaxed in the warm afternoon before heading to the airport and back to Singapore. It was a great weekend!