Sunday, October 28, 2007

One Night in Bangkok

…is one night too many. In our case, it turned out to be one night and much of the following day as our transit stop turned into a bit more thanks to a mix-up in our flights. We tried to make the best of it as we always do by taking a mini-tour of the city. We carefully arranged our plan with the help of the hotel concierge and grabbed a taxi from our hotel. Mr. Tony Vee seemed quite the cheerful taxi driver at first, helpfully telling us about the city as he drove us towards town. We quickly understood that he wanted us to hire him for the day. Although the first price he offered for this service was outrageous, he did agree to a very reasonable price, so we took him up on the offer and had time for a visit to Bangkok’s two most famous temples. The temples in Bangkok are far more ornate and by far more modern than those we had seen in Vietnam and Cambodia. They are brightly colored and glittering with jewels and full of some of the most incredible Buddha’s that exist. At the Grand Palace, which contains the King’s residence, we saw the beautiful Emerald Buddha (unfortunately, no photos allowed) and at Wat Po we saw the impressive and gigantic Reclining Buddha. I believe one of this Buddha’s toes is larger than my head! We had lunch at a seafood restaurant that is a bit touristy, but we’ve wanted to try it since my Mom ate there when she was in Bangkok years ago. You shop for your food (yes, with a grocery cart and everything) first, then they prepare it for you any way you like. Despite the neon glitz and tourist price tag, it was very tasty.

Our biggest adventure in Bangkok was dealing with the people. Everywhere we went people tried to take advantage of us. From the guy who asked to see our receipt when we exited the temple – he was dressed in something official looking and made an official looking mark on the receipt before handing it back to us, then proceeded to try to convince us to hire his TukTuk for the day – to our taxi driver (you knew I would get back to him). Our dear taxi driver tried to tell us the restaurant we wanted to go to was closed and drove us to a restaurant of his choosing instead. Thanks to hubby’s knowledge of the area and his firm insistence, we eventually made it to the restaurant we originally requested. Our driver tried to renegotiate the rate on the way (probably since he had originally calculated a nice restaurant kick-back), but we would have none of it and paid him the agreed upon fee when we returned to our hotel. Sadly, that wasn’t the end of our interactions with this guy as he tried to tell the hotel staff that we didn’t pay him. The hotel staff quickly understood the situation and apologized to us for the entire experience. By then it was obvious why Bangkok has been dubbed his “least favorite city in the world”.

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