Its 5:30 am, Bangkok, Day 4. That’s early you say. Well yes, but its pouring and the clang of the rain on the metal roofs around us is deafening. At least to me. Riki is out cold. This is the first rain we’ve had, despite it being the rainy season. So that’s lucky. We were going to get up early anyway to go to the Grand Palace, just not this early.
We arrived in Bangkok Sunday morning at 5:30, like I said, that’s early. Having had the brilliant idea to sleep only a few hours Friday, so we could sleep on the plane Saturday, neither of us managed to doze off at all on the plane. Luckily, there were lots of movies and no screaming children. We flew Thai Air and were not impressed. Turkish Airlines had friendlier service and better food. It was still above average though, and if you fly first class (which we did not) they have a fully reclining seat. We did really enjoy the flight attendants’ uniforms, which were semi-formal Thai suits and all different.
Needless to say, when we arrived at our hostel before 7 am, we were exhausted. The reception wasn’t open and the person on duty managed to communicate that we could leave our bags and come back to check in at 1 pm when our room would be ready. So that’s what we did.
We are staying just north of the large backpacking area centered around Khao Saan Rd and so we headed that way, like walking zombies. There are no pictures from this day, as I don’t think Riki had the energy to get out his camera. We wandered down toward the Grand Palace, where we discovered it was Car Free Day, where we encountered thousands (and I’m not exaggerating) of people riding bikes to a large park, Sanem Luang. This made it incredibly difficult to cross the road and we kind of shuffled/sprinted our way through the bright green-shirted swarm. It was still too early for anything to be open, so we meandered from park (I use this term loosely) to park looking for a comfy bench. These are hard to come by. We finally found a nice shaded (did I mention its hot?) spot of grass among some older ladies doing their morning stretching and managed to doze off for a minute, or less.
Later, we went to check in and took a quick 6 hour nap.
Day 2: Embassy & Hospital
We took the bus to the Vietnamese Embassy, which is a success in itself, as there are about 100 bus lines and no real map of where they go. So we got one in the right direction and the ticket taker told us when to get off. Oddly, the bus we took cost 6.5 baht (~32 baht = $1) but we have yet to see a .5 baht coin. But since we are two, I guess we won’t. We turned in our passports and application (2500 baht each) and headed out on to their embassy row in search of the Red Cross. Having just decided to add Nepal to our itinerary, we were lacking in the Polio vaccine department and read that the Red Cross administers them for $20. Well we found the anonymous Red Cross clinic, but that turned out to be mostly for AIDS testing. A nice American guy working there who had lived in New Orleans for awhile pointed us in the direction of the Red Cross Travel Clinic, which is literally right next door to a snake farm – they share an entrance. We did not partake in the snake farm and were turned away at the clinic because they only had a combo Tdap-polio, which we had both just received. This is why we ended up at the hospital. Sorry if you were expecting more drama. We walked right in and were escorted to the appropriate clinic. An hour later and $30 poorer ($2 for the polio drop, $3 for hospital fees, and $10 for the doctor – each) out we went. We were really impressed with the system and I will attribute the efficiency to the all-female staff (except for a pharmacist, who we didn’t need). We wandered back up to the shopping district, where we ate dinner for $4 total and caught the same bus back to our hostel (this time it was free, apparently sometimes they are free).
First stop this day was to get Riki a hair cut. A $2.50 hair cut. He looks a bit like the monks they have all around here, but no orange robe.
Then we took a water taxi ($1 for two) for about half an hour to the south. We meandered back up through Chinatown and were particularly fascinated by the car parts area. So, if you want to buy any kind of metal for your tuk-tuk or motorcycle or car, there is a street, well more like a large alley where there are heaps and heaps of car parts. I’m not sure how they find the right one, but maybe they just hammer one and melt it until it fits? We passed through the flower market, which is an incredible economy in itself. It is hard to imagine how 50+ vendors all selling the same thing in one place makes sense but that’s how it is with a lot of things here.
We stopped at Amorosa bar for a drink and to watch the sunset. Highly recommend, though the drinks are more expensive ($4). We watched the sun set over Wat Arun and met a nice British couple. When we were leaving the man tried to pay for our drinks because “it’s so nice to see Americans get out, because you don’t have to leave.” To which I replied, “you don’t have to leave either,” which may have been a bit harsh because I’m sure he meant well, but he was at least 6 Beefeaters and tonic in. Anyway, we ended up walking home because the boat stops running at 6:30 and we couldn’t find out where the bus stopped (fail).
Some more images below. Sorry they are not in order, but our Ipad is not cooperating. I could rant for an hour about the backwards way we have having to do everything because Apple products are stupid.