Rain & Iguanadons….Bangkok

Day 4

Began with an early morning rainstorm, as previously mentioned.  We then ventured to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (wat=temple).
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We took the free English tour and learned just as much about our tour guide as about the palace and temple (38, learned English from Harry Potter, loves to touch ladies, & single – shocking).imageimageimage

We finished our tour, complete with our first Wat & shoe-removing experience just in time for the afternoon rainstorm.  Our umbrella has started struggling at this point, but we make it without getting too wet.  Our parents, mine in particular should note that we spent almost 4 hours at a religious facility.  This may be a record, but it does include the visit to the textile museum, which was really cool.  The Queen started an organization to bring Thai silk back into practice to provide jobs and money for struggling rural economies.  It was pretty successful and there are beautiful silk garments and tapestries now from an industry that was dying out.

Day 5

We were intrigued by the textile museum and continued our silk tour at the Jim Thompson house.  He was an American architect who promoted Thai silk around the world and revived trade outside of Thailand.   He disappeared mysteriously in Malaysia, but his house was turned into a museum.  He combined 7 Thai structures into one to make his house.

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There were lots of animals at his house.

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Living and nonliving.

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This kitten was passed out in various locations while we were there, including the lap of one of the guides, who gave him a Thai massage.

Across the canal are two of the original silk making facilities from Jim Thompson’s time.  They still produce the cloth on big wooden looms and will show you the whole process.  If we have any money left at the end of our trip, we intend to go back and buy something here.

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There are no pictures after this as we left the museum to go to the nearby Vietnamese Embassy to pick up our visas.  Along the way, it started to rain.  And then pour.  And not the usual 15 minute afternoon shower.  This was torrential.  Seeing that we had to be there between 4 and 4:30 to pick up the visas, we had no time to wait out the rain.  We trooped on with our fading umbrella and skimpy poncho.  Never occurred to us to get a taxi.  Nope, we haven’t yet, why start now?  I was very proud of my waterproof shoes, until I realized that they won’t stop the rain that runs down your ankles from getting into your socks and then into your shoes.  So my feet were a full 5 minutes drier than Riki’s. Success.  And then his dried out faster.  Fail.

We took the cheap bus home, which was full, and hot, and slow.  The traffic is really bad for about 3 hours every afternoon.  The umbrella has been retired. Fail.

Day 6: Today

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Still need to identify these canal creatures.  Iguanadons as Riki is calling them.

I forgot to mention that they LOVE their king and queen here.  There are pictures everywhere, along the street, in the buildings, in our hostel.

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Riki loves flags.

With our tickets from the Grand Palace (500 baht) from the other day, we also got tickets to a bunch of buildings in the Dusit area.  The first building was the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, which has a very impressive exhibit on artifacts made for the king.  The building was pretty amazing as well.   Riki tells me the king who built these buildings prevented colonizing by western countries because he was already so modern as he had gone to school in England.

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What is not so modern about this building is the dress code.  While I was completely covered, shoulders, ankles and all, I am now the new owner of a rather stiff and almost mauve colored sarong.  Riki was wearing the same clothes as me, but no sarong for him.

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Oh well, it was 50 baht (less than $3) and I can use it as a beach towel, maybe.

We couldn’t take pictures inside, but there is a crazy dragon chandelier covered in green shiny beetle shells.  Then we went to another textile museum, where we learned to differentiate between northern and southern Thai patterns.   Also with our Grand Palace ticket, we were granted entry to the Vimanmek Mansion Museum.  We had a free English guide for the large teak home of the former kings, but she really only wanted to talk about the gifts in the rooms that were given to the king from around the world, not the building or rooms.  It was incredible, but also, no pictures allowed.

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Fish in a canal.

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There are these little shrines all over the city and when people see Buddha they bow slightly and clasp their hands together in front of their chest.

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 We have started playing I-SPY an Asian animal.   Mostly cats, sometimes dogs, toads, iguanodons, fish, cockroaches, really strange sounding birds, etc.  You can play along too.

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