After our very hot visit to Koh Samui, Thailand, the next day was even hotter and busier as we visited Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. A city of over 15 million people, it is a place of stunning gem studded temples, golden Buddha statues, floating markets, long tail boats, klongs (canals) and friendly people. There are over 400 temples in Bangkok.
We had an excursion booked for this day. We had an early start since it is a 2 hour drive from the Port of Laem Chabang, where the ship was docked, into Bangkok. We were very fortunate it was a Sunday and therefore the traffic was not as bad as it could have been.
We were met at the bus by Sidney, our Thai guide. He spoke very good English though at times we had to listen closely to understand him. In the pictures Sidney is the one in the strange hat. He wore it so he would stand out in crowds and we could find him easily. It worked! Thank heavens the bus was air conditioned with free WiFi.
Halfway to Bangkok we stopped at a rest area so people could use the “Happy Room” (bathroom) as Sidney put it. As we got off the bus the driver had a roll of toilet paper for us to tear off pieces. At that point I was apprehensive about what to expect but the bathroom was similar to what we have in the United States, just without toilet paper. There was a sink with running water but no soap or paper towels.
Earlier that morning from windows on the ship it looked like the air was heavy with smog. The closer we got to Bangkok, the worse the pollution became and Sidney said if people had masks they should wear them. Bill and I were the only ones on the bus with masks. (We had packed them back home.) The only problem was it was another day of extreme heat and humidity and having the mask across our nose and mouth only made us hotter.
We first visited the Rat Ratchanadda (Metal Castle). At 116 feet tall with 37 spires, it is a Buddhist temple, the only metal castle in Thailand and one of only three in the world.
We had been well informed on temple etiquette the day before at a port talk. Knees and shoulders must be covered so no shorts or sleeveless shirts are allowed. We knew we would have to remove our shoes so before leaving Arizona we visited the Dollar Tree and bought some cheap footies and socks that we could wear and discard. We were also told to bring a bag to carry our shoes with us. If you left your shoes outside mischievous children might take them and want candy or money to return them.
Next up was back on the bus to Wat Pho temple. The shoes came off once again. Because it was Sunday the temple was very crowded and with the heat it was claustrophobic and stifling inside. There were many signs warning of pickpockets.
Asia is known for crazy drivers and very dangerous traffic. People on motor scooters zoom through the streets and care less about traffic laws and lights. We had to cross one busy intersection and Sidney led the way. It was still scary. Sidney told us once you start to cross whatever you do don’t stop if you get scared. If you stop you may get hit. Just keep going and the motor scooters will swerve around you. We made it!
By this time our group was very hot and we were all wilting rapidly. Time for lunch! But how to get there? Sidney put us in groups of two into tuk tuks, which are rickshaws pulled by motorcycles. It was an exciting, exhilarating, crazy ride through the streets of Bangkok with cars, trucks and motorcycles weaving and swerving around us. My favorite part of the day! We were very glad we had our masks since the exhaust fumes were overwhelming.
Sidney said there are three seasons in Thailand–hot, hotter and hottest. We were visiting during the winter, or hot season. I cannot imagine what the hottest season would feel like!
Two many pictures for one blog so continue to blog part 2.