Three days into our tour and we are now officially in Cambodia. So far neither Leonie nor I have been thrown in Thai jail or come down with any diseases from eating street food. We did however give into tourist scams 10 minutes into our first outing, were suckered into a boat cruise down the river in Bangkok, and paid a tuk tuk driver to take us to the completely wrong location while getting back to the hotel. Things I have learned thus far, just say no.
Our first day in Bangkok started relatively early. Might have been the jet lag, might have been the heat, but i am betting on the excitement of being in Bangkok.
After breakfast at the hotel we ran out and entered the first tuk tuk driver that solicited us a ride. We “learned” that the Grand Palace we were trying to go to was only open to Thai people until 11am and that we should take a boat cruise he knew of that was an hour long and would end at the Grand Palace. As we had no real plans set out ahead of time, we agreed. Somehow we end up on a private boat in a river so choppy that it felt as if we’d tip over at any moment without any idea where we were actually going. Twenty minutes of regret in, we are coasting down a canal, saw some people selling things from their boats, and a section of the river that was so packed with fish that they were busting out of the water. Leonie fed them balls of rice, while I sang “feed the carp, baht a bag” to her.
Eventually we made it to the Grand Palace and wondered through the tourist packed monument, astounded by the ornate decoration of the buildings and statues. The Thai people sure do seem to like decorating with 1″ mirror tiles.
From there we walked down towards the temple of the reclining buddha, the country’s largest laying Buddha statue. Despite being a more recognizable destination, the complex was much quieter with less tourists. The complex, and a lot of the country in retrospect is covered in cats and dogs, just laying around. Our ticket to the grand palace bought us entrance into a national museum that showcased award winning embroidery from Thailand.
By then the heat was wiping us out, so we caught a tuk tuk back to our “hotel”. After negotiating a price and telling the driver that we did not want to go to any of his sponsors stores to see gems or tailored suits he takes us to a street and tells us our hotel was right around the corner behind us. Without thinking, we get out wish him good day and try to make our way back to the hotel. Having only been there for about 7 hours, neither of us had any idea what our hotel even looked like. Turns out we were no where near it. And had to take another ride to the other side of the city. Bangkok tip: stick to taxis.
Eventually we made it back to the hotel with an honest tuck tuck driver, who in my elation to be back at the hotel I tipped very well, and saw that there was a Thai massage place next to our hotel so we made appointments for the next morning.
Quick swim, second pad thai of the day, and a negotiation of the subway system later we found ourselves in Patpong…otherwise known as the sexy area of Bangkok. We walked through the night market of sex toys, underwear, thai porn, fake designer bags, various incarnations of crocs, and (having been well warned by the man who served us lunch, otherwise known as pad thai #1) avoided any “upstairs” bars despite Leonie wanting to see a ping pong show.
Getting lost for about the fifth or sixth time that day, we decided to retrace our steps back to the subway, when we came across the feet eating fish that I had been wanting to try for years! It did not take me long to sit down on the bench, but then started to freak out before putting my feet in the water. I overcame my fear only to succumb to a new one, which was just getting my feet away from the tiny piranhas. While they only felt like thousands of cat tongues licking my feet, the thought of them eating the bottoms of my feet scared me to no end and the thought of them staying on my legs as I lifted them out of the water was an image that I could not get out of my head.
That was just day one…