February 18-19

I flew in from Luang Prabang, Laos this afternoon (although it is the 22nd as I write this) and at the train station I met a charming woman from Quebec. Not Canada, oh no, she's from Quebec. We met up again on the 20th and have been kicking around together a lot since then.

We met at the train station and decided to share a taxi to our hotels which were on the same street...Exactly across the street from each other. And we were born in the same year And we were born in the same month. Weird!

And Kat was here in Bangkok too along with her friend Tina. What fun!
What caught my eye. I wonder what this will be like!
Another corner on my way to meet up with...
...Kat and her friend Tina. Even Ronald gives a wai, the Thai greeting.
Kat and Tina and I did lots of walking around, eating on the street, and had a good time in Chinatown for Chinese New Year.
Mango and Sweet Sticky Rice. Once eaten, never forgotten.

You can get it here in many Thai restaurants in LA too and it can even be just as good but the trick is for the mangos to be perfectly ripe and for the sweet sticky rice not to get too gummy.
Kat, doing her thing.
Can't let the day pass without a view of Rama VIII.
Happy Chinese New Year!
Tina, me, and Kat. We were on the parade route at this moment but there was no way to know when the parade would come by, but there was every indication that it would be hours so we decided not to wait.

We wanted to take the water taxi back and they stop running at 7:30p so we decided to check out some side streets in hopes of being able to breathe.
I got to bang the drum! Tina took the b&w shot of me and...
...Kat took these. More pictures of me than you can shake a stick at.
Even the side streets were packed...
...but still a lot of fun and we're very glad to have dipped our toe into the lake of Chinese New Year.
That's right, bugs.
Good night Rama VIII. I have so many pictures of this bridge because you can see it from the water taxi as well as from the oh so wonderful In Love café.
February 20

Louise and I made a trip out to the Grand Palace along with 20000000 other people so we decided to come back at the opening on the 22nd.
Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha.

Wiki says it's 15m high and 43m long whereas as a comparison the Giant Reclining Buddha in Yangon is 55m long.
That's Louise and these were my favorite Buddha feet.
I really really liked this Wat. It's across the street from the Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace complex and people are probably so exhausted after visiting those places they don't make it over here so it was remarkably quiet.
Buddha Buddha Buddha.
Isn't this place something.
One of the many boats on the river.

The ease with which you can get around by water taxi was a marvel.

The river runs much further, north into the suburbs and all the way to the Gulf of Thailand many kilometers south, but still not that far. The water taxi service is just in central Bangkok though.

More about this tomorrow.
We were all nuts for this bridge, the Rama VIII Bridge. This view you have seen and will see again because you can sit on the roof of the In Love restaurant, have a beer and a green papaya salad, and ENJOY.

It's my favorite place to sit in all of Bangkok.
More. I've spared you the other 100.
February 21

I met up with Louise at her lovely hotel for breakfast, exactly across the street from my lovely hotel.
Then we walked down to meet Kat and spent the morning strolling through the jewelry district while she did some business. Tina had left in the morning.
And of course we had to enjoy the ever present street food.
Bangkok has the most street food I can remember in any city. It's everywhere!
Kat had to go back to her place to get ready to leave the next morning and Louise and I decided to ride on the Chao Phraya River from the 1st station to the last, number 30.
Tina took this picture of a public taxi on another day...
...and I got these off the internet because I don't have any that give a feeling for how busy it can get.

There are commercial boats doing business, Tourist Taxis for 40 baht, Public Taxis for 15 baht, and private boats including the decorated long boats where the prices are negotiable.
We always hope for the public ones but will take a tourist boat if it comes first. Everything about them is pretty much the same except 15 baht vs 40 baht and on the tourist boat you have to listen to a very loud loud-speaker unintelligibly screaming the stops.

You can see the deck on the building with the yellow railings - that's In Love where we get the great views of the fabulous Rama VIII bridge.
Many of the stops include tourist friendly attractions.
Some houses, and you can imagine in other parts where those house have collapsed, been abandoned, and then settled again in their collapsed state.
There are many channels too leading into the river.
Riding under the oh so fine Rama VIII bridge.
February 22

We were at the Grand Palace before opening and for about an hour it wasn't too bad with the crowds.
Inside the Wat Phra Kaew is the home of The Emerald Buddha (no photos allowed). It was on a very high platform and it was small. I guess that's not so surprising since it's made of emerald but you get to expecting everything to be big inside these temples.
There was one of the most huge most fantastical murals I've ever seen called The Murals of Ramakian.
Especially in Bangkok I've seen images from China and India in the temple complexes.
Hi little guys.
Everyone else was doing this and it didn't look particularly holy. More like making a wish when you blow out your birthday candles.
A changing of the guard, and hanging around waiting to do what they're supposed to do next.
This complex includes Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, another melding of Church-And-State.
My bird!
Ok, only a couple more. This one...
...and this one.
We went over to the National Museum in the afternoon. It was 1000 degrees out with the sun BLAZING down and no air-conditioning here. I moved slowly through the buildings from fan to fan where I sat to recover, in amazement that this is the cool season.
It's about a 15 minute walk from my hotel to this café and I seem to swing by at last once most days.
February 23

It's my last day! This is the traffic a couple of blocks from my hotel. The hotel provides tuk-tuk service in the morning and we've been taking advantage of it and getting an early start.
The tuk-tuk dropped us off at River Station 8 and we shuttled across to Wat Arun.

They were having a big event with a tent full of the Navy and Monks with chanting, a brass band, and fireworks. We never did figure out the event but it was very Church-And-State which as you know is not my favorite, but whatever it was they were doing, it was quite interesting to watch.
There was also a ton of refurbishments going on. Check out that guy building the scaffolding many stories high without any safety provisions.

They do the work inch by inch behind protective netting, to keep any pieces from falling on the tourists I would suppose.
I read that this is not the first refurbishment of these 200 year old structures but...
...wow, they look great when they're done - Wat Arun, The Temple of Dawn.
That's Louise in the blue shirt making her way, in the blazing BLAZING sun, up up up. Me: "please, go ahead, I'll take your picture."
My nearest bridge across one of the channels, and the creatures that live under it.
In honor of my Bon Voyage dinner we went to Baiyoke Tower II, the tallest building in Bangkok to see the sights and find some food.

My first cocktail in 7 weeks and it was delicious. If I want a drink I always just get a local beer from wherever I am. It's fun, and the beverage will reliably taste the same each time you get it, it's cold, and you don't stand out in a crowd.
The sunset view. The Bridge, Rama VIII is in the middle a few inches to the right of the setting sun. This is from the 83rd floor.
Then we went down to the 17th floor where there was, wonderfully tucked away but very nice (waiters, air conditioning, fully set tables with napkins that were not rolls of toilet paper...first class!). They call it the coffee shop and it's too small for tour groups. We agreed it was the best place in the building.
Time for my last good night to the ladies at the front desk of the Tara Place Hotel. You could not imagine a more delightful crew. They spoke a dozen languages between them and made everyone feel happy and entirely at home.

There was a modest lobby with coffee and tea always hot and at the ready and so many special treats that I had to gather up will and fortitude to make myself take only one each time I passed by.

Bangkok - I'm very glad to have spent this time, to hang a little with Kat and her friend Tina, and to meet Louise whose path, I'm pretty sure, I'll cross again.
HomeAsia • Thailand • '15 Feb: Thailand, mostly Bangkok

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