The jetlag was starting to ease off, and we woke up bright and early with a full day planned.
We immediately made our way to Lumphini Park, a 57.6 hectare park right in the middle of Bangkok. When we arrived at the park, we made sure to stop off at the Starbucks for Ross’ first experience of pure joy. Yet again, it was hot as hell, so coffee wasn’t very appealing – iced coffee, however, was another story. I had a caramel iced coffee (deliciousness in a cup), and Ross had a plain iced coffee (rookie error).
It is a very active park – there are exercises of all kinds taking place – jogging, cycling, roller blading, Thai chi, martial arts, dancing and singing. There are also massive monitor lizards walking all around the park.
We walked around for a while but it was SO hot. This was the hottest day by far. We finished our iced coffees in no time, bought ice cold water, and finished that in no time too. We went paddling on the river in a swan boat, while monitor lizards and baby tortoises swam past us. We saw some Buddha statues and petted all the stray dogs. I’m so embarrassing.
We then lay on the grass underneath a coconut tree and I vividly remember saying to Ross, “Remember this heat, I never want to forget how awfully hot this place is.” It was horrendous, no jokes.
We couldn’t handle the heat any more (especially after working up a sweat on the outdoor gym sets), and quickly made our way back to the air conditioned MRT.
It was time to make our way to Wat Traimit or The Golden Buddha. It was a mission to get there, but my word, was it spectacular. It is 5.5 tonnes of pure gold and it is the worlds largest solid gold statue. It is literally breathtaking. And huge. I found that entering these temples always brought an overwhelming sense of peace – perhaps it’s the people praying all around you, and silence everywhere or the awe of what has been created but I could have sat and stared at this (and many other Buddhas) for ages.
Once we were all Buddha’d out, we decided to make our way to Yaowarat or Chinatown. We stopped at China Gate which was TOO DAMN COOL.
We walked to Chinatown which wasn’t far away, but my goodness, was this a culture shock or what?! It is INSANELY busy, hot and smelly. There’s weird food being sold everywhere, people push into you. It was not what I would describe as enjoyable. Especially in that 34 degree heat and humidity.
This is Ross’ culture shock face:
We stopped off at Wat Mangkol Kamalawat which is the largest and most important Chinese Buddhist temple, and it isn’t a tourist destination at all, we were surrounded by monks and locals. It was an amazing experience. We still had some time left over, and didn’t find any food that looked appealing so we decided to go to Khao San road. We battled to find a taxi. The taxi drivers can be quite mean, and were refusing to use their meters which means you end up paying way more money. This is illegal, but they try to take advantage of foreigners. We eventually got frustrated in the heat, had some more Starbucks, and then rather hopped on a TukTuk to say we had at least had the experience of one (even though they are also pricey). These guys drive like nutcases but it was fun nonetheless.
Khao San road was another world. It was like being teleported out of Bangkok to the land known as ‘Backpacker’. It was far more commercialized than anything we had seen, and even the shopping was more expensive here.
We were tired after walking all day and found an awesome little massage place called Charlie’s.
We had a foot massage, amazing, and then walked about 20 meters up the road, looked at one another and with a knowing smile, walked back for more. We had the little fishies eat the dead skin off our feet..
After which, we discovered the cheapest Thai massages ever at Charlie’s – a two hour, that’s right TWO HOUR, Thai massage for the equivalent of R170. We couldn’t not have one of these, and we proceeded to have two hours of pure bliss.
By the time we had finished, it was way past dinner time and we found a vendor on the side of the road selling food. Ross had spring rolls, and I had a big portion of Pad Thai. The Pad Thai cost me R15 and it was the best Pad Thai I have ever tasted.
We then made our way back to the hotel in agreement that this was the BEST. DAY. EVER. It was amazing, and I was already starting to feel like Thailand was a privilege to visit.