After our few days in japan, we flew to our real destination – thailand. H and I were both really looking forward to thailand, as we’ve heard all about the beautiful beaches, the super relaxing massages, and the awesome food and culture. I will say that it was not a disappointment at all, and H and I each had a fantastic time. We worked with a tour group for the majority of our time in thailand, and I’m glad we did – I think it ended up saving us a lot of money. They took care of everything for us for the days that we were working with them, and all we had to do was show up at the right time and place.
One thing that I was mildly annoyed by was the pressure to buy stuff, which I’ll admit neither of us handled well at all. During our tours, we were taken to places (reputable ones) that had a distinctly thai product. One was a jewelry shop (thailand exports a lot of gems), one was a tailor, one was a teak wood carving store (that had a 30k+ chair!!!). The products were impressive and lots of them way out of our price range, I was just a bit annoyed that we took us there and didnt put the things like this in the itinerary. H ended up getting some earrings and a shirt, and I ended up getting 3 more custom shirts – these did not take near as long to get made as the one for my wedding, but they fit just as nice – and didnt cost near as much. I picked some checkered patterns so that I could wear them to work when the weather gets cool, which I’m unable to do with my wedding shirt. Without further ado, the pictures. (fyi – this is a long and picture heavy post, so feel free to skip if you like)
This is the temple (Wat Tramit) where they housed the golden buddha. The golden buddha was giant, and held a buddha that was probably 10′ high made entirely of gold. He was covered in plaster in the 1700s, to keep him from being stolen. The identity was eventually forgotten, and when moving the statue to its current location in the 50s, the ropes broke and part of the plaster cracked, revealing the gold underneath.
This is the golden buddha. Quite an amazing work of art, if I do say so myself. There were not as many people there as was normal because we went on a sunday. Apparently, it’s just packed full of people every other day.
This was another one of the temples (Wat Phra Kew) that we went to. It housed the emerald buddha, but unfortunately we didnt get to see it because people were worshiping there when we were there. Also, there’s chatter about the buddha not really being made of emerald, but jadeite, which is also green.
This is another part of the roof – the detail they put into the construction is just incredible, and must have been hugely time consuming. The buildings looked great though, and were a total wonder to see. (I took asian art in college to get out of my english requirement, so I’d see lots of this stuff in my professors old slide shows, but seeing it up close was totally different).
This is a picture of the floating market north of bangkok. There was quite a drive to get here (about 1 hour) and then we got on a long tail boat like the one you see in the bottom left of the picture, and they took us to the market. Those long tail boats were crazy – most of them looked like v8’s with long pipes and a propeller on the back, which the driver moved by hand. It sure looked like a lot of work. Once we got to the floating market, we got on another boat where they took us around the market. Neither H nor I were very interested in the things they were selling – they all seemed to be more or less the same, and the whole thing felt a bit touristy. The one thing I was interested in though, were the food items – they had coconut water straight from the coconut, and lots of spices in bulk for sale. I bought some bulk spices (to be used when the kitchen is done) and that was about it.
This is a picture from the elephant show that we got to see. This elephant is in the middle of doing a handstand – which was super awesome. These elephants did a whole ton of stuff – they played soccer, played drums, swung a hula hoop around their trunk, and reenacted how elephants were used in war. It was pretty amazing all of the things that they were trained to do, and they seemed to be having a ton of fun doing it all, too (as much as I can read an elephants emotion, of course).
This is from the crocodile show. These guys were totally nuts. They were sticking their heads and hands in the crocodiles mouth and pulling the crocs out of the water. One thing that I did notice about these crocs was that they stayed very still, basically not moving from the last position they were in unless they were really, really provoked. I was thinking that it was an evolutionary thing for conservation of energy that they’ve employed basically forever, but I dont know for sure. At first H and I though there were about 4 crocs in that little pond, but there were probably around 12 – all the others just stayed super still and blended in with everything else.
This is a bridge over the chao phraya river that was lit up when we took a dinner cruise. It was a nice cruise along the river in bangkok, and we got to see a lot of the city lit up – which was nice, because most of our exploring had been during the day. There were lots of tall hotels that were all lit up, and this bridge, as well as a lot of other boats on the river. We got to sit in a rather secluded table, but everyone kept coming over our way because we were at the front of the boat and they wanted to take pictures. It was kind of annoying, but the rest of the cruise was still pretty fun.
This is the Jim Thompson house, which we saw on our final stay in bangkok without the tour guides. It was a pretty sweet place, and there’s a lot of history behind the guy. He moved to thailand after the war working for the OSS, and loved the silk and sent samples to london. He became a famous silk merchant, and loved thailand so much he made his home there. After living there for a while, he built a prosperous company. One day he went hiking and disappeared, and about a year later, his daughter disappeared as well! Crazy stuff, considering he was in the OSS (predecessor to the CIA). The silk products were amazing, and we got a wedding gift for some friends there, and I got a tie with elephants on it (it rules).
This is a template he used for putting patterns and colors on silk.
These are rolls of silk that the silkworms made. Really cool stuff, and they were really soft. I had to take this picture about 4 times because people kept reaching in there and touching the silk while I was trying to take a picture.
This was on the way to the royal barge museum. H and I took a river express boat on the last day (because we were not sure what to do) and this was one of the stops. There were directions in the guidebook that we had, so we decided to follow them and though it was close. When we got off the boat and into the area, I saw something in the water that was sticking up with gold on the top, and figured that had to be it. It was about 1000 feet away, but unfortunately you couldnt go through that way because it was a naval base. So, we followed the signs that were going to take us to the museum, and they led us through some really depressed areas. There were tons of places that looked awful – very poor living conditions. I think they had electricity, but I’m not sure about potable water. It was my first time seeing how the majority of the world lived, and it was almost surreal.
This is the center of one of the boats – I believe that this one was for the king.
Front of one of the boats – these were all gold as well, and were incredibly detailed. Unfortunately, these boats only come out on very rare occasions – the last time was in 2006. The queens 60th birthday was during the month we were there (july) and they didnt even break them out for that.
ANother one of the front of a boat. There were probably about 10 barges here in all, some were just for show and were much older. These were made of teak wood. Once again, the detail on these was just amazing….and all of that is gold.
Another shot of the front of the boat.
All of the images on the front of the boats are famous in thai culture. The monkeys rescued the princess from another color monkey. This 7 headed serpent played a role (forgive me for being vague, we didnt have a tour guide and I dont recall much). One interesting thing about this place though was you had to pay a fee to take pictures! It was a small fee (something like 3 dollars, I believe) but was totally worth it.
This was the last place we went on the last night in thailand. It was amazing and had a great view. You may recognize the dome from the movie the Hangover 2. The view was amazing, but the place was super crowded and small. And even though it was 10pm or so, it was still really hot outside.
This was everything from our time in bangkok – it was an amazing city and we both had lots of fun. It was super nice to relax and not have to worry about what to do or where to go that day – the tour did that for us.