Or, our first day in Bangkok
14.04.2011 34 °C
So, we landed a little after 5 on Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. To our surprise out backpacks arrived on the luggage belt without trouble, despite the two delays. We had no problems at customs either and so around 6 we emerged onto the sky train platform. Just in time for the first train.
The Bangkok sky train is a modern, air-conditioned metro above ground, above the roads even, hence the name sky train.
A cab took us to our hostel from the nearest train station, but of course – it being 7 in the morning – the room was not ready yet. We were asked to come back around 11:30. So, we dumped our backpacks and decided to visit Wat Prah Kaew.
A Wat is a Buddhist temple complex (the great majority of the Thai are Buddhists) and school (Buddhist boys still accept monkhood for a short period of time – used to be three months, now it’s around six weeks) in Thailand, Laos or Cambodia. It always consists of the following buildings: chedi (conical or bell-shaped building, containing relics of the Buddha), wihaan (meeting and prayer room), mondop (a usually open, square building with four arches and a pyramidal roof, used to worship religious texts or objects), sala (a pavilion for relaxation or miscellaneous activities), ubosoth (the holiest prayer room, also called the "ordination hall" as it is where new monks take their vows), bibiloteca, drum tower, bell tower and multipurpose hall.
Wat Phra Kaew is … glittery and it was hot, walking around in the glaring sun during the late morning.
So, to cool off, we decided to visit the National Museum, which was supposed to be mostly air-conditioned.
We were happily surprised to find the entrance free, on account of a national holiday, but less happy to hear that only two of the forty rooms were open. The national holiday was the Songkran festival, more about that later. We decided – since we were there and all – to visit one of the open rooms. This turned out to be the temple building (that National Museum is housed in one of the Kings’ old palaces). They had fans, so we sat down to ‘pray to Buddha’ for a bit. Now this comes with instructions: firstly, you must take off your shoes before entering the temple, secondly, do not step on the doorstep (this angers the house spirits) and thirdly, when you sit down, make sure you tuck your feet under you in a way that they are pointing away from the Buddha image. Needless to say, Thai have a thing against feet.
After staring at the golden image for a while (until we cooled down a bit) we wondered around the temple, but most of the murals were – unfortunately – completely indecipherable or, in other words, destroyed.
It was still too early to go back to the hostel, but too late to do anything useful, so we decided to visit one of the shopping centres - apparently a must-do here. We chose the Emporium shopping centre and – after the cabby drove us around in a very wide circle – were surprised by classical music on the doorstep and a doorman in a white uniform opening the door for us. The shopping centre was entirely what you would expect after that: Prada, Chanel, Louis Vuitton. According to Lonely Planet the food should be as cheap as the bags were expensive and in addition we found a nice supermarket. We acquired some water, fresh pineapple and weird Thai chips, because we’d noticed downstairs that Rio was playing in English in the cinema here and since this is supposed to be an experience in Thailand, we decided to go.
The movie was good, the chips were very weird and the cinema was freezing. They weren’t kidding when they said we’d need pullovers!
We picked up some take-out on our way out (curry with prawns for me, curry with chicken for Gege), which we ate in our hostel after taking a nice, refreshing shower (and a nap for me, I didn’t get to sleep much on the plane and was literally getting sick from lack of sleep).
We are staying in the Sivarin Guesthouse. The staff is very friendly and helpful, our room is spacious, clean and nicely decorated and the shower is fine as well.
We didn’t want to miss the change to see the last day of the Songkran festival, so we went out for an evening walk. Songkran is the Thai New Year. It basically entails getting each other wet, with water pistols, buckets, or even water guns. Take a look for yourself once we have the movie uploaded.
Since both of us were completely knackered, we turned in around 22.00.
Last but not least, if you speak Hungarian, or want to see other pictures, check Gege's blog: http://vandorsun.blog.hu.
Time spent in Asia: 1 day
Number of sights seen: 2 and a bit