A Travellerspoint blog

April 2011

Partying with the animals

And meeting elephants for the first time

semi-overcast 30 °C
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This Monday was Gege’s birthday, but unfortunately, we didn’t really have time to do something special, because we were leaving for Ayutthaya later in the day. We did manage to visit Dusit park and zoo in the morning, though.

It wasn’t too big, so manageable in a morning and it was rather nice. Upon arrival we were visited by the nastiest creepy crawly we’ve seen so far. A huge centipede – and when I say huge, I do mean huge – lazily came walking from between my feet when I was applying sunscreen. Let’s just say that I have the right to scream like a girl.

Creepy crawly

Creepy crawly


And this is where it came from

And this is where it came from

We didn’t like the aquarium; it was simply cruel and heartbreaking to see so many fish in such small boxes. There was an aquarium no larger than the average backyard swimming pool with at least 40 nurse sharks and a ray in it. So we went out quickly.

The snake cave was a lot better. They had many types of snakes, a lot of them indigenous to the area, and the terrariums were large and well done.

In other news, we felt less warm, even though it was supposed to be one of the warmest days so far.

We got lucky at the meerkats, as they were being fed just as we walked up. Tried to make a movie of it, but since we put the battery back the wrong way around after charging, there was some confusion. I am certain I taped the washing of the elephants after their show, though. (We didn’t see the show, it ended just as we came to the ring).

Meerkat lookout

Meerkat lookout


Elephant bath

Elephant bath

Here's the video I made (finally):
Link to YouTube.


After we had seen everything in the zoo, we went back to the hostel to pick up our bags and set out for Ayutthaya. Once there it took some time to find a hostel. Not because there were no rooms, but because they didn’t want to drop the price, even though it’s low season. Finally, we had dinner at Tony’s and did some shopping. We bought Gege a little birthday cake, to have some sort of celebration after all.

Gege's birthday cake

Gege's birthday cake

Time spent in Asia: 4 days
Sights seen: 8
Travel time: 16 hours

Posted by DanaGege 20:05 Archived in Thailand Tagged nature park thailand zoo bangkok ayuthaya asia dusit Comments (1)

Floating shopping

Or bumper boats

sunny 34 °C
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We had to get up early on Sunday; the bus to the floating market would pick us up at 7:30, so for one day, breakfast in the hostel was served at 7 for us, instead of 7:30.

Bein served breakfast at the Sivarin Guesthouse

Bein served breakfast at the Sivarin Guesthouse

It was very nice to have an air conditioned bus and the motorboat ride to the floating market was refreshing due to the wind and water. But when I say motorboat, don’t misunderstand. It’s a boat (rather long and narrow and riding low in the water) with a motor on a long stick (they steer by moving the stick from left to right), hence motor boat. They go with reasonable speed on the narrow canals, so the wake is significant and sometimes the boats jump over each other’s waves (which makes some Chinese tourist squeak in your ear *g*).

Life along a canal

Life along a canal


House along the water

House along the water



We took a peddle boat around the floating market. Not cheap, but sites is not what we want to save money on, besides, 150 Baht is still peanuts (1 euro = around 40 Baht). I’m glad we decided to take the boat, because – even though it was rather warm – the experience is not the same from the waterfront. The canals are lined with boats that sell stuff, from groceries to tourist crap (mostly tourist crap) and when you’re paddled past, they stick out their hook on a stick and pull you up next to their boat, so you can ‘peruse the wares’. Besides that, there are literal peddlers: smaller peddle boats from which the Thai sell hats, fruit and even wok a meal for you (as the guide said, you can eat on the boat, drink on the boat, but you cannot sleep on the boat). Now imagine the size of an already narrow channel halved by the boats lining it on both sides, full of tourist boats and add the dozens of salesboats and you can imagine that it’s full. We met several traffic jams on the water, at which point a game of ‘bumper boat’ ensues. The skippers gently bump their boats into that of the person next to them and keep peddling, pushing each other out of the way.

Meals being prepared on the boats

Meals being prepared on the boats


Floating fruit

Floating fruit

Link to You Tube.

Once back on shore, we tried kannom krok, a traditional Thai breakfast. It mostly tastes of coconut and is very sweet, but it really wasn’t bad. For my Dutch family and friends, they look like two ‘poffertjes’ stacked on top of each other with the flat side touching. They come filled with pumpkin, spring onion or corn (they like sweet corn here, KFC sells it in an ice cream, imagine a McSundae with corn instead of caramel, weird huh?).

Kannom Krok, a traditional Thai sweet breakfast or desert

Kannom Krok, a traditional Thai sweet breakfast or desert

After this experience, we got the chance to go to a snake farm, but since lonely planet warned that those are turned into circus spectacles where the keepers ‘fight’ with the snakes, we opted out and went back to Bangkok.

The long ride back to the city left us Hungry, so we grabbed a bite in Kaosan road. It was good, but nothing special, but since Kaoson is the backpacker’s street, it was rather expensive. By that I mean 120 Baht, instead of the 50 we paid the day before.

After lunch we climbed the Golden Mountain. Now that sounds impressive, but it’s really not much more than stairs with an attitude. It gave us a nice view over Bangkok however. Also the weird spectacle of a big assortment of laundry lines, full of money.

Money laundring

Money laundring

Stairway encounter

Stairway encounter


View from the Golden Mountain

View from the Golden Mountain

Wat Pho and Wat Arun came next. Wat Pho boasts the largest reclining Buddha in the country: 46 meters long and 16 meters high. It was large and it was a Buddha, that's about all you can say about it. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Collection of Prangs

Collection of Prangs


Reclining Buddha

Reclining Buddha

46 meters oong

46 meters oong


Me, making Europeans proud <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

Me, making Europeans proud ;)

At Wat Arun, we had a ‘Italian softdrink’, which turned out to be syrup (in our case kiwi flavoured) soda and a whole lot of ice. Ice, made from the local tap water. We decided to be brave (or stupid, but warm) and just drink it and hope for the best.

On the boat back to our side of town, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset.

River sunset

River sunset

After a very nice Japanese noodle soup with roasted pork and a stop at the 7/11 it was time to realize that it can’t be vacation forever: I did the laundry.

Time spent in Asia: 3 days
Number of sights seen: 7

Posted by DanaGege 20:42 Archived in Thailand Tagged mountain market thailand bangkok golden floating wat asia Comments (0)

Buddha’d out in the (Kings) National Museum

And skipped the squatting toilets with ass shower

sunny 34 °C
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On Saturday we slept in, trying to catch up on some sleep. I also forgot my already trusted notebook (gift from Dima and Ksju, thanks again guys ) so I had to write everything up after we came back to the hostel.

We had a great breakfast of scrambled egg, toast, orange juice and tea at the hostel (they would add two baby bananas on later days).

First breakfast in Asia

First breakfast in Asia

After that, we made our way to the National Museum again. This time, we had to buy a 200 Baht ticket each (which is about 4 times the price locals pay, but still only around 5 euro), but at least we could check everything out. We estimated an hour or two, but ended up leaving the 40 room large museum at 16.00 instead of around lunch.

We started with the building that was said to contain the history of Thailand, but what it actually contained mostly, was a long, very long praise of all the kings of the country. Seriously people, the Thais love their king. I, personally, believe they are demi-gods: composing, writing literature and poetry, painting, sculpting, photographing and filming, all of them could do all of it and spectacularly good too, according to the information panes. Oh, and they were skilled strategists and leaders too, of course. You don’t believe me? Several of the kings got two museum rooms for their life stories and a little further into the museum, the seashell collections of the most recently deceased king was displayed.

Other things we saw included an insane amount of Buddha’s. They made us eye roll around number 2.000, but we did manage to learn how to identify some of the postures. For example, he can be meditating, repelling fear, teaching, blessing, giving protection or – and there were a lot of these – subduing Mara. Once we've collected enough Buddha pictures, I will create a seperate post on this with explanations.

We also tried to see how the Thai identify their gods Shiva and Vishnu and Harihara, the result of the two gods merged. Ganesha had his own exposition, but having an elephant head, he wasn’t that hard to recognize to begin with. We strive to learn the features of more Buddhist gods along our way.

We missed one room of the museum, because it was ‘closed for lunch’, which made us laugh. But the room full of enormous golden palanquins and chariots (honestly, the entire museum room was blinding, so much gold) and the filthy cheap but tasteful meal at the museum restaurant, more than made up for it. Although I must confess, Gege accidentally stole my Pad Thai (which was tasteful) and I got his dish (which consisted of something green in a slimy sauce (and was rather weird and not that good). But oh well, I got tasty (although peppery) vegetable soup, while he was rewarded with hot and sour soup that was so hot, it made him cough and he didn’t finish it for stomach safety. So all was fair in the end ;).

We were stumped several times in our search for a toilet by meeting squatting toilets with a shower for your ass instead of toilet paper. And I might not have a choice later, but while in civilized Bangkok, I’m opting for toiletpaper.

After our prolongued tour of the museum – during which we were, unfortunately, not allowed to take pictures – we got on a boat to cross the Chao Praya river into Chinatown. It was not the hustle and bustle we expected, but then again, we arrived around closing time. We did find a fun restaurant to eat: a Chinese chain named Texas.

Cable jungle

Cable jungle


Chinatown tourist crap

Chinatown tourist crap


Crab display

Crab display


A whole duck

A whole duck

On our way back to the hostel, we picked up some fresh pinapple and enjoyed some nice evening scenes.

Neon bridge

Neon bridge

Sunset from the dock

Sunset from the dock

The evening was mostly spend on selecting and editing pictures, but we also took a short walk, during which we were surprised by an outdoor and apparently free aerobics class. Now I'm no stranger to gyms, but this was a bit high level for me.

You Tube link.

Also, if any of you have any questions whatsoever about Thailand, the people, the culture, the weather etc. Feel free to ask. I will do my best to answer.

Time spent in Asia: 2 day
Number of sights seen: 4

Posted by DanaGege 22:33 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand bangkok museum wat asia video Comments (2)

Songkran video

As promised

sunny 35 °C
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Link to Youtube.

Also, more pictures of our trip are available on photobucket.

Posted by DanaGege 23:16 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok asia songkran video Comments (0)

Water, Wats and the National Museum sortof

Or, our first day in Bangkok

sunny 34 °C
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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.

Wat?
Yes, wat?
No, Wat?
Oh!

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.

Wat Phra Kaew Bell Tower

Wat Phra Kaew Bell Tower


Wat Phra Kaew overview of buildings

Wat Phra Kaew overview of buildings


Wat Phra Kaew Roof Colours

Wat Phra Kaew Roof Colours

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.

National Museum Temple

National Museum Temple

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.

Emporium shopping centre Vuitton

Emporium shopping centre Vuitton

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

Posted by DanaGege 23:35 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok sights Comments (2)

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