Monday, April 16, 2012

Trip Down South: Bangkok

Recently, through a lucky chain of events, I was able to join Paul on a trip to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. What a place! It is a big city with lots of traffic, but still it seemed fairly easy to get around--at least if you are willing to use a combination of trains, taxis, motor bikes, bikes, and boats. You want to cross the river? Just pay 3 baht (a few cents) to hop on the ferry. Tired from biking? Carry your bike onto the Sky Train. Oh, you are hungry? Here's your fresh mango, right here on the street!

I spent one day biking through the city, on a Co van Kessel bike tour. (Believe it or not, this is a Dutch guy who has now been organizing bike tours for about 30 years. Apparently about 90 percent of his customers is Dutch. )

The next day, I mainly walked through the city (though I also hopped on a ferry and got a massage...) to see some of Bangkok's main sights. On the last day, Paul and I spent a couple hours at the Grand Palace and then strolled past some more temples and through neighborhoods.

(Barely) lifting my bike up and into the train. During the bike ride we had to get our bikes in and out of trains, onto escalators, and into a boat. No wonder ninety percent of Co's clients are Dutch I thought. We are the only ones who put up with this kind of thing and in fact even enjoy it. :-)

We biked on a lot of these narrow paths along and above the water. I stopped and got off to let this motor bike pass.

Our tour lead through some of Bangkok's outskirts. Luckily the city has (until now) protected some green space.

The "icecream truck."  (De ijscoman!)

Locals hard at work.

On the boat. Our tour guide (in yellow) was Thai, but spoke a very interesting blend of English and Dutch.

Getting on the Sky Train.

Be sure to get up for monks!

Biking through all the lovely alleys in Bangkok we also crossed through the "recycling neighborhood." Never in my life have I seen this many engine parts. The whole neighborhood was kind of wild, with thousands of parts neatly organized in gigantic piles. I can barely organize my paper clips, let alone a pile of parts.

A temple in Bangkok's China Town. I almost felt home again.

Wat Arun. This picture doesn't really do it justice. The whole temple is decorated with pieces of broken Chinese pottery. Back in the days, ships from China to Bangkok were carrying Chinese pottery as ballast, but the pieces have been put to very good use.  

The whole outside of the temple is covered with Chinese pottery pieces.

Temple man.

Temple woman.

View across the Chao Phraya River from Wat Arun towards the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.

What a city. Still the view from Wat Arun.

Anna & the Giant Buddha at Wat Pho.

Bigfoot pales in comparison to this guy.

After my visit to Wat Pho, I hopped in a cab to go to the Bangkok National Museum. I learned a lot about Thailand's history (occupied, but never colonized!) and found that of course the Dutch had a long history in the area. (Is there any place we haven't been?) Notice the "The dwelling of the Hollanders" reference on the map.

At the museum.

Catching up with a friend!

After all that walking I needed a rest at the pool.

Bangkok by night. This is the view from the Sky Bar, all the way at the top of the State Tower. If you know Hangover II (the movie, not your Saturday morning last week), you might recognize the view...

In het Nederlands: Ik was laatst een paar daagjes met Paul in Bangkok. Dat kwam toevallig zo uit en de kinderen waren blij dat ze even uit logeren mochten. Een leuke stad vond ik. Als je ooit gaat moet je ook maar eens met Co van Kessel gaan fietsen! :-)

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