I slept in today and only left the hostel at noon. I knew 37C weather outside would be unbearable so it was really hard to leave the air conditioned confines of my hostel room.
In fact, I dread just walking into the hallway down to the common bathrooms as it’s like a sauna everywhere else in the building.
For breakfast I had that wonderful pad thai I had ordered for takeaway last night. Screw bacon and eggs – give me pad thai!
Equipped with good information about what to see and how to get there, I headed out towards the Chao Phraya River.
Once again I glided through the transit system here like a pro and found myself at the station down by the waterfront.
A short walk and I was at Sathorn Pier ready to delve into Bangkok’s ferry service.
Annie, the lady who runs the hostel had walked me through everything I needed to know when it came to the ferries so I felt pretty confident as I came up to the pier.
She had told me the tourist ferries charged 40 baht ($1.25) and the ferry the locals used only cost 15 baht (50 cents). Her advice was to just follow the locals and board the ferry they did.
When I approached the pier I saw a sign with two arrows. On the left hand sideI could see a bunch of tourists lined up and on the right hand side were only a handful of locals.
So, I went to the right.
Turns out that while, yes, I was boarding a ferry primarily used by the locals, it was the wrong boat as this one only did a quick cross of the river instead of going all the way up the river.
I laughed it off as I landed on the other side of the river bank, paid my 3 baht and then paid another 3 baht to just go straight back. Well there goes 20 minutes.
No big deal – I had all the time in the world.
When I got back to where I started I went over to the other side where all the tourists were. There were different booths setup selling tour packages but I just kept walking.
I saw two signs, one with a blue flag that read “already have a ticket” and the other one with a orange flag that read “no ticket”.
Then I remembered an important tidbit that Annie had said, and that was that the ferry with the blue flag was the tourist one and the one with the orange flag was the one I wanted.
It all started to make sense now as the people in the blue flag line had indeed already bought a ticket – a tour package ticket – while the locals in the orange line were just lining up and paying as they boarded the boat.
Get all that?
Don’t worry if you didn’t, it’s not really that important…
Just know that I boarded the ferry with the orange flag carrying mostly locals.
The ferries run a route up the river stopping at a dozen or so piers to drop off and pick up along the way.
The plan today was to go to Pier number 8 (Tha Tien Pier) to see Wat Arun and Wat Pho followed by a short walk over to the Grand Palace and then onto the big backpacker touristy district on Khao San Road.
I arrived at my ferry stop around 1pm. First on the list – Wat Arun.
I actually had to catch another short 3 baht ferry to the other side to see this one. Luckily I knew exactly what I was doing thanks to my dry run with the earlier river crossing.
This temple isn’t as big a tourist destination as some of the others (as I would soon find out) so it was kind of nice to wander the grounds with only a dozen or so other people.
The architecture here is amazing and even though I already saw my fill of temples in Siem Reap just mere days ago I still had some temple watching still in me.
Beautiful, just simply beautiful. I climbed as high as they would let us carefully navigating the narrow and very steep stairs to get about halfway up that monument to see the spectacular views from above.
After going through my 3rd bottle of water in just over an hour I was ready to cross back over the river to Wat Pho.
Wat Pho is better known as the temple with the reclining buddha.
Now, this temple is a big tourist trap as there were hundreds of people milling around. I navigating myself around them as best I could waiting patiently over and over again for people to get the hell out of the way so I could take my pictures.
The building housing the reclining buddha is huge as the statue itself is quite long. Before entering everyone had to take off their shoes and there was also a rack for modified house coats for people (mostly women) to wear if they weren’t dressed appropriately.
Just as a side note – I’ve noticed a few people arriving at temple sites improperly dressed from tight spandex pants to a dress with a slit all the way up the side. Today there was a girl in short shorts, no bra and a halter top emblazoning the american flag.
Seriously, are these people really that clueless? I’m pretty sure every guide book out there tells people about the proper dress code for temples. How do they not know?
Anyway, enough about that.
After visiting the reclining buddha I walked around the temple. There was some sort of ceremony being held in one of the buildings where 10 monks were sitting humming as a girl prayed in front of them. I joined about 20 others and knelt on the floor in silence observing.
I’m always mindful of respecting the culture and religion so I chose not to take any photos while I was in the ceremony and waited until I was outside the building to zoom in and take a photo as, let’s face it, I’m probably never going to see a row of monks like this again in my life.
By now it was 3:30 and I was wiped out. Even though I was drinking water like it was going out of style I could feel myself wearing down.
I decided to skip the rest of my planned trip for today and instead do it tomorrow. I had nothing planned for tomorrow anyway so it works out just fine.
I took the ferry and skytrain back for 45 minutes back to my neighbourhood. I didn’t go straight to my hostel though because there was a little matter of eating some lunch/dinner that needed to be tended to.
I stopped once again at the little stall where I had the pad thai last night and ordered up another batch. Just can’t get enough of this stuff!
The rest of the day was just me hanging out in the hostel relaxing and doing a little planning for the next parts of my trip.
Anyway, that was my day in Bangkok. Sorry if you’re reading this with the hope of reading about some of the night life and debauchery going on here but I’m just in a place right now where I just don’t want to be a part of that.
For me right now it’s just about relaxing and seeing the sites.
Which is exactly what I’ll be doing tomorrow…