one short day (Part 1)
“… Pairs of MALE Elephants will be released to the forest of America. There is hope that they will grow in number…”
~King of Siam (Yul Bryner, The King and I 1956)
The day started with a half-baked excitement. We pretty much wasted more than two hours looking for the money changer that would accept our Peso bills. After 140 Baht on the cab meter, several kilometers of Bangkok sprinting action and litters of juicing fat squeezing out our pores, we couldn’t help but pacify the plea of our intestinal parasites, so we settled with a 7-Eleven brunch. To our surprise, the iced coffee tastes better than most non-Starbucks lattes, and the spicy chicken floss sandwich is no less palatable than those of Bread Talk’s—not bad for a 100 Baht meal. We’re not sure if it was a subconscious compensation because we were (at that point) technically broke; or it was really that good. It became our refuge for the entire three days of Thai shenanigan.
Walking around Bangkok was definitely not a walk in the park for us, as we had difficulties going to places simply because road signs are all in Thai and not a lot of people can speak English. In some cases we got shooed even before we even got the chance to say Sawasdee Ka/Krup. So, get used to the classic rejection “No English!”
When I think of Thailand, the first thing that comes in to my mind would be the temples. And yes there’s a fair share of temples in Bangkok and it’s not an outlandish experience if you stumble with one of them while walking around the city. In our case we came across Wat Intharawihan, Wat Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit, Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew. I know it’s a mouthful, the official names are even longer, even a spelling bee wiz will get an epistaxis (READ: Nose bleed).
If it’s not for the monks, Thai signage, temples, tuktuk’s and the endemic sightings of the King’s pictures, we would feel that we are in the Philippines. The weather and people are so much like of what we have back home. We even, at times, accidentally call the street vendors “Ate” and the drivers “Manong.”
TIP: Tuktuk ride costs between 50-150 baht depending on the destination. But you can have the ride for free. Try to negotiate with the driver to bring you to affiliated commercial establishments (Jewelry stores, textile shops, souvenir outlets and the likes) they get a fuel vouchers for every tourist that they can bring regardless if you’ll buy or not. This will consume 20-30 minutes of your time, but the deal is fair considering you get a free ride to your desired destination. We did this the whole time we were in Bangkok to save few of hundredths of Baht.
FACT: The traditional name of Bangkok is ‘Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit’. It is listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest name for a place.
There are other things we could’ve done if we had sufficient funds to finance our caprice. One is experiencing the infamous Muay Thai game. We asked around for the price of a ticket, and realized it was too expensive–“dude, we don’t have plans of taking home the fighters after the match… and with that price, we can resurrect the male Nong Toom.” So Muay Thai is definitely out the window.
Instead, we decided to gravitate towards the classic over pop—We bought tickets to the Grand Palace. According to the map that we snatched from the hostel, the Grand Palace is behind this temple thingamajig which turned out to be several kilometers away, GREAT!
Outside the ticket booth, tourists from all over are coming in and out like there’s a relief operation happening inside the complex. Ticket costs around 700 baht. OK, fair! We can stay and hang around the entire day savoring history, art, architecture and what not. But to our dismay, another unfortunate thing happened…
to be continued