It's a grey, overcast day in Bangkok today. Iva has left us to continue her SE Asia tour in Cambodia.
Those two statements might be related...
But we're trading in a Pula Girl for two Belgians:
Yes, Thomas and Eva are in Thailand!
Totally not a coincidence. While Iva may have persuaded us to join her in Thailand for her vacation, what further convinced us to come here was knowing that Thomas and Eva were also spending their vacation here as well! We have been so social the last couple of months and we just want it to continue!
Since we had arrived a couple of days earlier than our Belgian friends, we took them on the requisite temple tour
I always thought bonsai was a Japanese art, but it originated in China and other Asian cultures have their version too.
Farang those bells, Neda
There are statues and pictures of the King of Thailand everywhere. He is a very important figure in the country.
We've discovered that it is a serious crime to speak ill of the King and his throne in Thailand. It's called Lèse majesté and it's different in Thailand than other countries that enforce this rule. In Thailand it's against the law to criticize any royal aspect of Thai life, from development projects, to all members of the Royal family, distant past and present. The Internet is heavily policed and a Thai tour operator got sentenced to 60 years imprisonment for insulting the King on Facebook. Last year, a man from Bangkok was arrested for making sarcastic comments about the King's dog.
I'm going to have to watch my sense of humour while I'm here... :( Good thing I'm all about the self-deprecation!
I think you're allowed to make fun of Thai elephants. But why would you? They're beautiful! Can't wait to see one in person.
So we've been hanging out with Thomas and Eva for the day, showing them what little we know of Bangkok since we have a 24-hour head start on them, when it becomes very clear that the grey skies above us just cannot tolerate the fact that we are dry. They welcome us to Thailand the RideDOT.com way.
Watching these temple workers sweep water off the floor of the temple in the pouring rain is like watching Sisyphus roll that rock up the hill
"Dry season in Bangkok extends from November to February" -- The Internet
From underneath the awning that we are hiding under, Thomas and Eva glare at us. Almost as if they are blaming us for all of this rain... I shrug my shoulders and look helpless, but deep inside I know we are the real reason it's raining. :(
An interesting thing happened while we were waiting for the rains to stop. A Thai lady also stopped under the same awning we were all under and started speaking Thai to me. Once again, I shrugged my shoulders and told her I didn't speak Thai. She responded, "Oh, I thought you were a tour guide".
Because if you're Asian in Thailand and hanging out with a bunch of farangs, you *must* be a tour guide! :D Well, it's better than constantly being called "Jackie Chan!" in Latin America...
Well the rain wasn't going to stop, so we walked into Chinatown during a period of light drizzle
I'm often asked if I can tell the difference between Thai, Chinese and other Asian races. Because apparently I should be an expert. But truthfully, I can't tell. And judging from the "tour guide" comment, Thai people can't tell the difference either.
Thomas, being the perfect gentleman, gives Eva a lift over the flooded streets up onto the sidewalk
After this picture was taken, Neda gave me a lift up onto the sidewalk as well. True love, people. It comes in all forms.
Finding veggies to feed the vegetarians was a strangely difficult task in Chinatown
Rain looks to be letting up
A constant feature on the streets of Bangkok: a dense canopy of telephone and electricity cables overhead
Street vendors selling food
Apart from her lactose intolerance, which Neda has finally licked (like an ice cream cone), we've both been fairly free of stomach bugs - pretty much ever since leaving Latin America. But now that we're out of Europe, we're a bit wary about getting sick from the food in SE Asia. But everything looks sooooo good though!
Strolling through some of the open air markets
Street food is sooo cheap. Typical dishes are about $1USD.
Thomas and Eva live a bit outside of the downtown core, so they introduced us to their mode of transport - the river boat
Buddhist monks get free transportation all over Thailand. There are special seats and waiting areas for them
The Chao Phraya River is the main waterway that cuts through Bangkok
Wat Arun temple on the shores of the Chao Phraya River
We must have the worst luck when it comes to visiting famous monuments. The Roman Colosseum, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Glockenspiel in Munich, the Kizhi Pogost in Russia... all covered up in scaffolding. New RideDOT.com curse? Rain and scaffolding, coming soon to a city near you!
Our last stop of the day, the backpackers paradise: Khao San Road
I can't believe how touristy this place is. Nothing but hippie farangs walking up and down the length of the street. Wall-to-wall stores selling cheap custom-made suits of dubious quality, cheap massages, cheap souvenirs and cheap food and beer. Neda and I managed to dodge the tailors and souvenir stores, but:
Neda fell victim to the cheap $3 half-hour foot massage
Stalls selling all kinds of food
We found an outdoor restaurant and ordered cheap Thai food which was not very good at all. We know what good Thai food tastes like and Khao San Road is *not* the place to get it. We've been here for a few days now and Bangkok is kinda wearing on our nerves. It's so crowded here, and there are so many western tourists it hardly feels like a foreign country. We came here to relax and it's obvious this is not the place to do it, so we're not going to stay long. Thomas and Eva aren't big city people either, so they're leaving the day after to do jungles and beaches, which is our cue to get out of here as well.
More Khao San Road at night
It's so nice hanging out with Thomas and Eva again. We said goodbye to them back in July, not knowing when we'd ever see them again, and here we are together once again! So I think we've all learned our lesson. It's never "goodbye", but always "seen you again!"