Monday, September 23, 2013

Staycation Getaway, Part I: Friday

Friday was a day off from school for us. Instead of escaping to a farther and more exotic locale for a mini-vacation, we decided to stay local and explore Bangkok instead. We booked a hotel for the weekend in China Town, so we wouldn't have to worry about hailing taxis and getting home. 

It was fabulous, and exactly what we envisioned living here would be like when we signed up for this gig: the hustle and bustle; the noise, smells, and sights; the markets; the restaurants and food stalls galore. Being in the middle of it all. And the accessibility! Everything was either within walking distance or within a five-minute taxi ride. I was in heaven. The getaway also was a nice change of scenery, and just enough to rejuvenate and get us through until our next vacation in October. 

Friday was our day in. After checking in at the hotel, we had delicious hot pot for lunch, which was perfect for a dreary and rainy Friday. Then we went out to Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. 

One thing I loved about being downtown was that everyone, even the street vendors, seemed to speak at least a little English. Also, European, Chinese, and American tourists were everywhere, so I heard English and Chinese everywhere we went and felt very comfortable. And the people there apparently have seen enough Asian tourists in their lifetimes, and didn't automatically assume I was Thai (though they appeared skeptical when told I was from win some, you lose some). 

The only complaint about the weekend: we were unable to find any plain, simple pork dumplings anywhere! In China Town! There was dim sum on every block, but alas, no dumplings were to be found. We even asked the hotel information desk and random dim sum restaurants, but they all seemed clueless about what we were talking about. Looks like homemade dumplings will be added to my to-do list!

I was like a kid in a candy store and took pictures of everything, as you can see. happy

The front of our hotel. It doesn't even look three dimensional, but it goes in quite deep.

Entrance to the hotel.

We were served amazing jasmine tea and towels for our hands while we checked in.

The door to our hotel room, which was on the third floor.

Sitting area outside our room. The window behind the chairs looked into our room.

The third floor atrium, right outside our hotel room.

Each of the tables in the atrium had a game displayed. Some tables, like this one, had game boards carved into them. This is for backgammon.

I had fun teaching my son to use an abacus, which my own grandmother had taught me when I was young.

The drapes were open and I was able to peek into the room next door.

The other side of the third floor atrium.

The hotel restaurant on our floor. We had breakfast there both mornings we were there. The staff was so taken with my son that they would ask for hugs and kisses from him every time they saw him, run out of the restaurant just to talk to him, and give him extra food to go (breakfast was free for him, but still a nice gesture).

The middle of the atrium. The opening looked down to a pond on the second floor.

The pond on the second floor.

The foyer of our room.

Complimentary soft drinks, beer, and snacks.

The partition separating the foyer from the bathroom. No privacy here!

The sitting area. The settee was so comfortable.

The bedroom area.

The bathroom. Toilet and shower were in their own separate stalls to the right. I loved this bathroom. It had two things that we don't have at our house: hot water from the sink faucet (we only have hot water in the showers and clothes washer) and a bath tub! The three of us, who aren't bath takers at all, took baths each night.

Tissue origami.

Toilet paper origami.

Lunch! Yes, we had hot pot in China Town in Thailand at a restaurant named Texas Suki.

Mmmmm, hot pot.

After lunch, we took our first ever tuk tuk taxi ride to the pier to then take a river boat taxi to get to Wat Pho. It was a short ride - about five minutes - but so much fun. Our driver didn't seem to be from the area as he had to ask a street vendor for directions to get to the pier. He even asked the street vendor how much he should charge us.

The view out the back of the tuk tuk.

The pier where we caught a river boat taxi, also known as Pier 5.

The pier.

A view of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River from the pier.
Bangkok across the Chao Phraya River.
The boat taxi. This is one of several types of boats people take to get places on the river.

Inside the boat.

View of Bangkok from the boat.

Markets on the pier where Wat Pho is, also known as Pier 8.
More markets at Pier 8.
At last, Wat Pho. Its official name is Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan (Thai: วัดพระเชตุพนวิมลมังคลารามราชวรมหาวิหาร). No, I can't say it either, and no, I don't know why the English translation is so much longer than the Thai!

Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest wats (temple) in Bangkok and is home to more than one thousand Buddha images. It also houses the largest reclining Buddha statue in the world, called the Reclining Buddha (a no brainer), which is 160 feet in length.

We went to Wat Pho mainly to see the Reclining Buddha, but of course, like everything else we've seen so far, there is an entire compound of smaller wats, shrines, and statues that I was unaware of. Like all the wats we have seen so far, the compound is breathtaking, beautiful, elaborate, and so detailed with all the tiles, gold, and jewelry. With every building we saw, my son would ask how long it took to build it. Wish I knew, but I highly doubt it was easy!

Entrance to Wat Pho.

Another entrance.

Inside one of the wats on the grounds.

Pictures of President Obama's visit to Wat Pho in November 2012.
Beautiful, giant spires were all over the compound.

More spires.

Statues like this, as well as of animals and the Buddha, and small waterfalls, could be found throughout the grounds.

One of many cloisters of Buddha statues.

One of several courtyards on the grounds.

Another wat on the grounds.

Buddha statues inside the wat above.

A little scenery under a tree.

More statues.

A pretty lamppost.

Beautiful and majestic.

This line of statues went on for a while in both directions. Wish I could've captured it all.

Details on the side of a wat.

The head of the Reclining Buddha.

The feet.
The entire Buddha.

The bottom of the Reclining Buddha's feet.

The Reclniing Buddha is just to the right of the columns on the right.

Back side of the Reclining Buddha.
The back of the Buddha's head.

On the way out, visitors can pay 20 baht for a tin of coins, which they then drop into bowls along the wall on their way to the exit.

Bowls for the coins. The clanging of the coins echoing inside the wat was quite loud!

A view of Pier 8 from our boat taxi on the way back to our hotel.
We wrapped up our Friday by going to dinner at a dim sum house across the street from our hotel. Yummy!! No pictures, though -- I completely forgot in my haste to taste the food. We also were quite proud that we were able to survive crossing the street amidst all the traffic to and from the restaurant. Now that's what I call a successful day!

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