Monday, October 28, 2013

10-18-13 The Temple Tour of Bangkok

     I woke up today with 3 different plans with 3 different people, but let me backtrack a little first. 
     Yesterday, as I moved into my hostel and finally showered, a guy who was moving into one of the mixed dorms waved at me from the doorway. Confused, I walked up to him and we talked a little--he actually wanted to find out if I knew where he was supposed to stay in the hostel. Anyway, I learned a bit about him; he was traveling from Israel, a rural-ish area, and was in Bangkok for a night, planning to head to Chiang Mai the next day. I forgot how long he was planning to travel, but he was going to visit other countries in South East Asia.
     So my three plans were to explore the temples with a friend, take a bus across Bangkok to see my other friend Lindsay and go shopping, or go exploring with the Israeli traveler. While the guy from Israel and I were in the lobby eating breakfast, two other guys turned to us and we all agreed to visit the temples and Chinatown (Yaowarat). I let Lindsay know and she decided she would join us.
     She waited for a bus for about 30 minutes and then took it for about an hour just to reach me. Poor girl!!! Meanwhile, my new traveler friends, Matthias from Austria, Elbert from Boston, and Yaer from Israel all decided to walk to the Emerald Palace. Yaer had already visited it though, so we all decided to try to meet him in Chinatown at a certain time. (That plan never panned out, unfortunately, so we will probably never meet him again, especially since he then went to Chiang Mai by bus.)
     Matthias, Elbert, and I walked around the Grand Palace (Emerald Palace) for a long time, taking seemingly millions of photos. Lindsay arrived, and then we all walked to Yaowarat (Chinatown)--our original plan was actually to eat somewhere and then take  a bus to Chinatown, but as we wandered around looking for food, we ended up about 2 blocks away from Chinatown.

Outside of the palace, this stood
in the middle of an intersection

We first visited the city pillar shrine.

The shrine

Then, we visited the Emerald Palace. :)

I don't know who that is, but the place
was beautiful. Everything towered
over us and it was all so ornate that 
it almost seems impossible to create
and design such beauty.

Just look at it! Breathtaking!

The handrails of the buildings were
made of dragon feet.

Half animal, half human

Demons carrying the buildings

You have to be quiet, you can't take
pictures, and you have to cover your
shoulders and legs before entering.
You could pray inside for the Buddha.

Elbert (that's not him) took one of those flowers and 
tapped us with it, blessing us with holy(?) water.

     Thailand’s maps and streets are really interesting. Everything seems a lot closer than you think it’ll be; Chinatown was supposed to be “far” from us, yet somehow, we ended up there just by wandering and crossing some streets. 
     Let me tell you about what I expected to see in Chinatown. I wanted great Chinese food, lots of Chinese stores, and something that looked like all the other Chinatowns I’ve seen. That was not what we saw AT ALL. Chinatown was just like the rest of Bangkok: it was crowded with stands all over the place, tuk tuks (taxis, since I forgot to clarify earlier), cars, motorbikes in the small alleys, and it was just not a Chinatown to me. There were some Chinese stores with gold jewelry, but we couldn’t even find Chinese sit-down restaurants. Because we were all starving, we sat at a little stand and had roast duck and pork, which I realize I really miss from home. :( 

China Town!

From left to right: Me, Elbert, Matthias, Lindsay 
eating our duck and pork with rice. YUM.

     At that hour (2 PM?), all the stands were already out of rice and noodles, so for the four of us (Lindsay, Matthias, Elbert, and me), we shared 2 plates of rice. The roast pork was crispy (yum!) but full of fat. At first, I tried to cut off all the fat, but realized it was useless and I would be left with tiny pieces of meat. I guess I need fat anyway, since I haven’t been eating a lot at all since I’ve gotten to Thailand, so I started just eating it all. Yum... haha, not really.

Custard thing we ate as we left. I was so happy
because it reminds me of home, since my mom
makes custard buns for us. :) I even told my friends that.

     We voted to leave Chinatown and headed to a different Wat (temple). We enjoyed looking at the Reclining Buddha. Elbert had to leave to catch his bus though to go to Chiang Mai, so we said goodbye. 
Temple with the Reclining Buddha (Wait for it!)

Lindsay and me!

She was showing too much skin, so she
had to cover herself up. Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles!

The Reclining Buddha's face

The Reclining Buddha's entire body

The Buddha's feet

Zooming into the feet designs

Just look at that. Someone designed all of these. Amazing!

When we walked outside, we saw cats on pedestals.
(lol jk)

We did see some crazy people taking pictures of 
cats (*cough*), so I took pictures of those people.
(LOL I must look like that all the time.)

The rest of us headed over to Wat Arun as the sun was setting and had a lot of fun climbing up and down the steps.

The sun setting as Lindsay, Matthias, and I 
rode a boat over to Wat Arun.

Wat Arun

Me and Matthias climbing up the steep steps. I was
tripping over my skirt, so I had to lift it up (sorry!)

What I wrote when I reached the top

Descending backwards!

"I'm a man!" I was saving him, I promise! haha

Taking selfies lol

Me with Wat Arun in the background

     Our feet sore and tired, we took a boat back to Khaosan Road. On the boat, someone called my name, and it was actually one of the ATI group members! She was traveling on her own to the Khaosan Road area to stay at a hostel with other friends.

Off the boat

     To shorten this story, I ended up walking Lindsay to a bus stop, said bye to Matthias, headed back to take a shower, completely changed my plans of resting to go out to meet a different friend, and took the B.T.S., the sky train! I met my friend and a whole bunch of other people from our ATI group at the Asoke stop, which is perfect because they were all about to head to a big party area of Bangkok, a street called RCA. I only ate popcorn for dinner (not on purpose... I just didn’t have time with all my traveling to sit down to eat), so the night was a little disastrous for me. I ended up crashing on one of my friend’s couches.

Barely half of this was eaten for my dinner.

Leaving this area of Bangkok tomorrow though, so hooray!

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