SIAM'S STAGEAfter our wonderful day in Ayutthaya, we headed back to Bangkok for a chance to check out what this capital city has to offer.  It took another 90 minutes on the train, this time packed with locals and travelers alike.  You could barely move up and down the aisles and there were definitely not enough seats to go around.  What made it even harder were the freelance vendors going up and down the aisles through every car trying to sell all kinds of food and beverages, the majority of them mystery meats.  The train’s route was quite beautiful in the daytime, a fact we were unable to confirm during our nighttime jaunt on the way out.  As we neared the city we were able to see a lot more of the neighborhoods that have popped up along the tracks, some merely feet away from the bustling trains.  I even saw a medium-sized crocodile sunning on the side of a small puddle.  After the hot, crowded conditions of the train ride, we were very thankful to arrive at our hostel.

Accommodation is pricier here so we were shocked to pay almost $30/night for a bunk bed room with no toilet, but then we thought about hotel costs at home and relaxed a little.  It is a lot for the area, but I guess prices skyrocket in this city. I will admit though, that the Lub D Hostel at the Silom location was wonderful – cozy beds, comfy pillows, super clean bathrooms (even though we shared with the whole floor), free wifi, and a nice hangout area.  We didn’t socialize too much with fellow travelers this time but it would have been very easy to do so here.

After settling in and resting up we set out for the night to explore the night market at Siam Square.  I was surprised to see how  it was squeezed onto a small sidewalk.  Passing through the stalls and successfully avoiding the oncoming foot traffic proved difficult.  This particular market mainly sold clothing and shoes.  It is still unclear if that is the market we intended on exploring, but it was the only one we could find in the area, so we assumed it in fact was the Siam night market.  Part of the sidewalk was closed for construction so I am sure that at times it is far more impressive than it was that evening.

NIGHT MARKET

We also roamed through the huge mall at Paragon.  Here you can find all the fancy brands.  And the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia.  I REALLY wanted to check it out, but for nearly $30 each, we passed, instead opting to wander the streets to see what else we could find.  As we neared our hostel’s neighborhood, we checked out another market we stumbled upon, this one the Patpong Market.  This one packed more souvenirs than clothing but was lined with naughty bars, each with men and women alike shoving programs in your face advertising strip clubs, and fancy “tricks” the girls can do…you know what I mean…  Even with me on Rob’s arm, they continued trying to get us in.  That kind of ruined the relaxed walk through the market we had intended on.

PRAYER FLAGSThe next day sort of just fell into place.  We headed out for a wander and came across Oriental Pier where we jumped on the next ferry to sail up the Chao Phraya River until we decided what to do next.  The thing was packed and we assumed it was free but it turns out it was just so full that they weren’t able to get money from everyone.  Being squashed for a few stops was worth the free ride. We hopped off at Tha Tien pier, which was completely flooded and covered in makeshift wooden bridges, and caught another small ferry to cross the river to Wat Arun.  Since it charged only a small fee we decided to hike up the steep steep stairs (more like a ladder) to the top to admire the view.  Not bad, but from that angle, Bangkok is not the most attractive – we were standing atop the most beautiful aspect of the skyline.

PHRA UBUSOT ORDINATION HALL BANGKOK FERRY MONK PRAYING PHRA UBUSOT ORDINATION HALL

From there we ate at a local street vendor before strolling over to the gorgeous Grand Palace.  We hadn’t planned on going in since we thought there was a hefty fee attached, but we got in for free.  Perhaps it’s only complimentary to see the grounds but costs to go inside the palace?  Anyway, even men had to cover their legs so Rob got to wear some styling flowy elephant printed pants. They were rocking.  We got to check out the beautiful grounds for free, including a glimpse inside the Temple of The Emerald Buddha, where high atop a gold-adorned structure sits the famed 2000 year-old Emerald Buddha, small in stature but not in significance.  He is so cherished that he has three sets of gold outfits, changed for the seasons by the king or an appointed affiliate.

PALACE STEEPLES

Eager to strip off our extra layers, we moved on to Wat Pho, which houses the famous Reclining Buddha, approximately 45 feet long.  You can barely find a spot in the temple to view the whole thing in a glance.  It is so big and so beautiful.  I highly suggest seeing it, even though you’ll be dodging the elbows of other camera-wielding visitors.

LARGEST RECLINING BUDDAH FACE SHIMMERING ROOF MONKS ON THE MOVE

We headed back to our hostel after that to clean up and cool off before venturing out to see a cabaret show at Calypso located at Asiatique the Riverfront.  To me, Asiatique resembled a Downtown Disney-esque vibe with plenty of diverse dining options and shops throughout various warehouses.  The complex was well lit and comfortable for either a nighttime stroll or a shopping spree.  We both enjoyed the cabaret show starring an all male cast, most whom you could not tell were men.  It was very impressive – the lighting and wardrobes left us stunned!  The sound system needed improving but other than that, it was very enjoyable.  I didn’t recognize many of the songs but the performers did a great job, especially in the traditional Thai dance bit – that was my favorite.  I love this quote from their website:

“CALYPSO was lucky to meet the rare talents and astounding beauty of its THAI TRANSGENDER ARTISTS and since created this show with their uniqueness as the absolute center of the stage.  The presentation of these outstanding  performers as a show of strength of mind, celebrating the human diversity, communicating the spirit of tolerance and most of all the roller coaster joy of a LIVE STAGE filled with music, dance, beauty and PEOPLE FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE PEOPLE.”

After the show we had planned on visiting Khaosan Road to check out a bit of the nightlife but by the time we reached the ferry pier, boats had stopped running, so we took it as a sign and returned to the hostel to start getting ready for yet another change of scenery, this time a hotel closer to the airport for our departure to Myanmar.

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