14 September, our first morning in Bangkok and my brother, his girlfriend and I head to Kao San Road. Probably not the best plan we’ve ever had as we quickly work out that most of the shops on Kao San Road aren’t even open yet. I take the chance to grab a cold drink and some money from an ATM (hoping that my ATM card doesn’t get chewed up on my very first day).
We decided to instead head for the river, which is the Chao Phraya River. We are looking to do a longtail boat canal tour and organise a ride to the river so we can get a boat. The driver drops us at a road which leads to the river, but this turns out to be not the right spot and we work out that we need to head further along the river to find the right pontoon. We walk for about 20 minutes and, being used to a Melbourne climate, notice its getting very warm already.
We find the spot we need and organise our boat trip which will take us down the Chao Phraya River in our colourful longboat for our morning river cruise.
We pass along behind gold statues and down smaller canals lined with original timber homes. We come across, and stop to buy, some “lucky bread” for THB$20 (AU$1) to feed the fish in the canal.
We manage to quickly get the fish into a wild frenzy. It is a relaxing way to start the morning (for us, not for the fish).
From here we decide to head to the Royal Lapidary. The reason we decide to do this is because several people have told us (already) that if we want to buy some jewellery while in Bangkok, this is the place to go. I hadn’t planned on buying any jewellery but am happy to take a look. On arrival we are first given a brief compulsory (I mean complimentary) tour of the front of house after which we are led to the showroom.
About a half hour later…my brother’s girlfriend is the recipient of a ruby ring from my brother. They have a long history together but are not married so this means a lot to his girlfriend – my brother departs with several hundred Australian dollars (ouch). So far the store is winning in liberating us of our money. Now my turn….I figure it’s a special holiday keepsake and soon I am also liberated of several hundred dollars for a pair of (supposedly) 18k while gold ruby earings. Bargain or ripped off? At this point I am not so sure but regardless, I am happy, my brother and (especially) his girlfriend is happy and so we leave with our receipts from “Royal Jewellery” and our genuine “Certificate of Guarantee”.
From here we take a Tuk-Tuk to the Grand Palace but before heading off to fully explore we decide to grab some lunch first. I love a Thai curry and my first Thai lunch was always going to be a curry regardless of the climate, it was just a matter of what colour curry….red or green? The green curry is chosen and is excellent (nearly as good as the local Thai restaurant back home).
We spend the afternoon at the Grand Palace, exploring and wandering among the many buildings.
Also at the Grand Palace is the temple Wat Phra Kaeo. My trusty Rough Guides book tells me this is regarded as one of the holiest sites in the country and the Emerald Budha is the most important image. The Grand Palace is considered one of the unmissable sites in Bangkok (unlike the Royal Lapidary…).
It is late afternoon and we decide on getting a taxi back to the Hotel De Moc where we have an afternoon beer and relax by the pool.
We have organised a Taxi 6:30pm to take us to the Patpong Night Bazaar (“bazaar” being something I hope it is not going to be). On the way there our taxi driver helpfully says the temperature today was 40 degrees….
I love a mild night (like tonight) and even better is a mild night in Thailand wandering the length of Patpong Road and enjoying the atmosphere. We break up our wandering with a refreshing beverage at the “Happy Beer Garden” (which I think is a much better name than, say, the “Sad Beer Garden”).
Finally its time to head back to our hotel to see what’s happening on the freeway before calling it a night.[showmyads]
For previous Vietnam post see Departing Melbourne for Bangkok, Thailand and our holiday takes off
For next Vietnam post see Wat we did in Bangkok, Thailand is Wat Pho and Wat Intharawihan
(As a postscript to my Royal Lapidary visit, I wish to clarify that I have yet to have my jewellery valued in Australia and have seen forums disputing the credibility of the Royal Lapidary so I an not recommending you visit there and do suggest you research independently as to their credibility or otherwise).