Showing posts from February 3, 2008

Day 3: What Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace

Today we decided to go see the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, which is inside the palace grounds. To get there, we rode our Skytrain line down to the end of the line, which is right at the river. We then got on the Chao Phraya river taxi. This was extremely enjoyable. The taxis stop at the many docks along the river to load and unload passengers. They are fast, however, and you can't dawdle. In some cases where only a person or two are getting on or off, they may literally stop for 5 seconds before they are off again. A woman with a little metal tube with change in it, that she shakes a lot so you can hear her, comes around to sell tickets. The trip up the river to the pier where the Grand Palace is located costs 15 baht, or about 45 cents. An unbeatable bargin, in my view. The river along the river is very nice; it's cool and pleasant. This is pretty much the best way to travel in BKK. Here's a short video of the ride.

We get off at the North 9 dock. The dock…

Day 2: Chatuchak Weekend Market

We are having trouble getting our sleep cycles back to normal. I could not go to sleep until after 4 am last night, and then woke up at 6, went back to sleep at 9, and slept until 2 pm. Not good. Gotta get that sorted out before Monday, when I have to be back at the office.

Anyway, the second day we were there, Sunday the 27th of January, we decided to check out Chatuchak Weekend Market. Some people claim that this is the largest market in Asia, with between 8,000 and 12,000 stalls, depending on where you read. All I know is that it is massive. The nice part is that the Skytrain goes right there; it is at the northern terminus of the longer line.

I think that pretty much anything you want could be found at this market, if you could find it. We had a copy of Nancy Chandlers excellent Bangkok shopping map, which helped a lot, but it was still a challenge. It was packed with people, crowded, stuffy, chaotic and amazing all at the same time. Some people apparently stay here for two…

Day 1: MBK center and Jim Thompson house

OK, I have managed to drag myself away from Bioshock for long enough to start the more in depth, illustrated trip report. We'll see how long I can resist the allure of this fantastic game. BTW, if anyone reading this likes games, or humor, and you have not seen Zero Punctuation yet, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. It is brilliant.

OK, so the first day we were in Bangkok (BKK) we pretty much took it easy. We walked down to the Skytrain (think Chicago's el trains, but newer and nicer) station about a 5 minute walk from the hotel and rode up to the huge MBK mall. Holy crap, is this mall enormous. First off, it's seven stories tall, and fairly large laterally as well. There is a whole floor that is almost entirely cellphones. Here is a view of the central atrium area.
Among the many amusing things here was the Ronald McDonald that wais passersby. Pretty funny.

We got lunch that day in the food court at the mall. Now, food courts in Thailand are much, much…
We just made it home safe and sound. The trip back was not as bad as the trip there, but it never is for me. More details with pictures this weekend.

Well, in half an hour we go back to the Chiang Mai airport and fly back to Bangkok, and tomorrow at 6:40 am we leave for our interminable flight back to the states. I am sad to leave Chiang Mai, which really is a great city. I am even sadder about the horrible flight we have coming up. The good part is it should be significantly shorter than the flight here, which was pretty bad. The total travel time from our front door there in PV to the hotel in Bangkok was 30 hours and 15 minutes. The way back should be a little better, since the cross pacific flight is about 2 hours shorter, since you are not fighting headwinds.

I'll post more details, including pictures, over the course of the weekend. After I recover from jet lag, that is. Fun fact, we leave here at 6:40 am local time, and arrive home about 6:30 pm local time, after traveling for about 24 hours. Stupid round planet and time zones...
Today was the day we had our cooking class. We had the full day course at A Lot of Thai and it was fantastic. Yui, the instructor, was very helpful, and walked us through all of the dishes. The class is taught in her home, so the size is small, with a maximum of 8 people, so you can really get individual attention if you need it.

You start of by her showing you how to do things, then you go back to your station (which each person has) and cooking the dish yourself. They you eat it. We made three dishes in the morning, Green Curry Chicken, Chicken Stir Fry, and Pad Thai, all of which came out great.

Then, you take a break and she takes you on a tour of a local market near their home. She shows you a bunch of different ingredients and the like. This market was a real, local market where regular Thai people shop. Things were so cheap there, and other than our group, I saw one other farang, which was pretty cool. I took some great pictures, too, which I will share when I get bac…
Monday we went to the Elephant Nature Park another official link here, wikipedia entry here. This was an amazing experience, I must say. This park is different from the usual elephant 'dog and pony show'. At those shows, the elephants do stupid tricks that they have been taught, at Elephant Nature Park (ENP) the elephants just get to be elephants. They wander freely, while at the other parks they are chained up when not working. They woman who founded and runs the place, Lek, is an amazing person. In addition to the 31 elephants, there are also 50 some odd dogs, several cats, water buffalo, and some cattle. As you might guess, Lek is quite an animal lover. She founded this park as a place to save elephants who have been treated poorly, as many of the elephants at other places are. In fact, you watch a very good video from National Geographic that, among other things, demonstrates how elephants are trained for the trekking companies and the shows. Let's just sa…
Well, we decided to take it easy today. After breakfast, which was terrific as usual, we went for a walk in town. We ended up having lunch at a really good middle eastern place called Jerusalem Falafel. It was great. We also did some shopping along one of the main streets in town. We also vainly looked for a place to do some laundry. We never found a laundromat per se, but we did find a place where we could drop it off and pick it up later. It should be ready at 8 tonight, so we'll head there after dinner. It is conveniently very close by.

Yesterday I finally managed to get some cigars, so I had an extremely enjoyable afternoon sitting on our porch and smoking an excellent Cohiba. Great times. Had a Romeo y Julieta today, and it was great as well.

Tomorrow we go to Elephant Nature Park which promises to be a lot of fun. I'll write all about it, including pictures, when we get back. The day after that is our cooking class.

Well, almost time to go to dinner.