Friday, 4 January 2013

Pad Thai and Foot Massages, what a life!

It was 9 30am local time, on Thursday when we arrived at the Viengtai Hotel, in the Banglamphu district of Bangkok. Thailand is 7 hours ahead of us, which meant we had been travelling for 21 hours and we were both knackered!

However, by this point I already knew I was going to like Thailand, I had been sent a sign, for as soon as we set off in our waiting car, we were passed by numerous taxis ... And they all were PINK!! Electric pink if I were to be precise!

On arriving at the hotel we were informed that our room would not be ready for another two hours! Seeing as we were situated in one of the 'quieter' roads in the middle of the main bars and restaurants, we thought we would go for a little reckie - But we got as far as approximately five shops up the road, found a 7eleven, each bought a bottle of water then returned to the hotel lounge, were we sat in an exhausted comatose state until our room was ready.
Unpacked and ready to ... sleep!

The hotel room is great and it didn't take long to settle in and pass out on the bed just for a little forty winks.

Four and a half hours later we woke up!

After a quick shower, we were off over the road to one of the many restaurants for dinner where I had my first of many authentic Pad Thais.

The restaurant was called 'My Darling' and as I ate, I looked around at the various statues of Buddha scattered around us, each one different in size and composure and then I looked up to see sitting in the tree above us, was one of Spider-Man?!

After eating we went for a walk amongst the market stalls and traders, i was excited about all the things I was going to buy before the trip was over. It was a pleasant surprise that we weren't hassled or stared at, or pestered to have our picture taken, as had happened to me on too many occasions in India. So far we have only had one person ask if we are sisters! And that was by an American woman at Heathrow airport! She had asked Karen after seeing us talking together and assumed that we must be seeing as we both have ginger hair!

Anyway back to our first night in lovely Thailand ... Having walked around so much that my feet and ankles had literally swollen, I had the perfect excuse to treat myself to a foot massage, available at numerous shops along the strip. With so many to chose from we decided on the one nearest the hotel. What a perfect way to end the day, a nice relaxing half hour foot massage and all for the grand price of ... £2.50!!

This morning the alarm went off at 9 and after a sumptuous breakfast of banana and pancakes, ( somehow I am not sure that I am going to lose the same stone and a half that I lost in India!!) we walked along to the Ratanakosin district where we went in search of The Grand Palace.

En route we were distracted by the amulet market, so went for a little nosey I there. The amulets come in all varieties, mainly depicting a Buddha or Monk. There were some strange carvings about the size if a finger that I picked up to look at, declaring, "Oh these look like whistles". Karen burst out laughing and quietly muttered under her breath. "You may want to put those down, they are the religious penises worn to help fertility!"

Without enough time to go red with embarrassment, I dropped the wooden phallus back on the counter and moved on to admire a rather nice carving of a cat! But do you think I could now be pregnant!?

The Thai Royal Family are highly respected out here, so much so that it is a criminal offence to criticise or make any defamatory remarks about them. Practically every household will display a picture of the King and Queen. In fact as you make your way along the busy streets you will find various enormous pictures and 'shrines' to them. There is even a special language called 'rajasap' (royal language), when either addressing or talking about them.

When Rama 1 was crowned in 1782 he gave the capital a 43 syllable name ... Ready for it? Krungthepmahanakhornbowornrattanakosinmahintarayutthayamahadilokpopnopparatratchathaniburiromudomratchaniwetmahasathanamornpimanabatarnsathitsakkathattiyavisnukarprasit!!

I'm sure you won't be surprised to know that this name can be found in the Guinness Book of Records! But can be shortened to Krung Threp - phew!! More commonly known as Bangkok!

We reached The Grand Palace on foot and were instantly told that our three quarter length trousers weren't respectful enough and were each duly handed a sarong to wear. This was confusing as there seemed to be plenty of women walking around with dresses/skirts above their knees.

The Grand Palace is absolutely stunning and absolutely enormous!! It was officially opened in 1785 to mark the rebirth of the Thai nation after the invasion of the Burmese.

After being practically stunned into silence by the beauty of the buildings we made our way over to the northeast corner of the Courtyard, where The Wat Phra Kaeo stands. This is the holiest temple in the country and Houses The Emerald Buddha.

We removed our shoes and entered. I cannot begin to describe how beautiful it was decorated in gold and jewels. Then high up on the top of everything sat the Emerald Buddha, this holiest of holies and he was tiny?!

The Guards immediately told us we had to kneel. Something I generally find quite painful to do. Luckily we had studied the etiquette of what and what not to do and one of the "what nots" is to NEVER point your feet towards the Buddha. And so with a huge amount of cracking joints and stretching of ligaments and tendons, with great difficulty whilst wearing a heavy sarong over my clothes, I managed to get down on my bottom and turn my legs under me at a side angle so that no one would find them offensively pointing in the wrong direction. All around us, various Thai people would kneel down, rock back and forth as they say a prayer and then elegantly jump back up to their feet and quietly walk out. As for me, well, it was hard enough getting down onto the floor and even more of a struggle getting back up, without grabbing onto some poor unsuspecting praying Thai for support! But I managed - eventually and feeling proud of myself I turned and hobbled out in quiet agony!

After lunch we grabbed a Tuk-Tuk and were taken on a hair raising journey by 'Sterling Moss' through the streets to go and see the Sao Ching Cha, aka the Giant Swing. This used to be part of a religious ceremony to Honour the Hindu god Shiva on his annual visit to the earth. Whereby young men competing against each other would swing up to 25m and attempt to grab a suspended bag of gold with their teeth! However this was outlawed during the 1930s when, after numerous accidents, it was considered quite dangerous!?

It was time to return to our hotel and we hailed another Tuk-Tuk. This driver not only took us at warp speed but ended up driving down the wrong side of the road against opposing traffic to get us back here!

At the end of the journey and with our stomachs now in our mouths, we climbed out of the Tuk-Tuk, turned to the driver and in true British style, smiled and said "Thank you", then made our way into the lobby in stunned silence.

Dinner consisted of Thai Curry and a beer and for dessert ... A foot massage! Oh I could get used to this life!

Tomorrow evening we meet up with our fellow companions for the next for weeks travelling with Intrepid Travels. There are supposed to be twelve of us, all different ages and different nationalities. So until then I will bid you goodnight ...


  1. ah babe - sounds ideal - smiled all the way and could feel you smiling too - may it continue in this vein for the entire time

    big love

  2. Didn't take you long to get your hands on a Thai penis!!! That must be a record even for you Trollope xx