Asia 2012:
Day 6 - Bangkok, Thailand


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Asia 2012: [Day 1 - Hong Kong] [Day 2 - Hong Kong] [Day 3 - Hong Kong] [Day 4 - Hong Kong] [Day 5 - Thailand] [Day 6 - Thailand] [Day 7 - Thailand] [Day 8 - Thailand] [Day 9 - Cambodia] [Day 10 - Cambodia] [Day 11 - Singapore] [Day 12 - Singapore] [Day 13 - Singapore] [Day 14 - Indonesia] [Day 15 - Japan]

Friday, March 30, 2012: Breakfast in the Premier Lounge did not disappoint. With sushi, ham, jackfruit, dragonfruit, stirfry, rice, muesli, and donuts, it was a very tasty way to start the day.

We had studied the traffic patterns of the Siam BTS station from our room the night before, ...
... so we understood the etiquette of standing in line behind the marked squares to wait for the Skytrain.
It took about 20 minutes to make the journey from Siam station to Saphan Taksin station, and every moment of it was air-conditioned. The Skytrain system was very affordable and easy to use and we highly recommend it.
We arrived at Saphan Taskin station over a half hour early for our 9:45 tour departure time, so we sat on the bench and watched the scenery for a little while.
We made our way to Exit 3 and waited.
Street vendors were setting up food stalls just below us, but we were here to join Bangkok Food Tour's Historic Bangrak Food Tasting & Culture Tour, and we had three hours of eating in front of us.
Right on time, our guide, Nucci, arrived, and shortly after that, our fellow tour participant, Patty, arrived. Nucci gave us all radios and earphones so we could hear her on the busy streets of Bangkok.
A couple of blocks away, we had our first stop at this restaurant, Charoen Wieng Pochana, just off the main road on a side street.
Nucci told us a little about it just before we went in.
It was a small, open-air restaurant.
We were served bottled water with delicious Kao-Nha-Ped, which is traditional roasted duck served on rice. It was garnished with pickled cucumber and ginger slices.
A few shops down, Debbie spotted this portrait of what appear to be the Thai equivalent of the Jonas Brothers just outside a beauty shop.
Nucci pointed out a food stand across the street with a significant line of people, noting that the food there is well-known for being great, so people are willing to stand in line.
The walking tour includes some cultural stops as well, so we visited this temple and school for a few minutes.
Here's Nucci telling us about the gold sculpture.
We all rang the bell three times. Here's Patty up to bat.
Our next stop was a place called, simply enough, Muslim Restaurant.
The glass case next to the street showed off today's options.
We sampled Curry Lava on Egg, a hard-boiled egg in a tasty curry sauce, with cucumber slices and iced green tea.
This former monks' quarters houses Thai Home Industries. We looked in the windows but did not stop to browse.
We made a brief stop to admire the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where some are set up in the Somerset Maughm suite. But not us, because as much as we love the lyrics to "One Night in Bangkok," the outrageous price tag just wasn't worth it.
This display just outside the hotel gave Nucci an opportunity to explain why everything from boats to motorcycles to trees were often draped in fabric.
Our next destination was across the river, so we headed to the Oriental Pier.
We made a brief unscheduled stop to sample some street food here -- delicious fried bananas, covered with some sort of crispy sesame seed coating.
We boarded the Oriental Pier ferry, ...
... and disembarked a few minutes later on the other side of the river. It was our first good look of the mighty Chao Phraya river, where we'd spend a lot of time the next couple of days.
A very short walk brought us to Yum Rod Sab restaurant.
Like the others, it was open-air with fans blowing to cool us off. We sampled three dishes here:
a mystery pork dish, ...
... papaya salad (Som Tam), ...
... and Yum Pla Dook Foo, which is crispy catfish topped with peanuts and garnished with green mango salad. It was all very delicious and we washed it all down with bottles of ice-cold Pepsi.
Heading back to the boat, we passed this sleepy kitty on the way, ...
... and met this friendly squirrel at the pier.
Here's the pier, ...
... and here we are, sweating profusely but absolutely loving the tour.
Back in the Bangrak district, we visited Assumption Cathedral briefly.
It was really, really hot out. 39 degrees Celsius = 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
That made our next stop even more awesome -- the air-conditioned PanLee Bakery.
Oh, sweet air-conditioning!
But we were here for the food, and with good reason. We were served (from left to right) a green custard bun, a BBQ pork bun, and some delicious Thai iced tea.
Here's the BBQ pork bun on the left, and the green custard bun on the right. These were so incredibly tasty. Patty was smart enough to buy a bag of custard buns to bring on her flight to Korea that evening, but we were not. If you are ever in Bangkok, dear reader, find this bakery and go there. Do it for us.
The bakery is located very near the State Tower, which contains the Lebua Hotel, Sirocco Restaurant and Skybar, featured in the movie, "Hangover II."
Here's a statue of a dude.
Here's the view of the State Tower. It is a gigantic building.
Here is the entrance to Minus 5, another ice bar. Sorry, we only visit Absolut Ice Bars. We saw another one of these in New Zealand in 2006 but didn't go in then either.
Our final restaurant was Kallaprapruek, ...
... a restaurant owned by a member of the royal family, one of several throughout Bangkok. The place was packed but they found us a table immediately.
We sampled Thai chicken curry served with roti, with glasses of ice water, ...
... then finished with Thai-style coconut ice cream, which was really more like a coconut sorbet with coconut slices. It was all very good, plus the air-conditioning was very welcome.
Nucci walked us to the Surasak BTS station, one stop down from Saphan Taksin where we had started over three hours earlier. We waved goodbye to Patty from across the tracks. We highly recommend this tour because it was the perfect introduction to Bangkok and Thailand.
Fourteen minutes later, we were disembarking the train at Siam station, where this giant billboard for KFC featured a Corn Lover's ice cream sundae.
After a welcome cold shower and a well-deserved afternoon rest, we ventured out again, this time to the Siam Paragon Mall a block from our hotel, just on the other side of the Siam BTS station. We wandered all around the mall, ...
... then ended up on the movie theater floor, where this Titanic display lured couple after couple to pose for a dramatic "I'm flying, Jack!" scene.
We resisted, because it was right next to a crepe stand.
Debbie had a banana-caramel crepe, while Tom opted for chocolate. There were multiple 3D, 4D, and IMAX options for movie-going, but we decided against it.
The food court was located on the bottom floor, where we got this great shot of one of several McDonald's outlets. Check out those Thai characters rendered in the classic McDonald's font!
Ronald McDonald gives the traditional Thai gesture for "Thank you." Somehow, when Hollywood stars do it, it is annoying, but when it is Thai Ronald doing it, it is charming.
We made our way to Siam Ocean World, an aquarium on the lower levels.
These tiny guys popped in and out of their sandy homes.
These are giant clams.
Tom's hand gives some perspective to the size of these giant crabs.
"Chicks dig seahorses." - Tom Bundy. Chicks also dig fish that float vertically.
These were some big dudes.
Lionfish are always fascinating, even if they do have a reputation for being mean.
This was a two-story aquarium photographed from the upper level, with a little tot on the lower level.
This huge gentleman was one of the very large fish making his way around the aquarium.
As part of the ticket package we purchased, we got a glass bottom boat ride over the main aquarium, so we patiently waited our turn.
When it was our turn, we enjoyed looking straight down to see various rays, ...
... small sharks, ...
... and big sharks.
As we made the circle over the aquarium, we could see folks on the behind-the-scenes tour. Our package included tickets for that, too, but we opted not to do it. It looked interesting though.
We had way more fish to see, like these small but beautiful fish.
Here are some stonefish. Tom saw one similar to these when scuba diving off Bora Bora a year earlier.
These orbicular batfish are bigger than a tot's head.
Here's Debbie's favorite fish, the white-banded triggerfish, first encountered in Tahiti in 2011.
We've never seen a nautilus up close. These are prehistoric-looking, huge beasts.
We never did figure out what lizards were doing in an aquarium, but this guy sure was handsome.
Debbie: "I never knew that piranha were shiny." Tom: "Yes, they lure you in with their bling."
Our tickets included a box of popcorn and a fountain drink, so we opted for two different flavors of Mirinda, a Pepsi-brand fruit soft drink. The orange tasted like orange, but the green tasted like liquid Swedish fish.
Penguins! We love penguins.
The very best part of our ticket was that it included a fish foot massage for a fraction of what we were planning to pay for the very same experience in Singapore.
We put our shoes and socks in a bin, had our feet washed by an aide, then got into one of four small hot tub-like pools.
Then the tiny fish descended on our feet.
It was a little ticklish and a little unnerving and a lot of fun.
But better to have tiny fish nibbling on us than these big boys who were circling in the aquarium nearby. When our time was up, the attendants toweled off our feet and we were on our way.
Next, we toured the aquarium from the vantage point of the acrylic tube.
These sharks were little friends having a bit of a nap on the top of the tube.
This was a cool display of tiny colorful jellyfish.
After going through all of the displays, we had a little fun in the kids' area with some electronic displays.
After we passed this little tuk-tuk aquarium, we picked up some free gifts in the gift shop as part of our ticket package.
Next, we headed to the food court again, this time visiting a different McDonald's where all we did was photograph the menu options instead of trying them. This menu shows the usual burger, cheeseburger, and Big Mac options, but also a very intriguingly-named Samurai Pork Burger. That would have been fun to try.
This is the McDonald's Ham & Egg Pie. Looks tasty!
But with Pineapple Pie and Corn Pie as alternatives, who can possibly select just one?

We weren't in the mood for McDonald's or the crowds in the food court, so we went back to the hotel. Here is the stairwell heading back from the BTS station to the street level. The Novotel is on the other end of the block to the left.

Day 7 >


Asia 2012: [Day 1 - Hong Kong] [Day 2 - Hong Kong] [Day 3 - Hong Kong] [Day 4 - Hong Kong] [Day 5 - Thailand] [Day 6 - Thailand] [Day 7 - Thailand] [Day 8 - Thailand] [Day 9 - Cambodia] [Day 10 - Cambodia] [Day 11 - Singapore] [Day 12 - Singapore] [Day 13 - Singapore] [Day 14 - Indonesia] [Day 15 - Japan]

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