Day 7 - Bangkok, Thailand
Saturday, March 31, 2012: After breakfast in the Premier Lounge, ...
... we took the Skytrain to the Saphan Taksin station again, but this time we took the exit that leads to Central Pier.
|Here we boarded the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat. For a single ticket, tourists can visit the most popular tourist locations along the river.
|Each boat makes one full circuit per hour, ...
|... and guides narrate the trip, describing the sites available at each pier. On this day, the guide noted that the Grand Palace would be closing at noon due to a royal funeral, but also that on this day, the tourist boat would also be stopping at the Tha Chang Pier, which is closer to the Grand Palace than the Tha Tian Pier, the normal stop for the Grand Palace.
|Here is the Chao Phraya River in all its mighty glory.
|This is the Peninsula Hotel.
|Here are some pretty buildings, ...
|... and some more, ...
|... and still more.
|This is Wichai Prasit Fort, ...
|... and this is the Royal Thai Navy Headquarters.
|We passed Wat Arun on our left as we went past it. We'd be back the next day.
|We disembarked at Tha Chang Pier and made our way through the small market to the main street. It was now clear why the tourist boat dropped us off here instead of Tha Tian, which is farther away. The Royal Guard was practicing for the services of the royal cremation of Her Royal Highness Princess Bejaratana.
|In typical Bundlings fashion, we were lucky enough to arrive on a day where the boat drop off was more convenient, plus we got to witness all of this.
|We paid for our tickets and entered the Grand Palace complex. Our first order of business was getting a photo of Orchy. Can you spot him in near the bottom of this photo?
|This area is called the Upper Terrace.
|Here are some cute elephant statues with coins laid on their heads and trunks.
|Everything is very detailed and ornate.
|This is just one of many identical sculptures. The Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha is visible in the background.
|These golden towers were supported ...
|... by a series of small figures along the base.
|Debbie is compelled to photograph all water gardens featuring waterlilies.
|What's this? A model of Angkor Wat? OK, we'll photograph it, but we'd be seeing the real thing in Cambodia a few days later.
|More ornate buildings, ...
|... with very beautiful detail.
|It was nearly 100 degrees again, so any shade was a welcome respite, and the Galleries on the grounds provided.
|In fact, despite the signs stating "Don't Sit Down This Area," they were a popular resting place.
|Another water garden with waterlilies -- sorry.
|Here's a classic Engrish shirt. The text reads: "Hold fast dreams. Ford dreams die. Life is broken-wingde bird. That connot fly." Deep stuff. Deep, misspelled stuff.
|The grounds featured numerous well-tended gardens.
|But not so beautiful as this magical device, tucked off in a corner and dispensing refreshing cold water. We drank all we could then refilled our water bottles.
|We took off our shoes and went into the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha. Photos aren't allowed, so we glanced up at the tiny figure and then went right back out. Yeah, it was there. It was green. We saw it.
|This building is the Chakri Maha Prasat, built by King Chulalongkorn (the son in "The King and I" for those of us whose entire knowledge of Thai history is based on that film).
|Tents and chairs were set up in front of it for the funeral services later that day.
|This is the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall.
|Tucked around back were some guards on duty for the funeral and this pretty garden. We didn't linger.
|Instead, we stopped at a snack shop near the exit, where we had some Haagen-Dasz ice cream, water, and Gatorade, desperately trying to rehydrate ourselves. Attempts to leave through the exit here were thwarted, because that exit led to the shut-down street, ...
|... so we retraced our steps and left the way we came in, ...
|... back through the marketplace, ...
|... and back onto the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat.
|The sights along the river range from impressive skyscrapers, ...
|... to humble fishing piers, ...
|... and back again. This is the State Tower that we had seen up close the day before.
|We returned to Central Pier and rode the Skytrain back to our hotel.
|After a shower, we headed downstairs to the lobby cafe, La Brioche, where we had paninis and fries and all the Coca Cola Light we could drink. Ketchup was served in tiny glasses with tiny spoons and saucers. Fancy!
|With no afternoon plans but to cool down and rest up, Bangkok weather realized that it would now be fine to rain, so it did. We enjoyed watching the lightning from our 17th floor room, ...
|... and what would have been sunset if the sun was able to punch all the way through the clouds.
|Things were hopping across the way at the Siam Paragon Mall. A small performance stage was set up several nights during our stay, and we could see it just over the BTS station.
|While we were in the Premier Lounge having some dinner, ...
|... the rain picked up and the hosts of Trendy Town had gotten out their umbrellas.
|Soon, it was our turn to venture out into the weather. Fortunately, our entire walk to the BTS station was under cover, as was the BTS station itself. When we arrived at our destination, the Rachathewn BTS Station, we learned that the entrance to the Asia Hotel was attached to the station so we were under cover the entire time. There's the Bundlings weather luck at work once again.
|Debbie had booked tickets for the show at the Calypso Cabaret several months in advance, so our tickets were front row center.
|Debbie was thrilled about this; Tom, not so much.
|After an introduction from the Master of Ceremonies, we enjoyed the first number, sung by a beautiful woman. Or is it?
|Here's an Italian song. The performer had clear blue contact lenses that looked terrifyingly into your very soul.
|This is the classic ladyboy stuff -- a whole stage of gorgeous girls with everything very carefully tucked away.
|This Chinese ballad featured an innocent bride taking revenge on her philandering man.
|A tribute to Carmen Miranda at a drag show? Who saw that coming? It was hilarious.
|The best song of the evening was "Nobody" by the Wonder Girls. The ladyboys nailed it from the wigs and dresses to the perfectly imitated dance moves. Watch the original performance on YouTube here.
|This performance was a train wreck and one long wardrobe malfunction. We were all glad when the shrieking and running around on stage ended and the star finally pulled up her bustier.
|This was a very cool performance -- girls on the shoulders of boys dancing on poles. This performance featured the only visible proof that the girls were actually boys, brief though it was.
|One of the dancers was clearly a man trying not so convincingly to be a woman. Much hilarity ensued, especially when s/he start planting kisses on a guy in the front row.
|This was a Korean dance performed to the folk song, "Arirang."
|This was a beautiful performance of the Japanese song, "Like the Flow of the River."
|The big finale brought out all of the boys and girls for one last musical number. It was all great fun.
At the end of the show, all of the ladies lined up to pose for photos with the guests. Debbie coerced Tom into posing with her favorite, the lovely lady with the braces on the right.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy