"December 1989" Bangkok Travelogue by DEBBBEDB
Bangkok Travel Guide: 10,771 reviews and 24,364 photos
Much less English was spoken in Bangkok, and those that spoke English, we were not sure that they understood what we said. The bowing and smiling never ceased.
Our flight was on Cathy Airlines. We arrived right at rush hour and it took us two hours to get to our hotel for a trip that was normally half an hour. There are a lot of motorycles and taxis and 'tuk-tuks' buzzing around the streets in addition to cars and buses. The young girls who were passengers on the motorcycles sat side saddle with their feet about six inches from the street. The tuk-tuks were three wheeled vehicles with a driver in the front and room for two people in the back.
We had good service at all of our hotels. In Bangkok, our hotel was the Royal Orchid Sheraton. It was on the large river that runs through Bangkok. The river is as busy as the roads from early in the morning until midnight. There are long skinny boats with huge motors and a long pole with a propeller on the end of it to steer. They are called "long-tails". Also barges ferries, excursion boats and launches. All of these are like water taxis and one can travel all up and down the river.
The money unit here is the Baht. At this time the exchange rate was 25 baht - 1 US dollar.
The hotel service was excellent We could not drink the spigot water so the hotel brought about a liter of water each morning when they made up our rooms. If we needed more all we had to do as call and it was there within five minue. My mom brought six liters of water at the grocery store which lasted her and her companion for three days
As we entered the hotel about three people came to help us. There was one in a white uniform white gloves and a white English officer's pith helmet. He opened the taxi door for us. There were uniformed bell hops to take our bags. There was a young man to open the doors. He was dressed in a white coat with brass buttons and a drak red long skirt which was pulled up between his legs and fastened to his waist at the back. There was also someone to bow to you as you entered. In the evenings as you went to the elevator in the lobby, a young lady in a long dress would punch the button for you. They also punched the inside button for your floor. Every time we went through the lobby they bowed at us and smiled.
We did not eat any salads and ate only in the hotel. They had a very nice breakfat bufet, and also a dinner bufet. For Christmas they had two turkeys and the chef made chestnut dressing, and they also had mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce which was served hot. Also the giblet gravy was filled with little chopped bits of giblets.
I saw only one other couple from America there, but there were a lot of Australians and some Europeans. None of them seemed to know what a turkey was. One Scandinavian person asked what it was, and we said that it was like a chicken with light and dark meat. I wonder where they got the turkeys from.
We had an American Express tour the next day to show us all around the city (it was icluded inour package). We told her what we wanted to see and she arranged other tours for us at reaonable prices. She herself took us to the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This was the most fabulous place!! We walked into this huge area that was filled with large buildings and small structures all made of gold and colored glass mosaics. There wer fierce demons guarding the entrance. There were Fu Dogs, Garudas (a Hindu god - king of the birds), serpants, elephants and monkeys. There were little troughs like braziers all around one of the shrines and they had been covered with small pieces of gold leaf about the stize of postage stampe which had been placed there by worshipers.
The Fu Dogs are in pairs. The female usually has a pup, and the mail has an open mouth with a ball in it. If you are having bad luck, you roll the ball in his mouth to change it, but if you are having good luck, you do not touch it.
The spires of the temples were all different shapes and construction. Some were gold and smooth and some were intricately carved. At the Temple of the Emerald Buddha we took off our shoes (they had shelves outside for the shoes) and walked into the temple. Some people were sitting on the floor praying. The Emerald Buddha is a piece of jade about two feet high. According to the legend, the Emerald Buddha was created in India in 43 BC. After some adventures, it was found in 1434 AD in Northern Thailand covered with stucco. Now, it sits on a very high platform. There are several Buddha images supporting the Emerald Buddha. It seems each newly crowned king added budha images to the platform. The walls are decorated with scenes from the life of Buddha
In Thailand one has to be very careful not to poit a toe or foot at someone else. The Thais believe that this is an insult.
The monks walk around wrapped in bright orange robes. They are not allowed to touch women an a woman cannot give them anything So when our tour guide asked a monk to pose for us, he agreed and afterwar she gave him an offering. She gave it to another man and he gave it to ther monk. A touris woman walked over to him to hand him some coing an our guide stopped her. The monk pulled open his bag that he had on his side real wide and she dropped it in.
The outside of the Temple was made of 1 inch square peices of mirroed glass - reds, blues, yellows and greens cemented to the building.
We did not have enough time for a tour of the Grand Palace, which is used only for special occasions. The king lives in another palace in another section of the city. He has many acres of land an a farm growing fruits and vegetables plus aparentment for the workers. The whole thing is surrounded by a moat with guards all around it.
They use elephants to do heavy work on the farms.
Our guide arranged for a tour on the river. She hired us a boat and the four of us had our own private tour with her and the boatman. We went own the river which had lots of water hycinths floating in it. Lots of boars.
The long tails, we called "hot rods" becuas e they went speeding by filled with Jpanese. They were going too fast to appreciate the sights. We left the river and went through the canals. The people live in houses that decks on poles right in the water. We saw mony people washing their clothes and taking baths in the river.
We floated into a floating market. Small boats came out to great us selling hats, soft drinks and fruits. My mother bought a hat and then had to carry it carefully all the way home.
We floated on and went to a market place and a snake farm where we shopped some more.
We had an elephant ride here. Then we got back in the boat and continued our trip down the canal and back in the river.
Finally we landed and took a van to the wood carving facotry. There were young people sitting on the floor in the most uncomfortable looking positions carving wall plaques chairs and figurines. It looked very tedious.
On another tour we were taken to a culture center. It was called the Rose Garden and was a long way out into the country. We had a van to ourselves again. We saw a show consisting of Thai dancing and wrestling, a cock fight, a Thai wedding ceremony and a fingernail dance. The girls had long fingernails on and fluttered them all around. It was very pretty. We had another elephant ride.
A jeweler I knew sent a car for us and we did some more shopping there.
We left Bangkok at the ungodly hour of seven a.m which meant that we had to leave the hotel at 0430 to be on time. All international flights you have to check in at least two hours in advance. we were on Northwest Air to Tokyo about 5.5 hours. There my mother and her friend had to get off the plane and wait in the airport for 2 hours and then get back on the same plane for the 12 hour flight to San Franciso.
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