Friday, August 5, 2011

Thailand: First Day in Bangkok - Down the Khlongs

I really have no idea which Khlongs we went down, I think it was
Bangkok Noi

People may say that Bangkok is not a beautiful city but I feel that it has it's own aesthetic and idiosyncratic charm. I loved it! I would love go back and anyone who knows me will tell you I'm a real fussy-pants. Sure there is the traffic but there is a calm patience to it - in sharp contrast to the heated, grinding, cursing bumper-to-bumper in Johannesburg. It's clean, it doesn't smell bad ( we visited in hot, steaming June) and you know what  . . . I say it's beautiful. The paradox of Bangkok is exemplified in the exquisite temples and the glittering malls, religious devotion and ping pong shows , through all this it maintains it's cultural heritage. Okay, on with it . . .

After freshening up we went for our first tour (14h00 Bangkok time). The so-called "Rice Barge tour" on Bangkok's famous Chao Phraya River. I was so damn excited! We were going to travel on a longtail boat through the various khlongs and then return on a Rice Barge munching exotic snackies and drinking cocktails.

Rivers and canals are referred to maenam and khlong in Thai . When the capital of Thailand was moved to Bangkok in 1782 (the beginning of the Rattanakosin period), the capital was laced with canals, so Bangkok was sometimes called the "VENICE OF THE EAST" by European visitors.  The river is over a flat alluvial plain and sprawling around it is Bangkok. Bangkok lacks a "CBD" the way JHB has a CBD - there is no single central area. The river divides the city into Bangkok proper on the east bank and Thonburi on the west bank.If you are familiar with Terry Prachett then you would have heard of Ankh-Morpork and it's river. I'm not sure if that was a reference to the Thames but the Chao Phraya River could be its inspiration. It did have a "smell" which I wouldn't call bad , "exotic" to describe it sounds to good and "foreign" sounds down right offensive. It was strange and different but not bad - I didn't give a hoot because I was too damn excited to be in Thailand.

Two great rivers of the North , the Ping and the Nan join in the Central plains of Thailand to form the Chao Phraya (river of kings)

It was quite a task to get on the boat and to be honest it didn't really look that stable. Once I got on it felt more stable so if you ever have to get on one of these - don't be scared. It was a great experience and I highly recommend it! Click on the pics to enlarge .

Click to enlarge

A long-tail boat - I think we went down the Bangkok Noi canal

This is a Rice Barge

A Rice Barge

The Hubby with these cute characters at The River City Mall
(Snazzy Place)

oooo-la-la curios

Me with cute character

So Snazzy

It was so hot outside, an extreme moist heat. The hubby in search of

Found some at this cute cafe
There's one on every corner

In the longtail boat , on our way

Some random Australians that we bizarrely kept bumping into around Bangkok

A Chinese temple

A Chinese temple

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo

Wat Arun - the Temple of the Dawn

Entering the khlong

How amazing are the roots of this tree. On the
opposite side there was a River Monitor- a
Komodo Dragon-esque type creature

Houses on the River

A Spirit House

A mansion - this is just a small part of it. It's huge!

Part of the mansion's garden

They love pot plants in Bangkok

Lovely home - one of the Khlongs

My Parents

Place where the Guide bought some bread so we could feed the catfish

The Catfish stirring

You can't see in the picture but these catfish are huge. They are considered "off-limits" as they swim
around the temples. It is taboo to kill and catch them

The Hubby got totally splashed by the catfish

The Rice Barge

A Mai Tai

The Snacks and to my delight mangosteens and rambutins

Peanut Crackle, Coconut, Mangosteen, Pineapple, Rambutin and
I have no idea what the thing is in the green leaf cup but it was yummy

On the way back

oops non- rotated pic. In the background is the hospital that the king
has been staying for the past year. He is very ill.

Many 5 star hotels on the river bank

Back in the mall

Snazzy mall bathroom

Love these things!

Spirit House

Family on bike. Click on the pic to enlarge

The election happened on the 3/07/11. no more military rule. The Red Shirts won - more on that later

Bangkok traffic on the way back to the hotel

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