Summer in Bangkok: The Grand Palace, Wat Pho and a Tuk-Tuk Ride

You shall not pass.

Our trip to Thailand did not start off smoothly. We went there to celebrate Jonas’ birthday and the birthday boy almost got left behind. We bought his ticket months before, when he was still based in Cebu so his flight was Cebu-Manila-Bangkok. Come February, he was assigned back to Manila. We thought we could still use the same ticket, but they cancelled his flight because he failed to check-in in Cebu. They had to make us wait until there was only 45 minutes left before they allowed us to check-in our baggage. We also had to buy a one-way ticket to Bangkok for Jonas which cost as much as his round trip flight. But we pushed it so it’s all good. The lessons learned: read the fine print and do not book connecting flights. Just book two separate flights instead.

Hurray! Celebratory pose because all of us made it.

I am embarrassed to admit that I am one of those people who expected Thailand to be dirty and chaotic because of The Hangover Part II. But once we arrived at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, I knew I was wrong. I really shouldn’t have judged too early because Bangkok is so much better than Manila infrastructure-wise. Their airport is bigger with better facilities. Their roads are clean, well-maintained and not peppered with potholes. I was jealous and felt a little bad for the Manila. Excluding airfare, our budget for our four-day stay in Thailand was Php15,000. We stayed at Holiday Inn, Silom at a discounted rate thanks to Matt.

Point and shoot.

Our first order of business when we arrived was to eat. We found this cafeteria-type food court near our hotel. The vendors and customers knew little to no English so we didn’t bother asking what kinds of food were available. We just based our orders on what they looked and smelled like, and copied whatever the locals did.

What’s for brunch? These things. I don’t know what they’re called.

Thai food uses a lot of spices and it’s so fragrant. It’s too fragrant that I think I can taste flowers in some of their food. We also tried some of their drinks. One of them was like a very sour raspberry juice then the other was like a combination of some sort of tea with hints of what a smelly sock would taste like. It was weird but I enjoyed it after a few sips and managed to finish the whole glass. We had mango sticky rice for dessert to cap off our cheap but flavorful Thai meal.

Mother’s face says it all.

After brunch, we went to the Grand Palace. When I was researching about the Grand Palace, I read that there was a dress code. No sleeveless and midriff-baring tops. No shorts or miniskirts. And no slippers. But when we got there, there were tourists wearing shorts, flip-flops and sleeveless tops. We went to Thailand during Holy Week which was the height of the summer heat. I regretted wearing jeans that day.

The Grand Palace is not so grand. Sure it was expansive and the designs on the walls, floors and ceilings are intricate when you look at it up close but it still wasn’t impressive. But then again we don’t have any palaces in the Philippines to rival Thailand’s Grand Palace so who am I to not be impressed? Maybe it was the heat or the great number of tourists that took away from the experience. But it’s one of those places you have to visit just to get it out of the way. All I’m saying is, The Grand Palace is not a place you would come back for.

To add to the typical Thailand tourist experience, we rode a tuk-tuk to Wat Pho. I was surprised that tuk-tuks are battery-powered and are actually pretty fast vehicles. They are way, way better than our tricycles.

Matt and the Giant Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho is the temple that houses the giant Reclining Buddha. You won’t really do much there except take a picture with the Reclining Buddha in the background. That is it. I read that there’s a good Thai massage place around Wat Pho but we were over the whole thing. We skipped the dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya river because it was a little expensive, we were tired, and we still had an early start the next day for our Ayutthaya tour.

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