25th January 2013 Day Two
Woke up and crossed over to Siam center to catch some breakfast. The smell of freshly brewed coffee made us stop in our tracks at Au Bon Pain (a Boston owned bakery that means the ‘place of good bread’). Had some warm latte with a custom made sandwich and their to die for cinnamon rolls, which became a staple for the next few days.
We were planning to catch a taxi from outside siam center to take us to the Grand Palace. However we realized that we had left our wide angle camera lens at the hotel. Since our hotel was just one stop away from Siam BTS (the hotel was at the doorstep of a national stadium BTS), we decided to hop on the sky train, grab the lens, and take a taxi from there. Could’ve walked it too but we wanted to conserve some energy for the sightseeing bit!
We got onto the sky train only to realise that it took us one stop away but in the OPPOSITE direction! Oops! So we got off at Chit Lom. Decided to ditch the lens and get a taxi to the grand palace instead. After 15 minutes of trying to hail one, we looked at each other disappointed. Just then right in front of us stopped a Tuk Tuk. Where to? Grand Palace. 100 THB. No lah, too much. Ok 40 let’s go!
So we climbed into the back of the Tuk Tuk and began our windswept ride towards the Grand Palace or so we thought! Two minutes into the ride, the driver goes Grand Palace very far, I take you so cheap, you first see my friends shop. Errr what? No time! Please Grand Palace. Late already! No! First friend shop. Just see two minutes. No money! Can’t buy! Don’t buy just see! Two minutes!
Damn it! A offered him 50 THB to take us straight or drop us off but no, this one was completely nuts! Every minute he’d say two minutes first friend shop. I was completely freaked out by now. And he kept saying miss be happy! Which freaked me out even more! Is your friend shop on main road? We finally gave in to our fate. Yes main road! He stopped outside a tailoring shop at Rama I road. We saw more Tuk Tuks parked there and a caucasian couple standing outside with dazed faces, another unsuspecting target of the Tuk Tuk scam! We figured these shop owners were paying these drivers commission to harass customers into visiting their shops.
A quick round inside the shop and we came out and told him to proceed to the Grand Palace. We shouldn’t have. After a ten minute ride, he dropped us off in front of a Wat like place. Is this the front entrance I said. Yes! I had been to the Grand Palace 5 years ago and this place didn’t seem half as Grand as I remembered! A gave him an extra 10THB and we scurried out of the ride. Happy to leave the mad man behind, grand palace or no grand palace. When we went inside the boundary of the Wat, it stood confirmed. This was no grand palace, only one of the many Buddha temples in the Land of Buddha temples. Pissed, we exited to the main road and stood in the scorching sun for atleast half an hour to hail a taxi. NO MORE SWINDLING TUK TUKS!
Apparently we were miles away from our destination. No taxi driver wanted to take us that far. No one wanted to cross the river and take us to the other side. Frustrated.
One driver finally did agree. No meter. 150 THB. Please let’s go!
A good 30 minute ride later (imagine how far the Tuk Tuk con had dropped us off) we saw the GRAND Palace, I recognized it immediately and
kicked myself for believing the crook!
Once Inside the main gates we were informed that we had to adhere to the specified dress code or ‘rent’ clothes from the adjoining store. Nice money making tactic, must take note!
As I didn’t have any sleeves on my clothes, we thought it better to buy something from across the road than to borrow something full of germs!
Long story short, we got a few nice photos, burnt ourselves a dark shade of tan and began our kilometer long walk to the adjacent Wat Pho or Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
The reclining Buddha didn’t fail to impress. Even though it was my second visit, it seemed as magnificent if not more. The image of reclining Buddha is 15 m high and 43 m long with his right arm supporting the head. The 3 m high and 4.5 m long foot of Buddha displays are inlaid with mother-of-pearl. They are divided into 108 arranged panels, displaying the auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified like flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers and altar accessories.
The temple is also home to one of the earliest Thai massage schools. If you’re up for an authentic and economical experience, this is the place.
After a photo shoot at the Wat, we took a cab back to the hotel. We had initially planned to drop by Khao San road after the temples, but the afternoon heat got the better of us. Khao San is best visited after sunset when the street artists and musicians take over the otherwise regular back packers street. No regrets.
Later that night we dressed up and headed to Vertigo Lounge, at the Banyan Tree on Sukhumvit road. A birdseye view of the sprawling city, soothing cocktails and a live band gave the perfect ending to the perfect trip.
Long live the king!