Touristy in Bangkok - Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Despite many pitstops in this busy city, we hadn't seen too much of Bangkok on our short stop-overs. Street vendors that hawk anything imaginable (esp. fresh fruit), blaring car horns, scooters with no mufflers, and unrelenting tuk-tuk drivers soliciting business are a few things that make Bangkok unique. Think about how crazy we are about child seats/safety in America. Check out this kid squeezed between her parents, a very common sight:

The street side vendors have very tasty food (most of the time) and it is only about $.20 for big plate. Also, they sell a miriad of fresh fruits and vegetables. It's pretty cool when you get to know the pineapple vendor outside your guesthouse. It's pretty easy to drop some lbs. while traveling in Thailand, as the food is fresh and for the most part good for you.

As we mentioned before, we were able to catch a movie at a mall which had 7 floors. It's pretty fun to visit the mall because each floor has different item. For instance, floor 5 is the cell phone and electronics area full of individual booths with the proprietors loudly hawking their items. The next floor down is the home furnishings floor also full of individual vendors stacked elbow to elbow selling the same stuff available at the Chatachuk Market, but for about 2x the cost. Thankfully, we visited the market long before we made it to the mall.

Wats, etc..
We hit the most visited tourist site in town first thing in the morning to avoid the big tourist buses and beat the heat. The Grand Palace is the former residential palace of Kings Rama I to Rama IV of Chakri Dynasty between 1782 and late 1800 A.D. and is famous for its stunning architecture. It's surrounded by high white walls and occupies an area of about a square mile.

On the Grand Palace grounds, stands Wat Phra Kaeo, the royal chapel and Temple of the highly revered Emerald Buddha. The temple was made famous by the Emerald Buddha which is carved from a single block of emerald to a sitting posture of the Buddha 30 inches high. Buddhist pilgrams and tourists from all over the world come to visit and to pay homage to the Emerald Buddha. We removed our shoes and went inside the temple for ~ 5 minutes. What a peaceful, spiritual place....No pictures allowed!

Damndensaduak Floating Market
We signed up with a tour company to go visit the floating market. Since we didn't make it to Venice, we thought it would be fun to check out this diverse network of canals, locally known as "Klongs." Until recently, the residents of Bangkok did a great deal of commuting by small boats on the Klongs. Commerce throughout Bangkok was often conducted on boats, and merchants would take their fresh produces by boat each day to the so-called floating markets, where they would meet and conduct trade. We took an hour ride out to one of the markets and got on a boat to check out the floating shops of all kinds: fruits, flowers, culinary tools and food, textiles, spices, and much more. VERY FUN!

The Snake Farm
A trip to the Snake Farm was included in our tour to the floating market. Dave loved this place because he got to touch a real live cobra! The snake handlers start their careers very young and work their way up to be performers when they are not milking the snakes to produce anti-venom. The announcer was like a ring master at the circus describing the thrills and sensations of the snake show with much style. The snake handlers were very brave and showed this while wrestling 3 snakes at once!

Also, they did a show with a mongoose and cobra in a glass box. Did you know that a mongoose is one of the only (maybe the only) animal that can attack and kill a cobra? It's pretty cool. The mongoose didn't kill the cobra at the snake show, just held it down and then the handlers separated the combatants. No harm, no foul!

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