© 2011 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. notworkrelated bangkok 14th-15th 28

Thailand – Bangkok – 14th/15th March

Today was to be our sightseeing day with a half day stint at the Grand Palace. We took the boat again to Tha Chang stop not far from the Palace area and followed some of the Lonely Planet’s walking tour for the area. We followed the first part of the route to the Bangkok’s Fine Art school which is located opposite the front gate of the palace, what a great place to study art and be inspired! Unfortunately there weren’t any exhibitions on so we sat in the courtyard for a while people watching and photographing the area. We crossed over the road to the Palace and as we passed through the gates were told we would both have to queue for longer length clothes to cover arms and legs all the way to our shoes. Helen thought she would need something but Dave’s passed the knee cropped trousers didn’t make the cut either so we both had to queue for half an hour for an assortment of sweaty shirts and skirts that had been worn by other tourists earlier that day. Nice! The annoying thing was that it was so hot, it was difficult wearing simply shorts and a vest let along trousers, a sarong and a shirt!!

Once dressed we continued onto the ticket office and purchased 2 tickets costing 350 Baht each. It is a very impressive sight indeed starting with pagoda’s, temples and shrines that glisten and sparkle in the sun. Vibrant golds, emeralds an ruby’s dominate the area with intricate gold leaf descriptive paintings along walls. You can’t go into the actual Palace or residence but walking around the grounds and visiting museum rooms, enthroning rooms and various formal occasion temples is pleasant enough if you don’t mind queuing with the many tourists who are also there. We watched the changing of the guards and after about 2 hours we decided to move on. It’s on a similar level to the Grand Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in terms of decadence, architectural design and intricate detailing.

There is a market around the corner from the Palace near to the ferry stop which we wandered through and people watched as they bargained for small collectible amulets. We also explored some back alleys where we got a glimpse of old Bangkok, houses on stilts on the river side and children playing in the narrow streets. After the long queue’s and heat of the day we’d had enough of sightseeing already and decided to head back to the hostel for a few hours as we were planning to make tracks on the sky-train later on to check out the night market and get some food.

We got a taxi to take us to the Ratchathewi sky train stop and from there took the sky train to Nana. This is the stop for the Paptong weekend market, perhaps an area that should be described as Bangkok’s red-light district! Although since 2004 Helen has noticed that things have been toned down a little and although there are many ping pong shows available it’s perhaps not thrown in your face as it used to be. We had a little wander through the streets and then got back on the sky-train for one more stop to Asok where we had planned to find a Tapas restaurant recommended in the Lonely Planet. We decided this would be our date night and we would spend over budget for our meal. The Tapas restaurant is located next door to Suk II hostel, a place Helen has stayed at many a time when she has been in Bangkok before. So we had a look around after enjoying a buy 2 get one free deal at the restaurant, it didn’t really soften the final bill but we did enjoy some lovely western food for a change. The main reason we didn’t book to stay at Suk is that they’re prices are now quite high starting at 700 Baht for a double with shared bathroom, we were paying 430 Baht a night at our hostel with our own bathroom.

On our last full day in Bangkok we went off in the direction of Siam, the business and shopping district. We directed our attention onto buying a few items for our camera gear, and purchased a tripod and a small camera bag from the MBK shopping mall. We also bargained for the first series of The Wire as well as experiencing their food hall which is a must-do if you’re having a long day shopping in Bangkok!

We had a few galleries earmarked on the map that we were intending to visit, the main problem being that we couldn’t find 2 of them, one was in between exhibitions and one was housing a small photographic exhibition. So Wooden Postcards at the La Lanta Fine Art Gallery was the only one that was open.

After this slightly disappointing search for off-the wall Fine Art we promptly found a taxi and decided to head back. Our taxi driver had only been driving for 2 weeks in Bangkok and didn’t know where we were heading to, but he was determined to get us there so we gave him a chance, he made a few calls and got on the right tracks. It started raining heavily too so we were happy to be out of the down pour. We couldn’t get dropped off at our hostel as their was a problem with a demonstration taking up the top end of the Phitsanulok Rd. We thought we would walk right through it on our way back and were amazed by the amount of demonstrators there were, it seemed to be a peaceful demonstration taking place outside government buildings and the UN building. We managed to pick up on something to do with the release of Thai Nationals, but we couldn’t get this confirmed. As soon as we stepped out from under cover the rain came down hard and we were drenched by the time we’d walked 100m back to the hostel. The rain halted our plans that night so we stayed at the hostel and caught up on the blog.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0 & Olympus PEN, 100mm f2.8, processed in Lightroom 3)

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