Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spring Break 2011 - Thailand: Bangkok

There comes a time in every trip to Thailand where you have to experience the necessary evil of visiting the capital city of Bangkok. Known as "Krung Thep" to the locals, Bangkok has a metro population of about 12 million and is everything you could wish for in a busy, crowded, polluted, yet interesting city. The name means "city of angels", which basically makes it Thailand's equivalent to Los Angeles. Bangkok became the capital of Thailand in 1768 after the Burmese destroyed Ayutthaya (see previous blog post). We spent about two days here altogether, which was plenty of time to see the Grand Palace, Wat Pho with the famous "reclining Buddha", and the bustling Chatuchak Market.

Marisa protecting herself from the sun, since pale skin is IN here.

Buck and I had to cover our legs with these less-offensive MC Hammer pants during our visit to the Grand Palace.

Part of a mural surrounding the Grand Palace depicting ancient Thai history. This looked like the infamous Halloween Battle of 1126, but I'm not sure.

Nice to see that the folks at the Grand Palace still use velociraptors for protection of their valuables.

Marisa shows textbook squat form here, just like the jeweled characters behind her.

Grand Palace

Grand Palace

Grand Palace

Grand Palace

One of Bangkok's finest holding it down outside the palace.

The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho - he was a big mo fo

Longways shot of the Reclining Buddha - somewhere around 40 meters long.

Wat Pho

One of my personal highlights in Bangkok was having a couple of suits and fitted shirts made. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of tailors all over Thailand that make suits and dresses on the spot. It's a huge industry that serves businessmen the world over, the casual wedding goer, brides-to-be, and the occasional physics teacher. Before coming to Bangkok, Buck recommended a place that he'd used before and worked out a deal for me so that I could get fitted for suits in a day and pick them up within a week. The whole process was really easy: pick the material for suits and shirts, have measurements taken, come back 6 hours later for final fitting, and pick up finished product one week later. These people work fast and were able to finish an entire shirt, pants, and most of a jacket within 6 hours. The best part had to be the price though...............two suits (Italian wool), four fitted shirts, two ties...........about $500. Beat that Men's Wearhouse!

I recommend the navy with subtle pin stripe for evening functions and power lunches.

The light brown is perfect for summer weddings and first impressions.

We were told beforehand to only spend one day in Bangkok and that advice turned out to be sound. One should see the Grand Palace, maybe a temple or two, and experience the Chatuchak Market and move on to greener pastures. Taking our own advice, after Bangkok we headed down south to the Krabi province for some time on the beach. Before that..............more pics.

Street food. Not that this was everywhere, but this is a nice display of fried crickets, roaches, and baby birds. Yes, baby birds (front left). Holy crap where's PETA?

Buck found Jack Sparrow at the Chatuchak Market. This guy was a little too good.

Dinner at "Cabbages and Condoms" - a birth control themed restaurant that began with the owners desire to see more protected sex in Thailand. Instead of after dinner mints you get........well, I think you get the idea. This was the Tiger Woods memorial at the front of the restaurant.

Group shot at Cabbages and Condoms

You'd never guess who we ran into at the mall!!

The only time my stomach was tore up was after a greasy American-style pizza by "Pizza Company". Thirty minutes later I had to bolt from our taxi and make my way to a gas station with one of these bad boys. Don't adjust your screens...........the toilet IS that close to the ground. Let's just say it's not for sitting, it's necessary to remove all clothing from the waist down, there is typically no toilet paper provided, and the one I used did not have that fancy garden hose mounted off to the side. Most don't come equipped with a flusher either - you're supposed to use water from a bucket to wash everything down. It was quite an experience.

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