I arrived at the appointed hour, after a smooth flight with Thai Air, nice food, I had the green chicken curry. The plane was only half full so I had a double window seat and could stretch out. At Bangkok airport because of the late hour no customers at immigration and actually made it to the baggage collection long before the carousel had started turning. My private pick up, Noe (arranged by Nina, Linda’s niece) was waiting and whisked me off into town. During the Journey I thought this is taking a long time, but because the last time I was here was for a 2 night stop 15 years ago and they have built a new airport at Suvarnabhumi it is a long way out of town. But Noe who picked me up was a good (and fast) driver; I was actually at their apartment before midnight. I had been on the go since 10:00 and was shattered so it was straight to bed for me.
Leaving the gated compound I got to the end of the street and was at once embroiled in the crowds of demonstrators, I had chosen an opportune or inopportune time to arrive in Bangkok as the opposition were trying to shut Bangkok down, I shall not go into the politics as that is their business, but it is a strange thing to be shouting about democracy and then trying to stop the forth coming elections.But that is their problem and I, a non-Thai decided to wander amongst the crowds of demonstrators. Got to the Sky Train Terminal without any problem and got my ticket from the machine 31Baht a very economical means of transport, clean quick and not a piece of graffiti in sight. I got off at Siam, this is called a square, but it is in fact a intersection of a lot of roads, I went through the automatic barriers (I have a horror of these things) and walked across the bridge that connects the overhead station to a large shopping mall and looked down.
Then through a set of barriers that signalled the end of the demonstration area and almost immediately was at my first Wat.
Wats are Buddhist temples and most if not all have monasteries with their saffron robed monks attached. This was not a large one as Wats go but as it was my first one of the day I decided to pop in and have a looky-looky. I had arrived at midday and prayers and meditation were in full sway.
Behind a golden Buddha in an inner sanctum were a group of white robed female, I can only think, Nuns, reciting a rhythmic chant, it was not at all unpleasant on the ears, so I stopped and listened in the cool courtyard for a while. I took a few photo’s , but didn’t enter as I am a great respecter of other folks religion’s, I just pried from behind a fat golden effigy.
but I didn’t cross the street to visit it. Below was an area that seemed to be inhabited by fish driers, as here and there were grids of split fish lying on upturned boxes drying in the sun.
I had already passed some very decorative wrought iron bridges that crossed the canal, but ahead I saw a road bridge.
I crossed and looked down, noticing a movement, on the bamboo barrages meant to catch the canal flotsam and jetsam. There sitting on top was a large monitor lizard, it was all of 1.5 mtrs head to tail. It sat licking its lips until it got bored and slithered into the canal over flow sewers.
The cleaners with their dusters on long bamboo poles, were not at all perturbed at a “Falang” wandering about. I saw a window open and inside was a couple of men, doing nothing in particular (so most likely civil servants) I enquired if this was the main Railway Station (by this time I had realised it was not). The polite reply came “no sir, this is the headquarters of the state railways, you must go out of the main gate turn left and walk about 800 mtrs and you will find it”.
So that is what I did, returned from whence I came and found the main railway station –Hua Lamphong.
It was very tasty and just what the doctor ordered after a good coupleof hours walking the dusty streets of Bangkok.
But ahead I could see a golden glittering Wat and there I was right outside of the temple.
You should know the ritual by now, you take your shoes and head gear off (yes even my old friend had to be removed). Here at the top of the steps was a rather stern lady that made sure you did. I went inside and there it was a massive chunk of gold, I though good job there were no scousers around, or that would be missing tomorrow morning. I took some photo’s and had my photo taken (well the opportunity arose to show of my T-shirt).
I then wandered back to the main Railway Station via a different route this took me through the dried fish bladder, sharks fin and birds nest quarter, all very interesting. I watched as a young using dental picks, carefully removed the last of the bird poo from the nests.
This took me past all of the street food Hawkers, each one smelling better than the next, I couldn’t resist the stuffed squid on the BBQ, I bought one and ate it with gusto as I walked the last couple of hundred meters back to Nina and Johns a sort of entrée I suppose.
The evening meal was delicious, it was two types of curry a chicken and a beef, I was unable to enquire further about it as the cook had already left and all Nina had to do was heat it up and make the rice.