Day Trip: Bangkok

13 Oct

We had to get up early this day so that we could be at the Internal Booking Office by 7:30am. This required getting a car to the train station, a train to the city and then a tuk tuk to the office. There we waited for a short while before getting picked up by a minibus and then taken to another minibus to be driven out of the city for a while and stop at a petrol station. Complicated? Yes.

Here we separated. Lairey and I went on one bus and Keb went on the other. Lairey and I then headed off towards the Floating Markets.

Now, I can’t actually remember what the name of these floating markets were, but they were immense fun. First, we had to get onto a long-tail boat to get to the markets. Lairey and I thought we were going to capsize because the weight was unevenly distributed and we were leaning to our right quite obviously. Luckily, we didn’t fall in and drown, rather, we arrived safe and sound at the markets.

We were then told that we could get in a paddle boat for half an hour, which would take us up and down the markets and then we could get off and wander around for another half hour. Lairey and I thought it was a good opportunity so we hopped on.

This was where we discovered that you shouldn’t point at anything because apparently that means you want to buy it. Also, we discovered that we are terrible at this whole bartering system. People actually laugh at us because we are so bad. There was also the fact that the people with their wares on their boats could actually hook you in so that you were, in a way, forced to look at their stuff. It was really a very interesting experience. We also bought some mango, but had a money situation where we were still fishing around for the right notes to hand over but were floating away. We think our paddle boat driver passed it on for us later, but we were never sure.

Well, Lairey bought a few things and I bought a few little elephant keyrings. A successful trip, we thought. Then we got on the minibus and headed to the Bridge over the River Kwai. I think between here and the River Kwai we briefly stopped at an elephant place where you could ride an elephant, but Lairey and I skipped this opportunity, as we knew we would try to go elephant riding up in Chiang Mai. We also stopped to have lunch, thankfully.

When we got to the River Kwai, we were told we could go through the museum first for about 20 minutes and then go wandering over the bridge the remaining 20 or so minutes. This is where I realised how ignorant I was about the Bridge over the River Kwai and what happened there. I mean, I’d heard of it, but I didn’t know why it was so significant. It was pretty depressing thinking about how many POW’s were there and what they were building and what for.

Lairey and I later walked over the bridge. For such a picturesque area, the history behind it is very depressing. Also, I discovered (yet again) the difference between Australian and Thai safety regulations, as at the opposite end of the bridge is a sign that states if a train is coming, you should move to a safety platform. I’d originally thought those were just handy viewing platforms. Wrong.

After this we went to the Tiger Temple. If I’m honest, I think I would have been devastated if I hadn’t gone there. I’d been wanting to go to Thailand for many years and wanted most of all to pat a tiger. In my mind I thought they would be fluffy and soft, but they feel rough and bristly in reality.

What happens when you go to pat a tiger is, if you’re by yourself, you have a chaperone who holds your hand anytime you’re not actually touching the tiger. Your chaperone leads you around the area and shows you where to touch the tiger. You should never approach a tiger face on and don’t ever wear red or orange as they are “hot” colours. When you’re with the tiger, your chaperone has your camera and takes photos of you for you, with a bonus couple of a tiger’s paw or its cute face.

I think I got to pat almost every tiger that was there that day. I probably don’t look happy in my photos but I think I was just a wee bit scared. It was all a bit surreal. My chaperone was also a bit cheeky and while we were moving between tigers, he’d tap other chaperones on the back of the leg. He also made me touch a tiger’s belly when everyone else before me got to hold its foot. If you look at the photo it looks a bit risque!

After Lairey and I finished with the tigers, we headed towards the area where there were baby tigers. The one that was on “display” looked like it didn’t really want to be there so I felt a bit sorry for it. But it was so cute. There was another one that a monk was walking around on a leash and it looked happier.

While Lairey and I sat down for a moment watching the baby tiger, a monk who had a deer sat near us. He’d signalled to a young man that he could feed the deer little sugar cubes (at least that’s what I think they were) and that he wanted the guy to put the sugar cube between his lips so that the deer would eat it from his mouth. Well, the guy did it and the monk thought it was hilarious. Then he signalled for Lairey and me to do it. He kept saying, “Mouth, mouth” so I knew he wanted me to do the same. Lairey took a couple of photos for me and then we swapped roles. I think that monk was also a bit cheeky.

We wandered around some more, but other than a few bears, peackocks, horses and what I think was some kind of bovine, we’d pretty much seen all we wanted to see. So we headed back to the van for the journey home.

It was such a good day. I was so glad that the man at the Internal Booking Office had organised it for us. It was definitely the highlight of the Bangkok part of the trip for me.

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