Sorry – This is the 3rd time I’m trying to write my post, as each time something happens to everything I had written. It is *so* annoying! (Especially as only some of it is Microsoft’s fault, but some of it is my own stupidity..)
So.. The day started with Oded’s new alarm clock *not* going off. So we started the day at around eleven instead of around eight… So we threw all our previous plans out the window, as the temples close at noon, and tried to decide what to do.. What we decided, in the end, was to plan today for tomorrow and tomorrow – wake up early! 🙂
We started by finding ourselves a new room – the current hostel had crawlies in the rooms… We actually managed to find a nice hostel room not too far away, with cleaner, bigger rooms and at a cheaper price! 🙂
Then we decided to go see the Palace and the adjacent temple… We started walking in that direction, anyway.. On the way, a nice Thai man (who is apparently a grade school teacher) started talking to us. The Thai seem to really like talking to tourists. We introduced ourselves as Canadians (since most Thai don’t like the Israelis, it seems). He taught us a few of the more important words in Thai – Hello, Thank You, How Much, Not Spicy – which we, unfortunately, promptly forgot as soon as he left! Then he told us not to shop in Khoa San (where all the Israelis are) since it’s expensive. We actually discovered that ourselves a little while earlier, when one of the booth runners told us that when he is selling to Israelis, he automatically raises the price around 300% – He offered us something at 2,500 BHT, then in an argument told us that if had known in the beginning that we were Israelis, he would have said 10,000 BHT. Ouch! Anyway, this nice man explained that today is a Buddhist holiday and we really want to go to this Wat and that Wat – specifically, to see the Standing Buddha, the Lucky Buddha and the Golden Mount, respectively. He then told us that there are Govenment TukTuks and private TukTuks – and we should only use the govenment TukTuks, as the private ones are expensive. We thanked him, but decided we wanted to walk to the palace and kept going. A minute later someone else wanted us to go see the temples in a govenment TukTuk, but he had a TukTuk tucked away across the street and wanted us to end at the “Govenment Export”, where supposedly the govenment sells textiles and other Thai products tax free. We thanked him and started to move on, but a private TukTuk driver stopped us and offered that he would take us to all the places mentioned at about half the cost. We agreed…
The first stop was the Standing Buddha. It’s 42 meters in height. Very nice. Also, there was a man selling birds in cages to be freed. I think it’s a custom there. The sign said something like “Free the Birds for Good Luck” and the birds-in-cages idea appeared in other temples as well.. So I bought a cage to set free. It was wonderful! 🙂 The birds are adorable, and they flew beautifully to the top of a nearby tree. Happy me! 🙂
Our next stop was the Lucky Buddha. This is also a beautiful temple. We met a nice Thai man who told us that we are very lucky to be in Thailand now since it’s a lucky holiday and this is th eLucky Buddha. That was fun! 🙂 He also told us, thinking our TukTuk was a government one, that the TukTuks get a voucher for free gas if they take tourists to the Export.. We had a wonderful time.
Unfortunately, that’s where the story takes a turn for the worse.. Our TukTuk was a private one, and we were to later infer that he has a similar deal with the gas, only different… He took us to a place that makes suits, then a phony TAT office, and tried to take us somewhere else. It seems that if we spend enough time in one of “his” places, he gets a free gas voucher, and if we buy somehting, he get a commision. We disappointed him, though. And we got annoyed enough to pay him slightly more than double the agreed fee (because my beloved has no backbone and pitied the driver for not getting the free gas voucher) and get off in the middle of the way. Which was okay, since we walked a little, then found another TukTuk to take us to the Golden Mount, which was the last stop on the list of things to see today. The second TukTuk was a fun Thai, though it was a little scary to be in the backseat.. Kind of like driving with Oded, come to think of it! 😉 Just kidding, love!
The Golden Mount is nice, and is definately worth a visit. It’s a partial nature walk and partial prayer garden walk up to the top, which has a Buddist Shrine and is important (I don’t remember why). This is a nice picture of a “sacred cat” or at least, a cat sleeping on a small shrine under a tree.
After the Golden Mount, we sat in the shade consulting the Lonely Planet (which Oded claims is the bible of travelling) for a good place to eat.. We decided on a small noodle shop in Chinatown..
We found Chinatown, and we even found Chinatown’s market, but we didn’t find the noodle shop. So we ate in Shangrila instead. (The restaurant, not the city!) I have to tell you, it’s an experience.. 🙂 The scary part is trying to figure out how to eat what’s on your plate.. The REALLY scary part is seeing your food come out of the aquarium before it reaces your plate. Ugh! Though that doesn’t make it any less tasty! 😉
We walked a bit in the Chinatown market, or what was left of it when we managed to finish eathing. The market mostly closes at sundown, and we left Shangrila about half an hour after.. We found chestnuts! Yay! Happy me! 🙂 I love chestnuts! 🙂 We also saw a fruit seller. This is great! They have fruits I’ve never seen before. So I asked about this strange cross between a Sabres and a Lychee (at least by the look of it) “What is this?” They tell me, laughingly, the name. In Chinise. Great! (I. of course, with my inability to grasp language, forgot the next minute what they said..) So I asked if I could taste it.. It seems that I am very funny when I ask for things and react to them, because they were laughing and so was Oded. Go me! 🙂 Anyway, the young lady peels this fruit for me and hands it to me to try. Wow! Tasty! Tastes kind of like Shesek! 🙂 (Insert English translation here..) Cool! So I bought some! 🙂 Here’s a picture. If anyone can find me a name for the fruit, I would be really grateful..
Now I have chestnuts and Sheseklike fruit to snack on! 🙂
At this point we headed back to our room, thou we’ve stopped for Internet first.. I’m not sure what we’ll do this evening.. Maybe find a night-market or maybe just read some and go to sleep..
On a completely differet note, I have, surprisingly, gotten used to Bangkok’s horrible odour… I didn’t think it was possible! 🙂
Also, if you are planning to visit here, do some homework – Learn a few of the basic Thai words – Hello, How Much, Thank You, etc. Also, learn the basic custom Do’s and Don’ts. They will treat you with more respect, which translates into lower fees. And know how to haggle! It’s disrespectful in most places (unless the price is clearly written or it’s an actual store) to buy at the named price. The better you haggle, the better the buy. (I’ve really got to learn how to haggle properly!)
So, I’m having a wonderful time! : Even the TukTuk (which is called Samlawn or so in Thai) “scam” was fun for me, though Oded got pretty annoyed.. Mostly, the Thai are a very friendly, fun people.
Love you all!