On my reunion trip with friends from Thailand, we toured through Bangkok in one day, the bustling capital, Hatyai and Songkhla, my friend’s hometowns in South Thailand and Koh Adang an island near Koh Lipe where we island hopped and went snorkeling. Our first stop was big, bad Bangkok.
I came to Thailand in the winter from north China, so I was dripping with sweat the first night. My cab driver was a smart man with figurines and beaded necklaces covering his dashboard and his perfectly spotless cab smelled like vanilla incense. When I arrived at my hostel, one that I thought was close to my airport, but was actually close to the other international airport and an hour taxi drive away, the front desk woman welcomed me warmly and brushed me up on “sawadeeka” and “khab kun kha”, “hello” and “thank you.” I climbed into my bed and was startled by a squeal, it sounded like a monkey or a baby, but it was a bird.
The next day I hopped onto a motorbike taxi and went to Victory Monument to meet my friends. Victory Monument is a roundabout street with a military monument in the center. The street is filled with street food vendors and clothing stalls. From Victory Monument we took a bright yellow and green car taxi to Wat Phra Kaew, the most most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand, located inside the Grand Palace walls. In the light of day I saw all the taxis were bright colors, blue and even pink. Wat Phra Kaew costs 500 baht to enter and lucky for my friends is free for Thai people. We went on a Saturday, so it was particularly crowded. Remember not to wear shorts or sleeveless shirts. The buildings of Wat Phra Kaew or elaborately embedded with gold, colored pieces of sparkly mirror and rich paint colors.
Inside the main building is the Green Buddha, the most sacred Buddha and protector of Thailand. You can purchase pink lotus blossoms for praying. The dizzying detail is very photogenic. Outside the building are small pools with water lilies, I took pictures of the water lilies and my friends made fun of me for paying 500 baht just to take a picture of a flower. On the entire inner wall of the Grand Palace is a long mural, 178 scenes in total, enameled with gold depicing the Indian story of Ramayana. After Wat Phra Kaew we went to eat spicy tom yum soup and shop at Chatuchak Weekend Market.
Chatuchak Weekend Market swallowed my alive. I bought my younger brother some “100% silk” silver boxers with gold elephants on them, sliced mango shaped soaps for some friends and white plumeria scented essential oils. Not long after this Chatuchak spit me out, the shops, stalls and vendors are packed so closely together in an endless maze. Chatuchak is one of the largest markets in Southeast Asia. So, we grabbed some chilled pineapple and mango on a stick and sat in the grass at Chatuchak park.