Bangkok Day 2

On Monday Riley woke up around 5am in good spirits. I left Elise to sleep for a bit longer (Riley tends to crawl all over her in her sleep, making it difficult to get much uninterrupted sleep) and took Riley downstairs to walk around and get an early breakfast: cereal, milk, and some fruit. (She doesn’t seem to like papaya, but that’s reasonable enough, given that it usually tastes a bit like vomit.) There are some birds (parrots of some sort?) in a cage at the hotel that say a few words: good morning, hello, and some Thai. Riley was pretty into them, except when they hid in the shadowy bits of the cage (it was still pre-dawn) and make loud noises.

The plan was to get to the Grand Palace by 8:30am to beat the crowds, but it ended up being more like 9:30 or 10:00. It was pretty crowded at that point, but there were no lines at least. It was pretty impressive: lots of temples in different styles, and lots of statues all over the place. Most are covered with little squares of colored ceramic or bits of mirror, which Riley had a great time touching: She kept asking, “Can I touch something? Can I touch something else?” When we agreed she would reach out with one little finger and say “Touch!” with a devilish grin on her face. We touched a beast-like statue and Riley excitedly reported back to Dallas, Vida and Sage “I put my finger in the beast’s nose!”

By the time we left the crowds had really picked up and it took us some 10 minutes to get far enough away to stop and get our bearings. We went back to the boat dock and (after some confusion and delay) caught a water taxi to Wat Arun, which is just across and down the river. The water taxi’s are pretty fun: they’re long skinny boats with repurposed car engines mounted on the back and a crazy long propeller shaft sticking out the back: fast and very loud. (And a little dangerous… I saw one with a fully exposed radiator fan, patiently waiting for the pilot to trip backwards and get his face chewed off by the blades.)

Wat Arun was pretty low key (relative to the morning), with minimal crowds and pretty low key street food and souvenier vendors. We had a selection of ice cream bars, water, and chips for lunch (perfect!) and then climbed the crazy steep stairs up the tower to get a nice view of the river. Riley played a bit on the grass, collecting seed pods and giving them to Elise and me. She wanted to give one to Vida, and after a bit of coaxing went over to give it herself. The last one she wanted to give to Dallas, but she was too shy… she kept saying she wanted to give it to “someone” while looking coyly at Dallas, or “that guy” when pointing at him. She showed it to him, but then chickened out and gave it to Vida to give to him. (Of course we started laughing, which didn’t help… she loves to entertain.)

We caught a quick ferry across the river and then a (long, slow, but thankfully air conditioned) cab to Vimanmek Teak House, a mansion built for the king around the turn of the century. It’s claim to fame is it’s the largest golden teak building in the world (which just makes me wonder if there is a larger non-golden teak building elsewhere?). We were a bit worried about Riley since its a guided tour, but she ended up having a great time: the group moved along just fast enough to keep her interested, and give her enough time to step over the door thresholds between each room a few times. They’re maybe 3-4″ high (to keep scorpions, small children, and evil spirits from passing, we were told) and just novel and tricky enough for Riley to really get into them. The
house itself was really cool: hallways on the outside, two main wings, and a big octogonal section with a cool spiral staircase. And varous artifacts: lots of crazy old Chinese ceramic, elephant tusks and such, and strangely large selection of old typewriters (English and Thai), and other random gifts to the royals.

By the end (4 or so) we were pretty spent and made our way home (taxi to the river, then a river ferry… much better then suffering through Bangkok traffic!). Riley fell asleep on the way home, and I ran off to a department store to get some slacks: Elise and I made reservations at Le Normandie, a rediculously fancy french restaurant in the hotel (one of the reasons we chose it) and the dress code excluded jeans (that’s what you get for packing too light!). It was a bit hectic and I made it back just in time to make our reservation, but it was well worth it: the meal was amazing and delicous. We got the chef’s tasting of some 7
courses, one with the wine pairings and one without, and between the two of us were just barely able to keep up (we’re lightweights these days). Elise had just remarked about how much the meal reminded her of the French Laundry when after the meal the maitre’de started telling us about the restaurant and (upon learning we were from California) mentioned that Thomas Keller (who apparently never works abroad?) had spent two weeks working in the kitchen a year or two back. All in all, a delightful evening to celebrate the (approximately) 3 year anniversary of our engagement.

Click here for pctures of Day 2 in Bangkok

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