Grand Palace, Wat Pho, monitor lizards (Yikes) & a German Brewery
What a day! We got an early start ready to take on two of Bangkok's most popular attractions: The Grand Palace and Wat Pho. After breakfast, we took the hotel's tuk-tuk to a pier along the Chao Phraya River. We took a boat up the river to reach the Grand Palace. There was a lot of action along the river - tourist boats, tugboats hauling huge amounts of cargo, commuters, etc...
Once we arrived at the Grand Palace, we were swept away by hordes of tour groups. It was hard to stick together! We battled our way to the ticket area and despite dressing in what we thought was appropriate, DD#1 and I were pulled aside and asked to borrow a t-shirt. We had scarves covering our shoulders and apparently that was not modest enough. (Yes, we are wearing the exact same thing that we wore two days ago!) We borrowed some ugly shirts and continued to fight through the crowds in the intense heat. Luckily, once we got into the palace complex, things opened up and we could finally appreciate why this place is so popular!
The detail on every single surface was breathtaking. It was hard to take in so much at once!
The girls loved walking around taking selfies. It took their mind off the heat and crowds a bit.
One thing I keep noticing about Bangkok are all the extremes. Whether it's the heat, the rain, the crowds, the number of street vendors, the size of the markets and malls, the traffic - it's all extreme! Despite all the chaos, none of the Thai people seem worried a bit. They go about their business with a smile and seem unfazed by what seems extreme to me. I'm also trying to figure out the extremes in terms of prices. I paid just over $2 for lunch on the street today and it was amazingly delicious! We went to a fancier place for dinner and paid closer to $60. The same holds true for shopping and hotel accommodations. You can pay bargain basement prices or pay through the roof for luxury. These are simply observations I've made after my three days here.
Back to our day. After the Grand Palace, we walked to a park on the way to Wat Pho. DD#2 was excited to play on some play structure that looked enticing. We found the entrance to the park and walked near a pond with a disused fountain. We saw not one but three monitor lizards swimming and lounging near the fountain. Eeek! These lizards are about as long as an adult human and are known for being quite fast. DD#1 was scared out of her mind so we took a couple quick pictures and ditched the park!
We found our way into the impressive and less-crowded Wat Pho. This wat is most known for its enormous reclining gold Buddha. The detail and architecture all around the wat complex was beautiful. Not as glitzy as the Grand Palace but more accessible and peaceful. Both spots were a photographer's dream.
By this point, we were thirsty and had consumed eight bottles of water. We found an air-conditioned coffee shop and bought cold drinks. We took the boat back the pier and made our way to our hotel all by 2pm. I bought delicious food on the street right around the corner from the hotel for $2. Some of the best Pad Thai ever!
The kids and I swam for a long time and we managed to relax all afternoon. We decided to take a taxi to a German Brewery just south of the city that we had heard about from our friends. The place was huge! There was a cover band performing everything from Barry Manilow, Maroon 5, to Sinatra. They were pretty entertaining! We had a nice leisurely meal with a bizarre mix of German and Thai food. The kids were happy to get a balloon. Just when you think they're getting too old for something, they surprise you. At eleven, DD#1 isn't ready to say no to a balloon. Good for her!