March 20, 2008

Thailand Vacation - Temples and Canals

This morning we enjoyed a more casual breakfast of milk smoothies and donuts, followed by superb fresh squeezed orange juice that is sold on the streets here for about $0.80 a pop. It turns out that Bangkok is not only a late-night city, but also an early rising one. The street-side shops are set up early in the morning. Today, we also drove by the Bangkok Flower Market, a twenty-four hour market that caters to Thailand’s temples and businesses with fresh roses, marigolds, jasmine, and orchids (the number one export). Flower necklaces made of rose, marigold, and jasmine are used for religious purposes and are in high demand. We saw bags and bag and bags of fresh picked marigolds lining the streets, as we drove by.

One of the big themes in Thailand is the temples, called wat (there are 400 in Bangkok and 40,000 in Thailand). It is all about Buddhism here. Today we took a half-day temple and canal tour with Mem. The architecture of the Thai wat is amazing. We saw the solid gold Buddha, the 46 meter long Reclining Buddha (at Wat Pho), and The Marble Wat. The grounds at Wat Pho, in particular, are amazing, filled with Buddha statues, gardens, and soaring spiraling structures. At the Marble Wat, we saw a number of orange-robed monks. It turns out that nearly all Thai Buddhist men will become monks for some period (even if only a few weeks or a few months) during their life.

After the temples, we took a long-tail boat ride on the Chao Phraya River, and then through the winding canal “streets” that connect to it. This included a stop to feed loaves of bread to the snake head fish and catfish that hang out in front of one of the water-side wat (where they are protected and may not be caught).

After lunch, back at the hotel, we spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool. We taught the kids how to play Marco Polo, and Lauren learned to hold her breath under water. We realized that (i) it had been weird to eat lunch with forks and knives (we missed chopsticks!); and (ii) we missed the gaijin magic of instantly connecting socially to other gaijin you meet. Here, there were many Europeans and Australians hanging out by the pool, but they all ignored us.

Of course the kids are still like rock stars. And we are merely their entourage. At the airport, the Thai Airways representative made paper airplanes and origami birds for Jacob and Lauren. Tonight we traveled to Phuket (just one hour this time), where we arrived at Laguna Beach Resort at night. More on this place, once we can see it!

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I'm so glad the posts are back - i was going through Kasdan blog withdrawl!

Thailand sounds amazing... looking forward to hearing the rest of your stories (and culinary adventures!)