April 4th to April 5th, 2014
We hardly slept after arriving at the hotel at 1am or so. At 6am we decided to just get up, eat, sightsee and nap later. The Sky Train was just outside of our hotel. It was very easy to navigate once you figured out the system. (Cliff note: Go to the ticket counter to get change for the kiosk. You need to know where you are going. Beside the station name is a number which is the price of the ticket. Insert coins, get ticket, use the ticket to go through the turnstile, keep ticket for exit through the turnstile at your destination. ) We decided to take a long boat on the Chao Praya River to get a sense of Bangkok.
We got herded onto a private boat even though we wanted to take the public tourist boat - blame it on jet lag. It was a great introduction to the city, however, as we passed Wat Arun and numerous other temples and sites.
We got off the boat at Wat Pho and the National Palace. Wat Pho is a collection of wonderfully ornamented buildings, the highlight of which houses a monumental reclining gold Buddha.
The National Palace was next door but after walking around the entire compound looking for the entrance and thousands of people crowding around, we opted to go back to the hotel for a rest before our bodies failed us due to high heat, high humidity, and no sleep.
Before we left Atlanta, our travel doc warned us against street food. My CDC friends warned us against street food. What to do, what to do? I'm a bit obsessed with food and I thought I might have to strap myself to the masthead to resist Thai street food, but, I have to admit, the funky street smells, diesel fumes, and heat made it less appealing than I anticipated. Thankfully, the hotel had an extensive, multi-national, breakfast buffet so I was able to satisfy my need for asian flavors first thing each morning.
On Saturday, we got up early and went to the huge Chatachuk flea market. Chatachuk is a weekend market that is set up like a rabbit warren with loose themes in each section of the market It was a blast and we bought a lot of gifts. The only down side is that it is very HOT in Thailand. I was arrogantly dismissive before we left Atlanta....after all, Atlanta summers are brutal...we know all about high heat and humidity. I was humbled. Nothing can prepare you for this tropical heat and humidity. By noon, we were done....like dishrags! We walked to the metro, had to get money from the ATM machine and, addled by the heat, I left the card in the machine.....discovered this back at the hotel. So, I called the bank to cancel the card...luckily no fraudulent activity so it was just a stupid mistake on my part. Blame it on the heat!
That afternoon, we had to change to the pre-cruise hotel in order to join our group for our trip to Cambodia in the morning. The Sofitel is just up the street from the Marriott (about a mile by taxi). We had decided to spend the first part of the trip at the Marriott as we had two free nights that were about to expire through our Marriott credit card. The Sofitel is located in a more upscale area of the city (malls, designer stores, etc.) even though it is just a mile up the road from the Marriott. It may be just our proletariat roots, but we really liked the more authentic street life near the Marriott. You have a better sense of the community without the glitz and glamor.
We decided to have cocktails and dinner at the Madarin Oriental Hotel on the terrace overlooking the Chao Praya River. It was a magical setting as the sun set, the river was illuminated with fairy lights from the buildings and the river traffic .