Day 3: The proper shoes
Jenn and I woke up to a phone call from the front desk. Her friend, Tatiana, had arrived in Bangkok. Tatiana had just completed a season as one of the Mount Everest base camp doctors. The timing worked out perfectly for her to meet us in Thailand for a week of relaxation and warm weather. We were planning on seeing the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha today. I could not believe it, but they have uber in Bangkok!?! We stopped and go’ed our way through traffic in order to get to the other side of the city. We went first to the Reclining Buddha. It was a whole temple complex with incredibly ornate buildings, numerous Buddha statues, and of course the reclining Buddha.
And who doesn’t love a good bathroom sign?
It was incredibly hot out. I mean I guess we should have expected that given that it was summer in SE Asia, but still, it was hot. We stopped in a little cafe that had air conditioning and cold beer. The pad Thai wasn’t bad either. Then we encountered our first and only scam of the trip. As we were walking to the Grand Palace, we were stopped by a Thai gentleman who inquired where we were going. This wasn’t unusual as a lot of random locals would ask us where we were from or engage in other polite chit chat. I’m not sure if the Thai were friendly, wanted to practice their English, or both. But I digress… After we told this particular guy that we were headed to the Grand Palace, he was sad to inform us that it was already closed for the day. We all thought this was weird but it was a Sunday so who knows. He instead offered to have his tuk tuk driver take us on a city tour complete with another bout of temple sightseeing. The three of us piled into the back of the tuk tuk.
But then things started to go south. The driver then took us to a tourist booking agency. When we told him that he didn’t need to buy any tours, he basically refused to keep driving. Then he told us that we would have to buy him gas for the tuk tuk. When we threatened to get out without paying him, he quickly changed his tune and dropped us off at one of the boat docks on the river. Definitely a little sketchy.
We hopped on a local river boat right about at Sunset. The destination was the State Building.
There was an awesome SkyBar on top of the building that we wanted to check out. It was actually one of the filming locations for the movie, “Hangover 2”. We showed up in our tourist garb and were promptly turned right back around by the elegantly dressed women who worked there. Apparently you could not wear flip flops at the SkyBar. Okay…. So we found ourselves on the dirty, muggy, crowded streets of Bangkok in order to buy “proper shoes”. We found a department store and were all able to buy shoes for about $10 a piece. The funny part (to me at least) is that my Rainbow brand flip flops cost about 3 times as much as my “smart casual” dress code shoes. But the bar was totally worth it!
We were somehow able to get reservations at Nahm, which was recently the top restaurant in Bangkok. We ordered numerous dishes to share between the three of us. It was pretty much a taste explosion. And an excellent end to an excellent day.
Time to head down south to the beach! Pretty much everyone that Jenn and I had talked to had recommended that we go to Koh Samui while in Thailand, so that’s where we booked our flights to. Our hotel comprised of little bungalows next to the beach with a pool and an outdoor bar. It was so nice and so cheap!
We found out that the Thai massages on the island were every bit as good as those in Bangkok. Whew, what a relief. Since you are fully clothed while receiving a Thai massage, most establishments don’t think twice about putting you right next to someone else. Jenn and my dueling massages hit a crescendo when we were simultaneously pulled back into a bow pose (for those of you not familiar with yoga, imagine being face down and then having your arms pulled back and legs pushed up so that your back is in the shape of the letter C on its side). We looked over at each other and just burst out laughing.
The night ended with a gluttonous amount of fresh seafood. A girl could get used to this life…..
Day 5: Thai boxing
The three of us woke up just in time for a pretty spectacular buffet breakfast at the hotel. We were going to try to find a place to rent kayaks or stand-up paddle boards, but instead found ourselves poolside for the noon happy hour instead. Tatiana went to take Thai cooking classes but Jenn and I opted to just eat more Thai cooking. We went to a really cool restaurant right on the beach called The Library. It was probably one of the fancier lunches that I have had complete with crab street tacos, pad Thai, duck, topped off with a bottle of wine.
After all that relaxing and eating, it was time for another massage. I’m not going to lie, this one was pretty rough. I thought for sure that I was either going to get my back broke or end up with a torn hamstring. The masseuse was actually standing and walking on me! But I’m pretty sure that someone who weighs more than you and has a mustache should not be the one doing the back walking!!!
The grand finale to our day was Muay Thai – a full contact match of Thai style fighting. We had been seeing billboard laden trucks blasting “Eye of the Tiger” going up and down the streets advertising the match for the past two days. It was an experience! There was a lot of ritual involved prior to the fight with the fighters doing a lot of bowing and stylized dance (fighting?) moves. The match was accompanied by live musicians. Wikipedia informs me that this music is referred to as Sarama. It is performed by four musicians playing oboes, Thai drums, and cymbals. The sweltering heat of the warehouse we were in along with the rhythmic Sarama led to an almost hypnotic experience. There was a section labeled “Thai Only” where the locals packed in to cheer for their favorite fighter. It was almost more entertaining to watch this section trash-talk the fighters while leaning over the railing rather than the fight itself.
Stay tuned for our next adventure.