The flight from Singapore to Bangkok was an interesting one, thanks to the gentleman I sat next to. He is in senior position in well-known brand, and we first started talking about how I like using my iPhone that was in my hand… he had a Nokia Windows Phone with some very high mega-pixel spec… From the talk of user experience, we got into all sorts of talks, about branding, work ethics, team management, stuff like that. Time flew, and before I know it, we were saying good-byes at the carousel.
Thanks to my friend, I managed to book a relatively new and clean backpackers near a train station. Dropping the stuff I went back down to get some ideas from the girls at the reception. Chinatown seems to be the direction I should be aiming at, if I was after seeing places where people live.
I walked under the hot sun, passed a park, told to catch a bus (ended up with the non-free service paying 10 baht but got me there – standing for a long time due to traffic jam -more on that later), found myself in a street of metal workers, from metal pipes, engine repairs and dismantling… I started talking to some of the workers there and got ok to photograph them in action.
The traffic jam was caused by some demonstration that was taking place – it seems there is a part of public that is complaining regarding a corruption in government. Later in the evening, I walked into the big gathering. As I heard before about political gathering in Thailand, it has got lots of loud speakers and whistles, but I did not get a sense of anger or violence.
I even got a free meal. That kinda balanced off with the fact that the tuk tuk I caught in the heavy rain to come home later on ripped me off big time…
It felt like just another night market, except for the massive crowd. There were stalls selling hats, toys, spare battery, all sorts of stuff.
Opposite a line of old temples and some former official buildings was a long tall wall. Was this a walled city? I noticed there were houses and small street stands on the other side, and followed my nose.
From the back of the first tuk tuk in years… It was pouring for a few minutes.
The second day in Bangkok, I woke up pretty early. The guy in the bunk above me was moving around in his bed non-stop making squeaking noise from the metal bed frame, and I was downstairs by 7am. It was around 8am, though, that I finished jotting down thoughts in the journal book and picked up the bag to start walking. It was indeed an expat area near my backpackaers (Lumphini), with lots of embassy buildings, international school, and on the other side of block I found a line of small businesses, cafes and restaurants that looked rather cozy. It wouldn’t be too bad living around here… first I should get a diplomat job.
I had decided to walk across to the other side of this area to hit the river, so I can catch a boat towards the palace. In the end, though, I was half way when I was asking direction at the train station (looked like one, but it was actually a station for buses running its dedicated lane with ‘platform’ for stops), where I was told it was just way too far but a combination of bus and train to get to the pier is not so expensive. Indeed it was pretty cheap. At this point I was beginning to realise why so many locals take metered taxi instead of tuk tuk and bi-tac. In about 10 min by boat, I was in front of the massive Palace. I was overwhelmed by the size of it and I was not so into the touristy stuff, so I decided to skip it and walked about a kilometre along the block to Wat Pho.
The huge reclining Buddha – check (actually been here once as a tour conductor, but very little stuck in my memory)
More impressive Buddha images – check.
Then on the side was this warehouse-like building. And I met those 2 people.
They were repairing the decoration on the statues. I did not want to interrupt by asking which ones they’d repaired already. But there were dozens lined up in that L-shaped warehouse. They kindly permitted me to photograph them at work.
After thanking them for letting me stay and photograph, I went outside, to the heat, and found a shop where I picked up a couple of cold drinks for the kind artists.
When I sat down to cool down, there were nuns gathering under the roof fans waiting for the prayer to start. One of them was calling out for a cat, so we instantly connected. She was pleased to have me photograph with the cat. According to her, this white guy was popular around here…
There were classroom settings in the ground of temple. Maybe novices study here during the week?
In the back, an old section was quiet.
To cool down a bit, I took a tuk tuk to the train station to ask about train services, and subway back to Lumphini. It was only 20 baht for that train ride, while the tuk tuk driver just out side the station refused my offer of 70 baht. No, no more tuk tuk, I’d say.
Now… another sudden change of plans. I’m throwing away $12 (or whatever it was for the night) and heading for the train towards Chiang Mai. Not quite ‘to’ Chiang Mai, as the rail service stops trains at Uttaradit. When I was shown the map, I realised how far Chiang Mai is from Uttaradit. My hope of making a day trip in the morning and making it before dark to find my hotel was at risk. So I decided to travel tonight, and get to Chiang Mai by bus from Uttaradit during the day. This is what I should have planned for from the start, but without research I’d booked accommodation back to back, so that’s just my bad. It is that kind of journey… stressful work weeks with little head space to think about this trip before hand. Oh well, at least I am here, eating the noodle in the noise of Thai traffic. That’s what I came here for. Well, of course, I came really to meet those smiling kind people.