Bangkok has a wonderfully mixed and almost integrated public transport system. There are trains, sky trains, underground trains and boats that link the city pretty well.
The previous day we caught the express boat and whilst it was fast the piercing sound from the guard’s whistle at the back of the boat took some of the enjoyment out . This time we got the slow boat and by the fourth stop we wrote both considering killing the annoying man with the microphone giving chirpy tourist information out over the loudspeaker and decided we preferred tinnitus whistle man.
Our destination at the end of the torture was the Grand Palace. Home to the King of Thailand, lots of government administrative buildings, and of course temples. Showing respect inside the temples is extremely important and how you behave and what you wear are very important. Don’t point your feet towards Buddha, don’t touch another persons head, don’t wear shoes and dress conservatively.
Further frustrations ensues as a result of bright sun, heat and multiple queues and a less than clear policy on what constitutes conservative dress. By the time we get in we are hot and bothered and one of us looks like they should be painting and decorating.
Inside there is yet more temple majesty. Gold everywhere, pointy buildings, ornate statues, lots of Buddhas. All golden of course. Except the most revered Buddha in Thailand.
Who, despite sitting in a room of gold, and on a plinth of gold and wearing his gold winter cloak (his clothes change during the year – this is winter Buddha, also available spring Buddha and Summer Buddha) is green. He looks a bit like Yoda, apparently because he is made from emerald.
After the palace we do a bit of a walking tour including a section that the guidebook describes as the Champs Élysées of Bangkok (I doubt the author has ever been to France!) as we make our way to the start of of our evening cycling tour.
You may not think that Bangkok Would be the most cycle friendly city in the world. You would be right. Cars, people, mopeds, dogs and cars all present a genuine risk to the unwary cyclist, and cycle lanes are all but non-existent (where they do exist they are abused by mopeds).
Consequently we would like to pay tribute to Grasshopper Adventures (insert link here) for creating a safe but exhilarating ride though nighttime Bangkok. Seeing the temples lit up and night and without the throngs of tourists is fairly special, but nipping through back streets, past markets, crossing rivers and generally feeling part of one of the world’s most vibrant cities on two wheels was a memorable experience.
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