Day 156: Bangkok, Thailand. We’re back! After a quick and chilly visit to the UK for Jim’s dad’s funeral, we’re now in toasty Bangkok and all set to resume our crazy Asian Rambles. We booked our flights to Thailand the night before we left the UK; tempting as it was to return to India, we decided we really needed a break from the chaos.
The English weather was a bit of a shock to the system; biting cold and with a fair bit of rain. On a positive note, it was lovely to catch up with family, albeit on a very sad occasion. We also managed to pack in a couple of walks, gleefully hiking through the English countryside in the comforting knowledge that we had no chance of meeting deadly snakes, bears or leopards.
We’d originally planned to head straight from Bangkok to the north of Thailand, but as luck would have it, one of Jim’s debit cards got hit with a few fraudulent transactions. So once again we’re grounded until a replacement card arrives. Thankfully this time we’re in a major international city, which should help speed things along.
We woke this morning to a glorious Bangkok day – hot and sunny but nowhere near as humid as our June visit, and perfect for sitting on the balcony and reading in the early morning sun. Our guesthouse is tucked down a lane way with a bunch of street vendors selling food and an extraordinary number of cats bearing collars and bells (we reckon the guesthouse owner must be a crazy cat lady).
We wandered out around midday and stopped for food at one of the lane way eateries, where we perched on plastic chairs impressively taped together to seal the cracks. And after two months of rich Indian vegetarian food, it felt good to sit and scoff huge bowls of noodles with pork and chicken and crunchy stir fried vegetables.
Afterwards, we headed off for a long sunny walk around the city. Compared to India, the streets are a lot easier to negotiate, with neat lanes of cars and bikes, traffic lights at every junction, proper pavements to walk on, no incessant honking of horns (hallelujah), and no free-roaming cows causing udder havoc.
And of course, there are fabulous ornately decorated Buddhist temples liberally dotted around the city.
A local restaurant was drying a large platter of meat in the sun as we walked past – we’re not sure how hygienic it is to dry food on a busy pavement next to traffic, but hey, everyone does it.
Having spent a chunk of time here in June, we’ve already done all the regular city sightseeing and exploring. However, we were keen to return for another visit to Lumpini Park, a 57 hectare green oasis in the middle of the city, for a spot of lizard spotting. The lake in the park is home to around 400 water monitors and it’s a real treat to be able to get so close to them (but not too close, as they’re prone to attacking if they feel threatened).
After our lizard fix, we headed to Central World for some shopping – a busy modern shopping mall in the heart of the city, which even on a weekday was packed with shoppers. We also saw our first Christmas tree – just in time, as Halloween finishes tonight.
We bought local sim cards, stocked up on toiletries, and Lil bought a light travel kettle so she can fix her coffee cravings at any time of day or night. It’s a natty white and green plastic job that looks like it may not have a very long life, and with a rather unsettling instruction leaflet which warns ‘May have some smoke during the first-time boiling’. Thankfully there was no smoke when we tried it out, or it would have been going straight back to the shop. The leaflet also has a rather complicated diagram on boiling times and temperatures, which we assume in summary means that it takes 3-4 minutes for the water to reach 85C and 10 minutes to reach 100C.
In our continuing endeavour to try ‘new things’, we also bought some preserved salted boiled eggs, which last for a month without being refrigerated. They’re incredibly salty with a pretty unusual and not very eggy flavour, and Lil says they’re unlikely to be a repeat purchase. Jim, of course, loves them.
Being Halloween today, we saw a few people dressed as witches strolling about in the baking heat, and the bar opposite our guest house was sporting a few dangling pumpkins. Otherwise, Halloween celebrations were pretty quiet in our neck of the woods, though doubtless on Khaosan Road the witches and ghouls will be partying hard.
We had dinner in a restaurant at the end of the laneway – good old pad yhai, chicken noodle soup, and a green bean, lime and chilli salad. Thankfully Jim was happy to skip the duck lips special, given his previous encounter with the rubbery delicacy was pretty disappointing.
Tomorrow we’re planning another long walk around the city, after a couple of caffeine hits from Lil’s new travel kettle. Let’s hope it continues to do its thing without resorting to smoking.