Flying out of Yangon was a relief for both of us. We were really looking forward to being back in Thailand, where food was good and everything a little more developed. What’s more, we were couchsurfing again after a long break since Japan.
From the airport we used the app Grab to get a ride to our host. The airport taxi stand wanted 860 baht and the meter would likely run to 300 baht so we were happy with a Grab ride for 272. The ride in a car was a little luxurious compared to how we usually get around. We made it to our hosts place and felt right at home. Jennifer was open, friendly and very hospitable and she is lucky to live in a nice apartment with swimming pool and gym in the building. We didn’t have much time to chat that night as we were all pretty tired and went to our beds fairly soon.
Ferry boats were always busy
The next day we rose early to get to the royal palace before the hoards. We stopped at a café for a good coffee and then a restaurant for rice and chicken/pork. Before we knew it, time was running away with us, and we still had to catch a ferry into the centre. The ferry was busy but cheap at only 15 baht and we had to stand for the almost hour long journey. It was a good way to see a different side of Bangkok from the water.
Outside the huge Bangkok grand palace
The royal palace in Bangkok was heaving with tourists and large tour groups. On the way in Zoë had an entertaining visit to the toilet, where four Thai ladies were controlling the queue in an interesting fashion. She was shepherded into a cubicle ahead of the twenty chinese women in line in front of her and told to just keep pushing past them. Matthias got the tickets and we were in. Immediately, we saw that this truly is a must-see. The thai architecture and decoration are fantastic. The whole palace has been well restored from the murals to the statues and mirrored buildings. Despite all the people it was great to walk around and admire the beauty around us.
We visited the temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Pra Kaew) for some respite from the heat. This is the buddha that was brought all the way from Chiang Rai, where we saw it’s replica. It’s a small buddha but dressed in three different outfits for 3 different seasons; summer, winter and the rainy season. After more time around the palace we were struggling with the heat so took a break in the shade. It was a bit of a let down that we could not go into the main palace (maybe the king was in), but even the outside was very impressive.
Facade of the royal palace
Bizarrely two Chinese women seated opposite us were both smacking the inside of their elbows repeatedly and then comparing their arms. We still have no idea what they were aiming to do but we left them to it when their arms were pretty red. We didn’t need to hit our elbows repeatedly as we found the air conditioned museum of the Emerald Buddha. It’s a good museum with no tour groups and the original mosaics, statues and furniture from the palace.
Following our palace visit we found lunch and an iced Thai tea before we were ready for the next site. We headed to the national musuem where we learnt all about the history of the Thai kingdom and the royals. Some of the museum was shut for renovation, but we still had plenty to keep us busy for a couple of hours. Sadly we ran out of time wpand could not go into the building with the royal funeral carriages. A look through the window revealed some marvellous and impressive designs. Museumed out we made for the ferry and cruised back up river to our couchsurfers place.
We managed to miss each other by minutes, but that meant time for a nice dinner of Khao Soi before we met up again. We spent the rest of the evening chatting and really enjoyed finding a bit more out about our host.
The next day was bit more relaxed. We were at a bit of a loose end. We had the option to see more of the city but instead of trudging around in the heat we found a place for breakfast and then retired to a café to escape the heat. We had a night bus booked that evening so we didn’t fancy doing too much.
Getting to the night bus was a little more complicated due to the approaching new years festival Songkran. Instead of the usual office we had to find our way to some out of town office on the other side of the Chao Phraya river. Crossing the river was easy on the ferry. We had a wander through a market and found the railway station. We were blown away at the expense of our 20 minute train ride, 2 baht (£0.05) each! For that price we even got a seat and a friendly train guard who made sure we got off in the right place.
Walking from the train station to the bus office we stumbled upon a food market which was buzzing with locals buying their dinner. We hadn’t eaten yet so decided to pick up some rice, green curry, noodle salad and stir fry. We ended up sitting in the green area separating two roads, but the food was delicious and washed down with a coconut shake, it more than made up for the not so fabulous setting. Full we finished our walk and checked in for the bus.