Today was my 28th birthday and it was nothing short of brilliant and another typical Bangkok day. Just like the city itself, it was quick, busy, mixed and hot.
We woke up late this morning, previously wanting to get to the Grand Place and Temple of the Emerald Buddha soon after opening to avoid the crowds but that plan was scrapped after we woke up over an hour after opening. Grabbed some breakfast real quick and a shower and headed for the water taxi to get to the Grand Palace complex. Today also turned out to be the hottest day of the trip so far (but not the hottest to come) at 36°C – quite the scorcher.
We got to the temple without incident, dodging all of the gigantic Chinese tour groups along the way and walked around the complex, sweating profusely the whole way. Unfortunately, no photography is actually allowed in the actual temple or in many of the royal buildings, but the visit was interesting nonetheless. We made a view snapshots outside but nothing really worth sharing other than those here.
Once we finished up at the Grand Palace, we jumped on another boat to head down to Wat Pho, which turned out to be our favorite of the two. Unfortunately, Wat Arun is closed until sometime in 2016 at the earliest while renovation work is being done, so we won’t be able to climb that unless we come back to Bangkok in the future. Wat Pho, however, was brilliant. I ripped my new (but thankfully cheap) linen pants wide open while squatting down to photograph one of the many stray cats wandering around the complex (cat food is littered around in random corners) – pants are baggy, though, so no one knew. The extra breeze in the heat was certainly welcome!
We finished up at Wat Pho and then grabbed another water taxi and headed home for a shower before getting dressed a bit nicer to go to a rooftop bar. It turns out that the Novotel Fenix here in Silom is across the street from the hotel used in Hangover 2 and is apparently the nicest rooftop bar in Bangkok, albeit quite expensive. There’s a dress code so I had to pull my jeans out of the closet where we’ve been stuffing our sweaty and stinky clothes at the end of each day (gagged a bit at the smell…) and throw on a shirt for the visit. Good thing the jeans didn’t stink (birthday miracle?) and we were at the top floor (64 floors up!) and each had a cocktail in our hands in no time, just in time to watch the sun set over Bangkok!
Now the fun was to begin because we finished our ridiculously overpriced cocktails, I changed into some shorts and we found a taxi to take us to Khao San Road for food and more drinks. I actually didn't bring my camera for this part of the trip. I'd been carrying my bag around almost the entire day and wanted a night off, so to say, on my birthday.
The funny thing about Khao San Road is that the food choices are quite limited in terms of street food. There’re various flavors of Pad Thai, roasted scorpions, various insects (the vendors charge 10 BHT for photos/video of their wares), fried rice and fruit. That’s it. Not the buffet of food that you have at other streets, so that was a bit of a disappointment. The Pad Thai was really good and really cheap so I suppose one can’t complain too much. Khao San street vendors and bars also sell beer at quite a markup. It’s cheaper to just go to 7Eleven on the road, grab some beers from the fridge at a much cheaper price and have the cashiers open the bottles for you – sweet! It’s also the only place you can drink in public in Bangkok that I know of, so that’s not bad.
After about 8pm, the place gets shuffled up and the massage parlors spread out their lounge chairs for massages, clothing stands spring out of the ground and many street vendors either disappear or move to make room. Shame because that’s when it gets annoying. The number of people trying to sell you a crappy suit or get you into their bar double and then you get the guys coming out trying to sell you entrance to a ping pong show. We ducked out after drinking a bit more and headed back to the hotel and that’s the last I’m going to say about the day. ;)