Denali and I slept in. We decided it would be a walk around and discover the old town day. We took a taxi to Banglamphu area. We didn’t know quite how to explain where we wanted to go to the driver, so we asked to be dropped off at the Grand Palace. It was supposed to be kind of close to where we wanted to go. But because we weren’t very clear, the driver let us off on the far side of the palace. On top of that, it wasn’t really close to the palace itself, just near the entry zone. In order to leave the area we had to go through the palace grounds. First we had to go through security. Denali forgot to bring a copy of his passport, so that was an issue. But after some discussion they let him through with me because I had mine. Then we started walking towards the palace. At this point we decided to just see it today because we were so close, even though temples were not in the plan for the day. So we kept walking.
The palace never seemed to get any closer. Finally we rounded a corner and we saw the main gate. We got in, only to be told I was dressed appropriately, but Denali was not. He had on shorts, so he had to rent a pair of pants or not go in. We decided to go back to the original plan of no temples today.
We went looking for the Banglamphu area and stumbled upon the famed amulet market. It was chock full of all sorts on tiny to large buddhas, dragons, etc. While wandering through rows of stalls, we found an interesting little place to eat. It opened up to the river. The food was great and cheap. Denali and I had food and drink for $4!
After eating we kept walking and found the Banglamphu area. Denali obtained some cheap clothes. I encouraged him to grab some harem pants, which he did in a muted color. This is where he picked up his Chang beer shirt. It’s the official beer of Thailand. You cannot leave Thailand without a shirt representing it. The area was filled with backpackers and other tourists. It was getting hot and on a whim, we decided to get haircuts. Denali got a general clean up, a little off the sides and top. I got an undercut. I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while and finally took the plunge. I should have done it a long time ago, because I felt 50% cooler!
After fresh cuts, we continued walking and stumbled upon a temple. This isn’t very hard to do, as they are everywhere. Denali was enthralled by the golden spire so we took a detour inside. Inside was a gorgeous Buddha.
Every temple has at least one, but they seem to get better and better. As we were leaving, a man asked us if we were going to the Big Buddha. We told him we hadn’t really decided. He told us we must go today. He asked if we had seen the TV. We told him no and he laughed. He said we must go to the Big Buddha and gave us walking directions. 15 minutes he said. So we started walking and walking. Then another man comes up and points us down a street. We were a little unsure, but he said the Big Buddha was in that direction. We walked half a block a decided we wanted to go back to the original man’s directions. We pass man number two on the way back. He looked at us and said we were going in the wrong direction. He asked us for our map and circled where we were and where the Buddha was. He also circled three other temples, and said today was a great day and that we could get a tuk tuk with a yellow license plate to take us to the four temples for 40 baht. He also asked us if we had seen the TV. We just stood there, a little confused, so he stopped a tuk tuk and told us to get in and away we went to the Big Buddha. Our driver, Dang, then told us it was Buddha day, all the temples were free and the government gave free gas to tuk tuk drivers if they took us to the four temples. Apparently to promote tourism. The Big Buddha was very tall. I wasn’t prepared. There were a lot of monks and school children everywhere.
After being wowed by the Big Buddha, we made our way to the Lucky temple. A man inside also told us about Buddha day and how it happens once a year. He also told us about government day and how they only coincide one every four years. He also said today was the day to buy a suit from a place called The Factory. It’s where Armani suits get made, but it’s also a place to get tailor made suits. Today was the day because on government day there was no tax. Normally the tax is 50%. He said if you bought one today it would be lucky and you would have a lot of luck when you wore it. We thanked him for the info, marveled at the lucky Buddha and made our way back to the tuk tuk.
Our driver then took us to The Factory. We were greeted with cold water and pleasant faces. We were given the song and dance spiel about the quality of the suits. I cut to the chase and asked the price. It was good so Denali got measured and picked fabrics. He was also sold on tailor made shirts. We left with instructions to come back tomorrow for a fitting.
Off we went to the next temple, Wat Saket. It is also known as The Golden Mount. Our driver said he had an emergency with his sons, so we gave him 50 baht and said our goodbyes. Wat Saket had so many steps but the view was worth it. As you walked up there were bells you could ring. We chose not to ring them because we did not know the significance of what it meant. Inside the top of the mount were more beautiful buddhas and carvings.
We made our way back down and to the street. We saw our driver waving at us. He told us we gave him too much money. We informed him the extra was for him. He thanked us, said the problem with his children was resolved, and that he had one more temple to take us to. He apologized profusely for having to leave us. We told him it was ok. In reality this whole adventure with the temples was a bonus, so we didn’t mind.
The last temple turned out to be the first one Denali spotted that started this whole excursion. So we made our way back to the hotel. By this time I was exhausted, I showered and rested. Denali took a dip in the pool. We were supposed to explore Chinatown in the evening but I was too tired. So he went out to my favorite spring roll cart and procured glass noodle spring rolls and Thai sweet chili sauce. We feasted and fell asleep watching the DaVinci Code. It was a good day.