Bangkok Diaries: Wat Pho, Reclining Buddha and the Streets of Bangkok

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The streets of Bangkok are very similar to Manila's - except they're more crowded. There are also a lot of foreigners walking around in their shorts or pajama-like pants. What's comfortable is fashionable because of the hot weather.

My first agenda is to visit at least two temples. There are so many temples in Bangkok. The only problem is getting around. Taxi drivers are quick to charge you from 200 to as much as 400 per ride the moment they find out you're a tourist. I opted to take the bus. But which one? 

I went to a money changer at the mall to get more Baht and tried to ask for directions. The very kind gentleman told me not to take the taxi because it will definitely be more expensive. He asked me to take bus #2. But before I went to the bus stop, I went to the Platinum Shopping mall to get something to eat. As usual, I did not try anything local because my stomach just wasn't feeling it. 

I also took that chance to verify the directions I got from the receptionist. To my dismay, he didn't speak English at all. Instead, he gave me a map for free.

The bus system in Bangkok is similar to the ones in Hong Kong and Seoul. The routes are marked with numbers so you shouldn't really get lost. The only problem is they didn't have the routes posted so there's no way for me to verify if Bus #2 is indeed what I should take. The guy at the money changer seemed credible so I took the next bus #2. It was full of locals (I was the only tourist). I asked the female conductor if the bus was going to Wat Pho and she nodded. After 15 minutes or so, I asked if we are anywhere near Wat Pho and she got irritated.

Conductor: Wat Pho? Wat Pho? (spoke something in Thai)
Me: Sorry.. just wanted to.. okay. Nevermind.

Later I realized that the final stop is a few meters from my destination. The conductor gave me directions (purely hand gestures) and so I started walking. A few minutes later, I found my Wat Pho.... and it was FABULOUS.

A couple of nice European ladies were kind enough to take my picture. I love doing that.

I entered the temple where the reclining Buddha is resting. We had to remove our shoes and leave them at the entrance. I prayed silently that no one would take them. Why? Because there's a large sign outside that says "Beware of Non-Thai Pickpockets and Thieves". 

Outside, the garden area is full of tourists and more gorgeous structures. I wanted to go to the Grand Palace but it was hot and I was already sweating like hell. The steep entrance fee was also not very attractive. I just told myself I'll be back anyway.

I left the palace and found myself lost somewhere around it. I couldn't find the entrance near the bus stop. I walked further and further until I saw a small park of some sort where there were a couple of Chinese-looking folks feeding the pigeons. A smiling Thai woman put a plastic of feed into my hand. I politely declined but she wouldn't stop bothering me. And so I stood there feeding the pigeons while imagining Paris. When my bag of feed was empty, she tried to give me another one. I said no and she said:

Thai lady: 100 Baht
Me: Excuse me?
Thai Lady: 100 Baht. Birds. 100.

I knew she would ask me for money. I tried to haggle but the Chinese folks also paid the same amount. And so that's how I lost 100 Baht to a nice lady and a bunch of pigeons on the street.

Lesson learned: nothing in life is free!

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