Saturday, August 26, 2017

SE Asia 2017 - Day 12 (8/25/2017) - Temples of Bangkok

Today was a day of temples.  It started around 11am with a quick pop into the Starbucks in the building before leaving the hotel.  I took a tuk-tuk (what they call an auto rickshaw in Thailand) to Wat Traimit (Golden Buddha Temple).  Throughout the day, I tried to not haggle with the tuk-tuk drivers (knowing that most were probably initially asking for much more than they would be willing to accept) - I kinda wanted to just make someone's day, since the fares were pretty cheap anyway from my privileged point of view.  This worked out alright for the most part, but not always.  In any case, the first trip cost 100 baht, or about USD $3.

Wat Traimit (Golden Buddha Temple)

The next temple on the agenda was Wat Arun.  My first attempt to get there was an utter failure, and a bit of a lesson (though I'm not sure I completely learned it) in how to deal with the tuk tuk drivers.  I did learn later on that the government-sanctioned tuk-tuks are the yellow ones, and should generally provide better service.  This guy led me to believe, or maybe I actually misunderstood him, that the trip would cost 100 baht total, including a boat ride on the Chao Phraya River to get there.  He also asked that I do him a favor stop in a tailor store so that he could get a coupon for free gas - I obliged.  I know now for certain that he (and the tuk-tuk drivers in general) get a commission when customers visit (gas coupon) and buy (monetary commission) stuff from the tailors; which is fine.  I suspect that there is a similar arrangement for the long-tail boat company, but I am less certain of that.  I didn't buy anything from the tailor despite their forceful persistence.  And I voiced my displeasure with the driver when he dropped me off, though I paid him the agreed fare anyway.  I stormed out when I found out that the boat ride would be 1500 baht, which I didn't even have in cash on me anyway.

Wat Arun

I hired another tuk-tuk driver to take me to Wat Arun, this time costing me 300 baht as it was even farther away.  After seeing that temple I took the ferry (for a measly 4 baht) across the river to go to Wat Pho.  I found out there, though, that I wouldn't be able to enter in my shorts until 3pm due to ongoing prayers.  The guy who told me this then recommended that I go to a couple of other temples where attire wouldn't be an issue in the meantime, and helped explain the plan to another tuk-tuk driver.

Wat Suthat

This new driver was a young man (of 22 years) named Savin Meesang, though he apparently goes by Golf to Westerners.  He first took me to an ATM so that I could get some cash, then to Wat Suthat, which is open to the public only one day a month (and this day happened to be it for August).  This is also the temple fronted by the Giant Swing, so we swung by that for a quick pic as well.  Of course, he also had to take me to a tailor, though a guy who worked at the temple (but was actually on holiday after recently being married) suggested that I go to PD Mahanakorn Fashion instead of the Thai Export Center that was suggested by the first guy.  Savin took me to PDs, and I actually did end up buying something there - not any custom-made suits like most people usually get, but a pair of paints with a custom design and a shirt (they would deliver it to the hotel the next day).  The next stop was Wat Saket (Golden Mount).  After that we headed for Wat Pho, but his tuk-tuk broke down on the way.  He heartily apologized and handed me off to another tuk-tuk driver.  He wasn't going to charge me anything, especially after the commission from the clothes, but I gave him 200 baht total anyway; he was one of the good ones.

View from Wat Saket

I didn't get off to a great start with the new driver, as he began strongly recommending additional places and boat trips right off the bat.  I sternly let him know that I just wanted to go to Wat Pho, so he relented and took me there.  After Wat Pho I walked over to the Grand Palace, but it was too late enter - it was around 4:30 by this time.  I walked around the palace walls, then went in search of a Thai restaurant for an early dinner.

Wat Pho

I found a place called Ros'niyom, though I actually entered it by accident thinking it was the neighboring restaurant.  This place was more about Thai street food served in a restaurant setting.  As a standard, I tried the Pad Thai (with tofu, though this didn't look like a standard menu option for this dish) - it was decent, but quite small.  I also tried some Longan juice, which was pretty good.  Based on their menu (and my experience thus far in general), it seems more difficult to get vegetarian Thai food in Thailand than in the States.

After dinner I stopped at Creamery next door to try one of their Cookie & Ice Cream combos (a scoop of ice cream on a freshly baked cookie or bakery treat).  After that I took one more tuk-tuk back to the hotel.

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Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/GBb3cDWVzQCR9oyFA

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