Tuesday, August 29, 2017

SE Asia 2017 - Day 14 (8/27/2017) - Grand Palace and National Museum; heading home

The pants and shirt that I had made a couple of days prior were delivered to the hotel this morning, instead of last night.  I picked up a light later morning snack from Starbucks when I went to go pick up the clothes at the concierge.  I left the hotel around 11:30am and took a tuk-tuk to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.  Although not required in any way for tourists, I dressed in black pants and a black shirt today, matching the black outfits worn by the legion of Thai people who came to the palace each day to mourn their king who had died last year.

Wat Phra Kaew

The visit at the palace was not very long, as I was done by 12:30pm.  Most of that time was spent at Wat Phra Kaeo (though pictures were not allowed in the main chapel), with only a walk-by of the palace itself.  After visiting the palace I took my time walking over to the National Museum, even exploring shops on side streets, as I had a whole afternoon to kill.  The museum itself (which is actually spread over a bunch of buildings within the complex) was mostly underwhelming, though the ongoing restoration in the royal carriage garage was pretty cool.

Grand Palace

After the museum I walked back toward the palace, and found a random small restaurant to have a late lunch.  The Pad See Ew from the vegetarian menu (once again, ordering vegetarian was not super straightforward) was a bit dry and somewhat small, but not bad.  After that I killed more time by wandering back to the hotel in Chinatown; I wasn't really interested in trying to see any more temples/sights, and I wasn't super concerned with getting sweaty.  During all my walking, I did try a bottle each of the orange and mango juice that street vendors were selling - both were delicious, and I wish the bottles were bigger.

National Museum - royal carriage garage

I will also voice my displeasure with the guys who hang out around tourist spots, claiming to be "tourist information".  While usually friendly and somewhat informative, they often mislead (and sometimes lie to) you about entry times and requirements; e.g., one told me two days ago that I needed a passport to enter the Grand Palace, and another told me today that visiting was closed at the time due to ongoing prayers.  They recommend other sites for you to visit in the meantime, seemingly in an attempt to increase both the tuk-tuk business and the fashion business.  My advice for someone visiting Bangkok would be to do a bit of research ahead of time and know what places you want to visit, as well as the entry times and requirements (e.g., clothing); then you can pretty much ignore everyone (drivers, touts, hotel concierges, etc.) who tries to give you recommendations.

Back at the hotel I took a shower and relaxed until 8:45pm, at which point I checked out and hailed an Uber to the airport to begin the journey back home.  I almost had a bit of a scare when the Korea Air agent told me that my seat was not confirmed for the 12:10am flight to Seoul, but she resolved the situation and I was on my way without further issue.  Another noteworthy (and perhaps unfortunate, but not really) happening was that I had probably my favorite meal in Thailand at the airport on the way out - Tom Yum Fried Rice at a place called Silom Village; though I will mildly complain that their pineapple juice was quite watered down.

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

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