Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bangkok | Thailand | Day 1

After spending a few days at home in Jakarta, we were off again! We woke up extra early to catch a taxi to the airport for our 7 am flight. Unfortunately, as we took off, the plane made a very loud noise which continued throughout our ascent. After about 45 minutes, the pilot made an announcement that we would be landing back in Jakarta in 30 minutes. Two things about this situation were frightening, especially in light of the fact I had just watched a documentary on plane crashes. First, we were circling over the ocean, so low down that we could almost see people standing on the oil platforms below. But, more disconcerting than that, the stewards began walking around and visually checking that every person was in fact wearing a seatbelt. If you've ever flown Air Asia, you know that safety is not the top priority and understand why that would be a red flag! Despite the circumstances, we landed back in Indonesia without a scratch and were immediately transfered to another plane which put us promptly in the air once again (again, not normal for Indonesia).

I don't normally talk about the hotels that I stay in on here, generally because they're not too exciting. But I especially loved this particular hotel that we stayed at in Chinatown. It's called Shanghai Mansion. It had loads of personality and some of the best hospitality I've experienced in Southeast Asia; they even supplied business cards with a little map since it was off the beaten path!

After taking a moment to refresh, we immediately headed out to see the city. We started off at the Grand Palace. We made it just before they closed the ticket office! Apparently the complex started off as one building and buildings then grew around it. It was quite the complex! We even ran into the US Secretary of the Interior, who was preparing for Obama's visit to Bangkok (we missed him by one day).

From the Grand Palace, we headed down to the river, where we took a longboat tour of the city's waterways. This tour was particularly interesting because the waterline from last year's flooding (which prevented our earlier attempt at a trip) was easily visible from our vantage point on the boat. Since the water took about a month to recede, the damage was great. It was interesting to see how entire communities had formed off of a single waterway.

From the river, we headed to Wat Pho to see Big Buddha. It was rather impressive. First, the Buddha was constructed and then the temple was built up around it.

On a side note, if you're planning to visit Bangkok, I would highly reccomend the services of Chob! He supplied is with Ms. Pu who was an excellent guide to the city. She crammed A LOT into our short stay in Bangkok and was very accomodating after watiting at our hotel for an hour an half during our flight delay!

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