(written by Dave)
One last day being tourists in Bangkok. I think I’ve worm Nancy out. We headed for Chinatown today, where there are a few temples, some interesting market streets and one last spot of SE Asia crazy crowds and traffic. When we left the hotel, Nancy commented that we’d seen a lot of temples in the past 3-4 months and that maybe we should just relax. I told here that we could relax on the plane, she soldiered on.
We had to take three trains to reach Chinatown and the third one was the subway. We’ve not tried out the subway yet, only the skyway, but it all worked out. The transit system here in Bangkok is pretty good. It is almost always crowded, even outside peak hour but we never once had to let a train go because it was too full and we were able to get out bikes on (barely) the afternoon we took them to the bike shop. The subway was very easy today, having English and Thai signs, plus very clean and low cost.
The first temple in Chinatown was quite impressive. They have lots of tourist visitors and a wealthy local community – as a result they have built a grand temple. They have one Buddha that is reported to be 5.5 tons of solid gold. By my calculations, this is over $300M, so it does make you question whether it is really solid gold. But that’s what they claim and all the same it is a nice temple.
From the temple we walked various random Chinatown streets. We had an espresso at a Chinese antique store (sitting right in front at a table not really set up for seating – all the locals passing gave us a good look over), we found the gem, fishing gear and shoe stores (all three in great numbers mixed together – strange combo) and finally finished off with one last street vendor pad thai for lunch. Fantastic. The market streets were very narrow, in some cases wide enough for two or three to pass. This didn’t stop the motor scooters and tuk-tuks from using them. This is Asia after all. Shopping here is not for wimps, or those with slow reflexes. Nancy pulled me out of the path of one scooter just in time. And held me back from discussing his driving when we caught up with the driver at the next blockage. No worries – it was really a lot of fun – complete sensory overload but that’s why you go there. I can’t imagine how these people do it all day, every day.
We made our way back to the hotel and finished packing. We are right on the edge of weight limits for Emirates. The taxi out to the airport was fast and efficient and before long we were trying to check in. I say trying because we were more overweight than the hotel scales had indicated. Emirates wanted something over $1,000 USD to cover us. We declined, found the “ship unaccompanied bag office” and sent a bag for a little over $200 USD. Still a lot but at least it was not more than our tickets cost. Funny, according the the freight agent, the bag will now be shipped on Emirates so there is some justice. Add it to the cost of flying these days. Even the baggage friendly airlines really don’t accommodate a touring cyclist unless you fly premium. We’ll have to try something different when we fly next time.
So we’re off. SE Asia has been great but we are ready for the next experience. Our next post with be from the south of France, perhaps even over a nice glass of red wine.