Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bangkok

Floating market outside of the city.

Stumbling down the long busy corridors of the Bangkok airport, trying to rein the kids in and keep them as close as possible after a long nap in the air, I felt confident that our traveling business man would have a car waiting to deliver us to the hotel.  Exactly what hotel that is, I'm not sure.  I didn't pay attention to what he may or may not have told me, prior to his departure earlier in the day, because I was that confident there would be a driver waiting on the other side of immigration.

We fly through immigration with the help of our 2 wild card children that most officers don't want screaming in line and glance around.  Half expecting our driver to jump out in front of us, half expecting to walk through the airport briefly, before we find him.

I see no sign with my name, or what I vaguely recall him staying at during his previous trips to the city ~ Sheraton.  Keep walking, nothing.  Other companies are hawking us now, giving us numbers, telling us about their luxury air-conditioned cars running outside, waiting for us.  Still, I don't see our sign.  Turn around, keep walking.  Children are getting even more restless.

We get to the end of the corridor, where people are scarce.  Dig out my cell phone, that luckily seems to work and try ringing our reliable other half.  He tells me to look for a sign that reads, "Sheraton".  Yes, we did and there is not one. 

He gets a hold of the concierge and puts me through to him, as we slowly make our way back to the chaos.  Turns out, we are at the correct gate, correct door and correct corral that our Sheraton sign should be standing and still, I do not see it. 

From the back of a crowded corral of sign holders I see a small lady, eyes shut, leaning against the back gate holding a clipboard.  Something startles her and she jumps, as I spot on the backside of the clipboard "Sheraton". 

Her phone was ringing.  The hotel must have been calling her to inform her we were searching for her.  Turns out, the hotel cancelled our car, because our traveling business man had already checked-in.  Figures. 

Welcome to Bangkok ~ the city of angels!

Rama VIII Bridge over the Chao Phraya River.

It can only get better...if only our fill-in driver knew where to drop guests at the correct hotel.  We walk into the hotel and still do not see our other half.  Dig out my mobile phone yet again racking up the international roaming charges, and he says he is standing in the main lobby.  Hmmmm...I have no idea what that means, when suddenly he emerges down a staircase from the main lobby to the Tour Group basement lobby, where we are standing ~ lost.

Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

So far, I hate Bangkok and it's monstrous billboards engulfing the freeway.  I am excited that it is dinner time and I am in Thailand, where I can find the most incredible food the world has to offer.  The hotel restaurant doesn't let me down and I am suddenly feeling optimistic about what tomorrow will bring.

We got off to a slow, late start, but we did get signed up for some hotel tours for the following couple days.  They will bring us to most of the places on our list.  I typically don't like to do too many of the hotel tours, because the days tend to be very long for the kids.  In this case, we only have a few days to get it all in and it is the hottest/driest time of the year here, so an air-conditioned car will be nice to have waiting.


Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

Elephant rides at Wat Na Phra Mane.

We decide on the floating markets, a few temples, the palace, a river boat cruise and whatever else came with the random stops the tour made. The Dragon Boat ride through the floating market was one of the highlights.  It was only about 20-minutes of cruising around the canals, peeking in on everyday life of the local homes on stilts, but it was unique.

The local Thai people selling their goods from motorless dragon boats, as the sun gets higher in the sky.  Like us, all hoping to be done before it gets too hot to breathe.

Riding the canals in a dragon boat.

This face sums up the long day and exhaustion from the heat. At the Bang Pa-In Palace (Royal Summer Palace).

City view from our room at the Sheraton Sukhumvit

One evening, we attempted to drag the kids out into the Patpong Night Market.  By the tenth, "mommy I'm going to spit up!" We found a tuk-tuk to get us home, before we could even feel the market atmosphere of Bangkok.  The next night, the traveling business man and our guest traveler, Brody, went back with a list of things for me, as I stayed behind with the kids in our air-conditioned hotel room, ready for sleep.

They did good finding treasures for us to take home.  They even stopped into the Tailor and had a couple suits made-up for themselves.  Impressive! but, don't get too used to doing the shopping...that's my job! :-)
Ayutthaya buddha head.

Bangkok, truly is an incredible place.  It has so much to offer from temples and historical stories, to fabulous, affordable shopping.  I left really enjoying the city and wanting to take in more...later in the year maybe. When it isn't so hot.

Ayutthaya ruins.

Ayutthaya ruins - a World Heritage Site.

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