We met Pauline and Martin at the airport. They had flown in from Sydney, us from Cambodia. What a wonderful reunion!
Although Pauline had recommended we stay in the city center, we had already taken someone else’s insistent advice that we would want a quiet luxury spot with a river view and booked a self-catering apartment at Chatrium down the river from the center that offered free water taxi service. Big mistake. The water taxi ran on a schedule that didn’t exactly coincide with ours and didn’t take us within walking distance of most places we wanted to go and so we ended up using taxis and the sky train. Side note: the river view room that we booked turned into a view of a demolished building with a slice of river view if we stood in a remote corner of the sitting room. Will we ever learn? Probably not.
OK, so we’re over that. We set out to explore Bangkok with friends who actually knew the place. We came to enjoy and dislike Bangkok on many levels.
The highlights of our group holiday:
Having a delicious dinner at the funky restaurant, “Cabbages and Condoms”, where instead of after dinner mints you are given a condom.
Walking curiously and timidly down the short sleazy red light street just to get a look at the rumored young girls/prostitutes and Lady Boys who would perform bizarre sex acts inside the bars (that we were unwilling to enter for because of a deep-seated, guilt-ridden southern Bible Belt upbringing). Many of our cruiser friends had submitted to curiosity and had gone to the sex shows in Phuket. None of us could get up the nerve to go in for a show, pay the $60 each for a watered down drink to watch a girl shoot darts, ping pong balls and strange slithery creatures out of her private parts. As we emerged onto the main drag at the end of the street we felt slimy and in need of a shower.
Parking the men at the Hard Rock Café while shopping with Pauline and running all over town together to the Jim Thompson Museum, the huge malls with outrageous fashion designs, visiting trendy hotels where Pauline can charm us into looking at rooms as though we are considering hosting an event there someday, having girl-time over coffee, getting lost and just laughing like kids because we enjoy each other’s company so much.
Because Martin and Pauline had been here many times they told us to take a riverboat tour and go see the palace while they took care of some personal business. We did, and after several stops had grown weary of the temples and Buddhas. Finally arriving at the stop for the palace, we walked a country mile to the entrance only to be told that we were at the wrong entrance and also that the palace was closed for a special event but due to reopen in an hour. A little man in a taxi cart told us he would take us around to the entrance side. We got into his cart and off he dashed through town taking us on a long and confusing drive. The entire time, I’m leaning up into his ear insisting that he was going the wrong way, and that the entrance could not possibly be this far! Frank was punching me and telling me to relax. I kept saying we were being hijacked. Eventually, the driver stopped in front of a jewelry shop and told us to go inside. Frank jumped out, and I grabbed his arm saying, “This is a hoax! I don’t want jewelry, this guys is scamming us!” The little man became very angry with me and started pushing us along saying we must enter the shop. I went in, used the bathroom and walked back out to the taxi cart. The man was livid that I didn’t look at jewelry. Frank is meanwhile playing peacekeeper, accepting a cup of tea inside the shop. I insisted that the man take us back to the palace. He refused saying we owed him more money but if we go to see the giant Buddah and take his tour then he would return us to the palace. Frank said OK; I fumed. We were driven even farther into the belly of Bangkok to a religious site with a giant Buddha. We got out, trying to be nice snapped some photos and then I said we were ready to go back to the palace. He refused again. So I hailed a cab. We paid a fortune to get back to the palace. The cab dropped us at the same spot we had departed from over an hour earlier where we were immediately set upon by more people telling us the palace was closed...yada, yada, yada. We were so hot and annoyed we walked back to the boat dock and caught the tour boat back to the hotel. Later that night I read my friend, Judy’s blog and found that they had also been taken for a “ride” in the same manner. Should have read her blog beforehand.
We flew out the next day ready to leave Bangkok but not ready to leave Pauline and Martin. We said our teary goodbyes and boarded our return flight to Krabi (Phuket).