Upon our arrival the hotel staff was friendly. The kids were quickly offered balloons and lollipops. The pool was of course the kids favorite.
a brief note.
I have linked a lot of the main sites to wikipedia entries. I don't want to include a whole lot of historical detail on the blog if people aren't interested. If you are a quick click on the highlighted words should satisfy your questions.
Our first day the Grand Palace was on the agenda. My impression as we walked around was that Bangkok is a popular post-Christmas destination. I was glad we made the decision for the boys to wear long pants and Jane and I to wear skirts and covered shoulders. A strict dress code is enforced on the palace grounds and there was a long line of people who needed to rent extra clothing.
We were warned in the tour book about schemes where people tell you the palace is closed. We were approached by a man that had a badge that said tourism police. He told us the palace is closed until 1pm due to buddha's birthday. He proceeds to ask our plan for the day, looks at our map then begins to suggest a tuk tuk. At this point we stop him, politely refuse and continue our walk. Hoping he is wrong and we are being savvy. We eventually stumble upon the main entrance of the palace. There is a big sign at the main entrance that clearly states the palace is open everyday from these hours. Obviously the tourism police was not positioned there.
Seeing the replica of Angkor Wat, I began to get excited about our next destination
We took a a boat along the Chaya river. It moved a little faster than the Star Ferry here in HK. Elliot snacked on some seaweed flavor chips. Not only do they stink(at least to everyone else in the family but brother) they leave a sticky seaweed mess.
Wat Arun/ Temple of the dawn is an impressive site from the river
Mcdonald's had a delicious chicken and rice set meal, the kids liked it as much as burgers. It was also a novelty to find the soft ice creams dipped in the hardened chocolate shell. Elliot didn't quite mimic the traditional Thai greeting. I assume that could be quite offensive if it was an actual response to the greeting.
Our hotel was located near the Sky train. We were a little frustrated that concessionary tickets( child tickets) could only be purchased from the office counter not machines. But overall it was clean, efficient, safe and a great alternative to the traffic. That being said The Hong Kong MTR system and London Tube still appear to be the best subway systems we have encountered. We also took the local Metro system which is underground.
The most exciting mode of transportation was the Tuk Tuk. Almost inseparable from and idea of Bangkok we only had one tuk tuk ride. We are used to bartering here in HK at markets, so haggling over a ride didn't seem that different. Bangkok is not a very pedestrian friendly city and I was thankful to have the ride to the sky train to avoid the walking. It was fast paced, and a lot of fun.
The Thai people are very strict on preserving their cultural icons. At many places we could only get photos from the outside. Such as the Vimanmek Mansion. The largest golden teakwood structure built without nails. The Throne Hall located on the Dusit palace grounds. Which was built in this grand Italian cathedral design. You could only enter the buildings with wallets. Every thing else purses, water, cell phones were collected and locked up for a small fee. At the mansion we were scanned an additional time before being allowed inside to walk around. Ivory tusk and Elephant feet were some of the more interested room decor we encountered.
We had anticipated the Snake farm being a highlight with the kids and I believe it was. Thailand can boast as being one of the first places where serious devotion to cures for snake bites was cultivated. The royalty even got involved and helped to establish a well-know institution dedicated to the study of snakes and anti-venom making.
Elliot's favorite was the Mexican milk snake. The kids purchased wooden snakes. Jane's made a couple of the guards jump at the Dusit palace.
As we sat to have a refreshing drink, I spotted a brown toad huddled in the corner of a cabinet. Where else can a frog be safe on a snake farm?
We found a noodle stall near our hotel and spent $1.33 for a really good lunch.
Here is a video highlighting our trip to Bangkok.