We woke up early on our second day in Bangkok. After a showers , tea and toast (the American dream breakfast) we sat down to form a plan. Bangkok was not our favorite (as expected) so we decided to head to the train station to book our spots on the overnight train to Chiang Mai.
Since we woke up so early we had time to walk to Khao San road and back before catching a taxi to Hua Lamphong Railway Station. I have never received so much attention my life Men offering tshirts, women offering bracelets. Tuk tuk drivers grabbing our arms trying to convinve us they just wanted to talk but really trying to coax us into buying a driver for the day. My advice would be to wait til there is a decent number of people out before walking down the road so you attract less attention.
We quickly walked back to our hostel, grabbed our things and jumped in another pink taxi. Our driver dropped us off, not in front of the train station, but in front of his friends tourism shop across the street where they insisted we had to buy tickets there and we kindly thanked him and said no. The great news is that buying tickets inside the station was quite easy. The ticket counter was clearly marked, there were plenty of workers standing around to direct us and the people at the window spoke English very well.
We grabbed our tickets for a sleeper compartment on the air con car of the train for 881 THB. Next we dropped of our bags at “left baggage” for 70 THB each and hopped in a tuk tuk to the Grand Palace.
The Grand Palace
In order to enter the Grand Palace you have to wear long pants or a long skirt and a sleeved top. A very fun outfit considering the steaming heat of Bangkok. We had brought a change of clothes in our bags but turns out a maxi dress and shaw didn’t count so I had to go all the way back to the front to rent a shirt for 200 THB. Fortunately they return the money after you return the clothes. So I grabbed a big ugly green button up and channeled my inner Britney circa “Oops I Did It Again..”
For 500 THB we got three tickets. One for the temples, one for a museum and one for a gallery of royal coins and regalia. We entered the main complex and started exploring the temples and shrines. The main attraction here was the emerald buddha but I was most impressed by the amazing detail and color on every building.
To enter a temple you must first remove your shoes. I knew this of course, but it is still something to get used to. By the time we finished the Grand Palace temples we were hot, tired and hungry. After returning my rented shirt we headed out to find a place to eat. We were hoping to find street food but Bangkok can be a bit overwhelming. We settled on a busy little restaurant across the street and had to climb stairs that were practically a diagonal ladder up to the second floor. I got green curry and Maggie got chicken and rice with chili and cashew sauce that was delicious. And I finally tried papaya salad! A bit spicy but refreshing and good. We sat and took in the AC for nearly an hour and a half.
After lunch we headed out to find the other temple nearby, Wat Pho, where the reclining buddha is housed. We got stuck behind a street cart that smelled horrible but quickly ducked past and found a nice man who told us to walk 1 kilometer down the road. We chose the side without all the vendors and quickly made it to the temple. Entrance to this one was only 100 THB.
We were thoroughly shocked by the size of this guy. I’ve seen pictures but there are none that can really do it justice. I happily got away with wearing my shaw into this one. This building was by far the hottest place we’d been yet. Otherwise there would have been a few more photos.
You enter at the head and walk down towards his feet. Once you circle his feet the clinking sound of metal gets louder. Visitors may donate 20 THB to get a dish of coins that they then drop into bowls hung all along the wall until you reach the exit creating the bright clinking noise.
Outside the temples are covered in intricate tiling and flowers in deep oranges and turquoise. I can’t begin to imagine how long these took to create.
Although hot, this compound was very peaceful and quiet. Definitely my favorite of the two. Unlike the Grand Palace where you walk in a full circle to view each of the temples, this compound was connected by so many doors and hallways that it was easy to loose ourselves inside. The repetition didn’t help either. We would turn a corner that looked like we were back where we started only to find a detail proving we were somewhere new.
Wat Pho was closing down so we jumped in another tuk tuk and told the driver to head to the only place we really know, Khao San Road. He dropped us off right outside the Green House where we had eaten the day before and since we needed to book a hostel in Chiang Mai we popped in for some spring rolls and free wifi before taking another tuk tuk back to the train.
At the train station we grabbed our backpacks and headed to platform 03 only to find our train wasn’t there yet. The tracks are all lined up with purple trains blowing hot steam into the air. When it finally rolled in we hopped on to find total darkness and heat. I heard another traveler shout, hey didn’t we pay extra for the air con? My thoughts exactly. Turns out the electricity cut off and without it there would be no AC.
You know what it feels like in a sauna? Yeah, that’s exactly how I would describe this experience. You could feel the thickness in the air and sweat was rolling off our skin. An hour later they got the lights back on and the AC slowly kicked in. We didn’t even wait for the train to start rolling to fall asleep.
The good news is that when working properly the AC is quite effective. Too cold actually. So I woke in the middle of the night to put on some warmer clothing.
We slept almost the entire train ride and got up only long enough to eat some cookies and Cheez Its. Giving American travelers a bad name wherever we go… This is almost as bad as when I ate potato chips for breakfast on my flight from Paris to Munich.