We had heard varying reports on the flooding in Bangkok- Lauren has a friend there who said things were drying out but then we also heard a rumor that they were planning to release some water into the city to relieve some of the pressure on other areas, so we weren't really sure what to do for the day. The floating markets seemed to be out, which made me sad, but I guess taking a small wooden boat on the river during a flood is generally not the best idea. At the airport we saw a tour company and thought that might be our safest bet- they would know better than us what areas were still flooded. So we signed up for the Great Bangkok Travel Co. tour of Temples & Shopping.
The beginning part of the tour was actually pretty cool and very informative. Since we hadn't planned to spend any time in Bangkok because of the flooding, I hadn't so much as read a wikipedia article about it, so it was nice to have our own private guide giving us the history, answering our questions and identifying important structures.
First he took us to Wat Traimit Wittayarama, or the Traimit Royal Temple. This is the temple of the Golden Buddha.
And also a place to throw a coin & make a wish....you could hear mine spinning around and around the metal dish, so I figure that must be ridiculously lucky.
Before we headed back out, we took the opportunity to grab our last Thai iced teas in all their delicious orange, tamarind, gloriousness.
We then stopped at Wat Pho- home of the reclining buddha. I had no idea the size of this thing- it's huge! 46 meters long, that's a lot of feet (you do the math)....I don't know what I was expecting, but certainly not this:
Then we strolled around the grounds for awhile. Wat Pho is the oldest & largest wat in Bangkok and has the most number of Buddha images in Thailand- I probably have pictures of every single one but I will spare you and just post the "thai-lights" haha.
It was then time for the "shopping" portion of the tour which was not so cool, as we were shuttled to various merchants who stalked us around their stores and tried to convince us that we needed to buy rubies and silk scarves and have suits made for us. After politely telling people no to things for about an hour, we were released and walked around Bangkok for awhile.
This guy, not so concerned about the flooding......who knew sandbags make great throw pillows? Spoiler alert- my whole family is getting these for xmas.
Other people proclaimed sandbags to be child's play and erected their own concrete barricades outside their stores to prevent water from coming in.
The traffic was pretty crazy- I think the city feels really alive because of all the brightly colored cabs. New York could do with a dose of hot pink Hondas to get us around.
Tuk tuks galore!
The shoulder of the "super" highway (everything's better in Thailand) was turned into a parking lot of busses and cars to keep them safe from flooding. Just a single file line of cars as far as you could see.
Lauren was continuing on to Bali but her flight wasn't leaving until the next morning and ours was at 1am so she got a hotel room near the airport & Amanda and I decided to relax there for a bit. On the way to Lauren's hotel, we saw the best sunset of the entire trip....this was the kind of thing I was imagining over the ocean lol.
There we did some more shopping, picked up some final pandan flavored snacks at the 7-11, and because we were in Bangkok, went to a show-the details of which I cannot describe on a blog that my mother reads lol. Let's just say I was traumatized enough afterward to need the deluxe rotee with banana, egg, chocolate, condensed milk, and sugar. Having completed the Bangkok checklist, we headed back to the airport.
We were concerned our flight to Beijing might be cancelled, because that's how I usually roll when returning from a trip & we had seen two other flights to Beijing on the board with that horrifying little red message next to them, but we made it on and landed with no problems. It was 34 degrees in Beijing, both inside and outside the airport, which made the 5 hour, middle of the night, layover super delightful.
Two things of interest on the flight from Beijing to NYC-
1. Two grown men got into a yelling match because one of them apparently repeatedly and intentionally jostled the other sitting in front of him on all six of the times that he got up. Yelling turned into tattling to the flight attendant, who clearly spoke minimal English and had not a clue what was going on or what to do about it besides nod. In the end, the jostle-ee proclaimed if it happened again, he wanted the air marshall called and after that I spent the rest of the flight secretly hoping it would happen again.
2. The man sitting next to me ate some sort of salty nuts for about an hour. Apparently after consuming each of these nuts, your fingers need to be licked individually in a way that I can only compare to the slurping of a St. Bernard drinking from the toilet. It was so ridiculous and went on for so long that Amanda and I were crying actual tears of laughter. I think he may have also been allergic to them, as after every third nut he had a coughing fit while I pondered how I was going to mime "epi pen" to the flight attendant after his throat closed up.
I left for Thailand 12 days ago, I blinked, and now I'm back in NY. It seems unreal that in that short amount of time I spent a day in China, swam in some of the most beautiful waters imaginable, danced til dawn on the beach, launched lanterns with monks, rode an elephant, touched tigers, learned to cook Thai food and met a ton of incredible people in between. I feel so lucky & can't wait to see where my next travel adventure takes me....