Sunday, April 4, 2010

Bangkok Grand Palace, Wat Po & Chatuchak Market

I was sent twice in Bangkok to conduct trainings and consultation on our sister company, but I never had the time to really explore the city of angels. I was quite lucky on my second trip that I had one Saturday afternoon to explore 3 tourist places in Bangkok, before my red eye trip back to Manila on midnight.

At 12:15 pm from my hotel along the Chao Praya river, I rode a commuter boat going to the pier near Grand Palace, for less than THB 10. From the pier and aided by a hotel-provided map of the city, I walked to the right side of the road that leads to the palace, passing some stalls selling souvenirs for tourists.

Along the white walls of the palace, I found a gate which I entered, and the guard stationed there never bothered to stop me. When I saw some tourists having snacks on stores inside, I realized that I entered one of the exit gates of the palace, and I was able to enter the palace compound without shelling out THB 350, because the guard had mistaken me for being a Thai who can enter the palace and all their temples for free.

The intricacy of their structures is a testament of the Thais’ creativity. A Chinese-looking couple asked me to take their picture, which I happily obliged. To reciprocate, they offered to take my photo, but I declined as my camera phone’s screen has poor outdoor screen view at that bright sunny day.

After exploring the palace, I proceeded to Wat Pho while consulting the map on hand. I think I had looked like a lost tourist because when I was in front of their Dept. of Defense building, a Thai man introducing himself as a teacher approached me and told me that Wat Pho is closed and that I should go to their other temples instead. I politely told him that I would check for myself, knowing this modus operandi from the internet travel sites.

When I tried to pay the cashier at Wat Pho’s entrance, she asked me where I’m from as she had also mistaken me as a Thai. I told her that I’m a Filipino and the mistake happens most of the time in Bangkok. She was happy to accept my THB 50 entrance fee. The pagodas inside are covered with broken ceramic tiles salvaged from their ancient ceramic trade with China.

I entered a prayer temple, removing my sandals first, then gave some prayers. Afterwards, I entered the site of Reclining Buddha, again removing my sandals first. I never bothered to try their “sungka” of coins, like what other tourists are doing.

After Reclining Buddha, I went outside to board a taxi and asked the driver to take me to Hualamphong train station. At Saturday afternoon, road traffic was quite heavy so I told the driver to use the fastest route which may include taking longer routes. Along the way, I saw shops selling large figures of Buddha and other souvenir items. At Hualamphong, I rode the subway train that took me to Chatuchak weekend market at past 3 pm.

Chatuchak has plenty of streetfoods which I tried upon entering and before leaving the area. I was able to take a photo of their delicious coconut ice cream served on a small coconut shell, which is very refreshing on hot and humid day.

I was able to buy T-shirts which are slightly cheaper than what I bought before at Patpong, but I noticed that the quality is slightly inferior. The good buy I got was 6 cloth bags with Thai elephant designs for only THB 100, which was half the price of the same bags bought by my wife at Samphran a few days ago, before she went to Singapore.

I was expecting to buy lots of cheap neckties, but their prices are more expensive than in Pratunam market. I would have bought Thai candies and snacks, but I don’t have space on my luggage anymore. I noticed that the farther you go inside the market, the prices tend to be lower. 

At 6 pm when shops started to close their stores, I decided to head back to the hotel to have dinner, pack my baggage, then go to the airport at 9 pm. See the nice view of the river from my room, hehe.

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  1. Wish I could go there someday...

  2. enough po ung chatuchak market for 3 hrs?

    1. Pwede naman ang 3 hours doon kung konti lang bibilhin mo. Pero if its your first time there, di mo maiikot in 3 hours.