I took three showers on my first day in Bangkok, and was politely invited to take a fourth.
“Perhaps Madam would like to take a shower and rest up before dinner?”
Madam did not. Too much to do, too much to see.
We opted for a quick bite in the bistro instead, and then I took my camera back out and followed it around one of the most fascinating river towns I’d ever seen.
Thailand is hot and so humid my hair shape-shifted into crazy cartoon characters. Even my camera sweated and I had to pause occasionally to clear off the steam.
But, man oh man, did we enjoy the show.
The Chao Praya River flows through Bangkok and teems with life. Fishing boats, water taxis, barges, tugboats and cruise boats criss-cross the river in a mesmerizing pattern, cheerful by day, elegant by night.
We saw two Monitor Lizards corner a grey heron on a river bank and watched hundreds of catfish jumping.
But, the real stars of that beautiful country are its people. Warm, friendly and spiritual, the Thai people embrace life with a contagious enthusiasm. Stunning temples rise in golden testament to a culture rich in religion and royalty. Backyard spirit shrines offer ancestral respite, dignity, coconuts and cool drinks.
Though the Thai government situation is complicated, especially following a military coup in 2014, the Thai people love their king. This devotion is encouraged by the ruling junta and pictures and tributes to the royal family abound.
You may have heard of the beloved Thai King Mongkut, remembered as much for his social reforms as for his virility. King Monghut fathered at least 82 children by 32 wives and was immortalized in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, the King and I.
His grandson, the current Thai king Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, accepted the throne on the death of his father in 2016, but has yet to be coronated.
We learned all of this from our Thai guide, Annie, who provided wonderful insights into a country she dearly loves.
I’ll stop now because I took way too many pictures and I haven’t even begun to address the nightlife.
Here are a few photos from our time in Thailand: