Three nights in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster

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:

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This grandma and her granddaughter make flower offerings to purchase for home and public temples. If you smell the flowers, you offend the gods for whom they’re meant.
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A river merchant waving to us. This way of life, in which bank boats ride out to do business with customers and markets float down the river, may be on its way to extinction as the Sky Train draws nearer. Once mass transit reaches the river bank, the property will become valuable and it will be sold for businesses and high rises.
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A pool of catfish were literally jumping out of the river as we floated passed. Impressive and a little freaky at the same time.
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A Chinese pagoda along the river.
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A typical river house on which I noted both the day’s laundry hanging out to dry and a satellite dish.
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Bangkok is known as the Venice of the east, due to its canal system.
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I found the home temples very charming. This one is along a very busy street in an area that does triple duty as a laundry room, garage, and shrine.
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I just got a kick out of this mailbox — Bangkok and Other Places.
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I don’t have time to due justice to the fascinating story of Jim Thompson, his influence on the silk industry in Thailand, and his mysterious Jimmy Hoffa-like disappearance, but we did enjoy a quick visit to the Jim Thompson house.
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The temple opulence blew us away.
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This is a close up of a shrine in Wat Phra Kaew.
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Wat Phra Kaew, home of the Emerald Buddha, is so beautiful it takes your breath away.
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The Loha Prasat Temple, home of the Golden Buddha.
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Another view of Wat Phra Kaew.
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This is the royal palace, at which the King used to ride an elephant for royal appearances. It is undergoing renovations ahead of the current king’s coronation.
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You’ve got to respect the Buddha.
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The Reclining Buddha is so long I could not get it in a single shot, which is a shame because, at that point in our day, I really identified with him.
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A collection of Buddhas from around the world.
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I’m just including this picture because I like that King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) enjoyed photography.
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Pretty spiffy little city when it puts on its evening coat, am I right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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