Crossing the road is a hazard…not all cars stop at red lights
I didn’t like Bangkok very much. Lots of traffic, chaos, pollution and someone trying to get you to part with your money at every corner. One morning I went to visit Wat Saket, the Golden Mount. At the ticket office I was served by two cute school girls who spoke some English. As you go up to the top, you come across bells of different sizes and you are supposed to ring them for good luck or to make a wish. I didn’t know and made my wish on my way down, let’s just hope this doesn’t turn my wish upside down! There are over 300 steps and it takes a while to get to the top. Nearly there I turned around and there were the two girls again asking politely if they could speak to me and practice their English. They gave me a tour and in broken English asked questions about where I came from, my holiday and things like that. Then they thanked me and sweetly said goodbye.
On the first day I walked to the Grand Palace from my hotel. It was very disorganised. I was keen to buy a guided tour but it proved impossible. Every time I asked anyone they just herded me toward the next step of the visitor’s conveyor belt with the promise that I would find it there, which turned out to be untrue. None of that disinterest was present however when it came to clothing. We were all scrutinised at several stages of the entrance process as to whether our attire was respectful enough to enter. I saw several women wearing tank tops with a scarf draped around their shoulders who were turned away as were several men whose shorts were deemed too revealing. If only staff had exerted the same zeal at helping visitors though. The entire entrance process took forever. Inside it was very crowded and some of the parts were hard to admire as you were jostled by one or another. I did however, turn at some stage within the compound and found myself in an almost deserted area. It was most gratifying to enjoy the amazing buildings and decorations practically by myself. Not only were they stunning but the detail was extraordinary. At some point, tired, I sat down under a big tree and rested awhile. It was a very peaceful.
During my visit to Wat Pho it started to rain. And I mean pour. I took shelter under one of the doorways to a side street in the hope of catching a taxi and met a Spanish couple who were doing the same. When we looked at the map we realised that we were going in a similar direction and decided to share a taxi when it eventually came. We explained to the driver that we needed two stops, negotiated and got in. Once inside, it became apparent that falling prey to the scam of tomorrow everything is closed, their first tuk-tuk had taken them to a travel agency where they later realised they had left their phone. They were hoping to retrieve it but could not remember exactly where the agency was and asked if we could go first to their stop as they were not sure they could communicate with the driver. When I tried to explain to the driver that we wanted to reverse the order of our stops he shouted “I know where go, you not talk”. And that was that. I hope they found their phone