December 5, 2012
We had another early night, so both of us ended waking up very early. Like 2am early. Since neither of us could go back to sleep, we decided to walk around. The neighborhood around our guesthouse, usually a busy place, was eerily quiet. The night before, Chandler had wandered into the fringes of the “backpackers ghetto” area of town and I was curious to see what was going on there. Bad idea. The place was miserable. The place was crawling with drunken westerners of all sorts generally behaving like idiots. It was a little embarrassing to even take in the spectacle. We got some pad thai from a street vendor and headed back to our very quiet street and hotel. (Thanks for the suggestion Tara)
We spent an hour reading before we ventured out again. Our taxi driver from the airport told us there would be a parade and celebration today for the King’s birthday, so we headed towards the royal palace. However we didn’t get the memo about what do wear. Everyone, let me emphasize EVERYONE, unless dressed in a military uniform, was wearing a yellow shirt. We already stick out as tall white people, but to not know the dress code didn’t help things. The yellow color represents the King’s birth color, tied to the day of the week he was born. As we found out later, my blue shirt was probably OK because that color represents support for the Queen. Chandlers black shirt on the other hand may not have been the best choice. At least it wasn’t red, which represents the political opposition here.
We were in the main area which was becoming more crowded and warm. There were some rousing volleys of what we assumed was something like “Long Live the King” prompted by a remote controlled tricopter with a camera mounted to it hovering over the crowd.
When nothing happened for awhile, we decided to move on to our next destination: Chinatown.
Chinatown was very crazy with vendors everywhere. There was an unbelievable variety of plastic crap available. Chandler kept trying to buy a pair of sandals, but the shop keepers would only offer 10+ packs, and after a while we figured out that most of the shops were wholesale only. After wandering around for a bit, we decided to move on to Wat Pho. Wat Pho is home to the reclining Buddha. This Buddha is huge, 43m long and 15m high.
The rest of the temple grounds were also beautiful and much less busy than the reclining Buddha room.
After the reclining Buddha, it was time for a nap. We had already been awake for 12h and with the heat and humidity, it was time for a break. I took a short nap back at the guesthouse while Chandler got some lunch. We spent the rest of the night packing our panniers and planning a route. We wanted to leave the next day early in the morning while it is still dark and little traffic, but discovered I didn’t have a tail light and Chan’s bike computer was dead. Oh well, one more day in Bangkok.