Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tourista #2 - How to get lost

Bangkok's Chinatown is the biggest in the world, and I got lost in it - on purpose! Which is super fun until you have to pee.
Some shops I walked by while drinking a massive bottle of water.

What's that? A panda?

More pandas.

And here's the shoe district.

All shoes!


And the Indian gem section. 

Indian gem section continued.
After the gem section, I asked a couple people on the street if there was a toilet anywhere, and they pointed me to the temple.

Monk eating lunch.

I took some photos of the temple because I didn't want to be rude, as in, I'm only here because I heard you might have a toilet, who cares about the Buddhas.  
I asked a younger monk if there was a bathroom, which is probably not something you should ask a monk, and he pointed in a random direction and said, "ten minutes." So, I continued my search.

Multitasking, I take pictures while searching for the bathroom.
What's that? A panda on a box of bamboo fungus.

Street food.

I usually manage to find the industrial district wherever I go, which always reminds me of my Dad and makes me homesick.

Sorting nuts. They look pre-coated to me. No need for galvanizing!
After a good hour of random wandering in Bangkok's oven with no bathroom finding success, I became a bit desperate, and it must have shown. A lady, cooking lunch in front of her shop/house, called over her daughter, who spoke English, who asked me what I needed, and then let me use their private washroom. She gave me a coke and we talked about the neighbourhood and how a lot of the old buildings have been torn down. Then she showed me where I was and where to go, I finished my coke, and she bid me adieu.

Street where the nice people lived.
Feeling refreshed, I tackled Chinatown once more.
It's rather busy.

:( :(

Many gold shops!

This one is endorsed by Disney!

What, another panda! Look how clever she is, driving away while the other animals clearly don't have licenses. 

Chinese temple. 
I've discovered that when I need help - a bathroom, directions, an escort home, my picture taken in front of a monument, a smile after a bout of sunstroke - I always find it, usually in the form of helpful women on scooters and German couples offering to photograph me. This more than makes up for the dodgy effing Tuk Tuk and taxi drivers. Ahem. Anyway, continuing with my day...

I decided to eat lunch at a vegan restaurant which is currently rated #1 in Bangkok on tripadvisor. It was just meh - I had a terriyaki vegan burger (I'd wanted the Japanese curry, but they were out). The sandwich was a bit greasy. But, I did get to explore a neighbourhood I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise.

I took the water bus. It was super! 

Hindu temple - kind of jarring, seeing it in Bangkok.


Back on the water bus.
After two days in Bangkok, I needed to get out. So on Friday I headed to Ayutthaya, a world heritage site featuring ruins. Ayutthaya was the largest centre in SE Asia until 1767 when the Burmese sacked the city. 

I trained it there, rented a bicycle, and sweated out most of my fluids for a good half day of historical fun. Being a huge nerd, I did the audio tour ( I was the only one), which was full of great facts, most of which I don't remember because of sunstroke, but which fascinated me at the time.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet. I cannot describe how hot is was.

They look how I felt. 

I'm hot and tired. Wah. 

Lovely German couple offered to take my picture. 

I'm the blue dots up there.
I had to be pretty economical with my time - the historical park is pretty big. Quick, on to Wat Mahathat!

Famous Buddha image in tree roots. 

After temple #2, I decided to be ambitious and bike off the island to another temple!
At this point, I'm lost but I don't know it.  Water is pretty!

Photos from the road. 

Maybe I should have taken an elephant. I decide to abandon finding my way off the island.

Another photo from the road. 

And now I'm completely lost.
I asked a number of innocent Thai people on the street if they could find my location on the map (written in both Thai and English, I should add). And...no one could. I imagine I might have frightened a few of them -pushing my map at them while sweating profusely and grimacing. Sorry, nice Thai people.

After circling around and around and around in the heat, on an empty stomach, with a bike to return, and a train to catch, I finally managed to find... a German couple, who gave me directions. 

Returning to Bangkok, I wanted nothing to do with heat or sweating or sightseeing. So, Saturday I went shopping. There are no pictures. I am a focused shopper. I will say this: go to Siam Square for clothes if you like vintage/hipster/new designer wear. Avoid MBK unless you want a headache, tourist fatigue, or cheap electronics. Siam Centre is super if you have cash. Siam Paragon is great if you want a Lamborghini.

I'm not in Bangkok anymore. I spent yesterday in Petchaburi having a wonderful time on a bicycle and at a temple fair. Now I'm by the sea. I'm here to do nothing but rest (although there is a temple on a big hill...maybe) before heading back to Bangkok in a couple days, when I will conquer Chatuchak market. And then, home.

I leave you with pictures of Bangkok at night, from the 53 bus. That's right, tuk tuk drivers, I don't need you!

Traffic jam.

We're in the flower market!