|It was dark and rainy when we arrived at Bangkok's outdated airport. We didn't have to wait long for our $2.50 bus to the city to arrive, but once we were on it seeemed to wait for a long time as more and more backpackers piled on. The ride took over an hour, which was not helped by the stop and go traffic for half of it. It was still raining when we got off at the infamous Khao San Road, the 'backpacker's ghetto.' We did not have a far walk to our guest house, but still managed to see plenty of the madness. Many stands stocked with bottles advertising 'very strong cocktails, we don't check ID,' lots of pirated CDs and DVDs, lots of shady looking travel agents, touts asking us if we wanted tailored suits, dingy looking guesthouses every other door...Luckily our place is down an alley at the end of the road and is lovely. It is small, clean, comfortable, the staff is very kind, the cafe serves good food, and it is quiet except for the short loop of 80's soft rock hits that plays over and over at night.
Yesterday we walked through the humidity and pollution to the City Pillar, an open space with many beautiful small temples that represents the cornerstone of the old city. After that we walked to the Royal Palace. As we got close a large team of tuk-tuk (motorcycle taxis) drivers told us the palace was closed. We thought they were lying, as their classic scam is telling tourists that something is closed and they offer a tour of the city which usually consists of overpriced silk and gem shops that they get a commission for. But it turned out we had missed it by about five minutes. So we walked to Wat Po, the oldest in Bangkok, and saw many temples including the one housing the beautiful, gold-guilded Reclining Buddha who is 46 meters long and 15m high. It was amazing. We walked home and beat the torrential monsoon by about five minutes.
Today we're going to try and see the new downtown, Siam Square, and maybe get massages from blind masseurs, who charge a measly $12 for two hours. Tomorrow we fly to Chiang Mai in the north for some cooler temperatures and hopefully a little less chaos!