Thursday, 7 July 2011

Balls out in Bangkok - Part 1...

And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City. The Bull got up early for the THIRD BLOODY DAY IN A ROW to knock out some exercise, this time logging 4 miles. He's nursing a slight injury on the ball of his left big toe now, but fret not, dad - I am 100% gut divorcing it. So the Bull owes everyone a Bangkok recap, and so let's get amongst it:
Friday: Do you want fries with that? So the flight was supposed to be at 6 PM, meaning that JT and I had to arrive at the airport about 4 PM. Well, we arrived to find that the flight had been delayed an hour, meaning we had an hour to kill in Singapore's less than exclusive Budget Terminal (picture a World War II airplane hangar with a McDonald's inside it). Given that we were still hurting from the boozy Thursday before, Jenny asked if I wanted to just get some fries from McD's. I said no, but about 30 seconds later I changed my mind. So we sit there, both claiming to be "not hungry," and polish off, not one, but TWO orders of fries and 2 double cheeseburgers. The fat and grease then begins affecting my brain, and I don't realize that they've now opened check-in for us. Consequently, we were among the LAST TEN PEOPLE to check in for the flight, as we had to wait in line for an hour.
We then clear security to find the flights been delayed until 8:40, and then, whilst in line to board the plane, we find out there's been a technical malfunction, meaning we won't leave until 9:20. This isn't the end of the world for the Bull and Striker, as we found a nice little dim sum place and ate ANOTHER dinner. And I also finished Shogun! TP - you were right - EPIC novel. Consequently, I moved right to Tai-pan.
We ended up boarding about 10 PM, and we arrived in BKK at 11 PM (you gain an hour). Our driver was waiting for us, and he took us to our CUTE little hotel room, where a plate of fruit I'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE awaited us. Granted, I've never had any desire to eat "hairy fruit" before, but I was STILL starving (you can't just give Buddha a little food and expect him to be happy), so I killed it ALL. We finally passed out about 2 AM, exhausted and thankful for a cushy bed.
Saturday: What do you mean "stop at 6 PM?"
So Saturday was truly one of those perfect vacation days. We popped up about 9, didn't bother showering, and were out the door within 30 minutes. We picked up some Starbucks en route (and BLEW THE MINDS OF THE BARISTAS when we asked for Hazelnut syrup - I mean really, is it that difficult? Seriously?). It should be noted that Bangkok has street vendor stalls EVERYWHERE, and we went CRAZY buying fruit from these people. You could get AN ENTIRE PINEAPPLE for 66 cents! Jenny took down papayas and mangoes, but I stuck to the acid scorching pineapple, and it was so guuuuuuuuuuuuud (peppy cheekies).
We made it down to the central pier, where we learned that you could buy an all-day water taxi and boat pass for $5. We procured out tix, and about 30 seconds later the "River Tourist Bus" shows up. Seriously - it was something out of a 1947 River Queen out-take - HILARIOUS! But it was a GLORIOUS day on the water, and the ride to the Grand Palace takes you past lots of really cool temples, which is EXTRA AWESOME.
So we rock up to the Grand Palace, which Big D had warned us kept some odd hours. We'd confirmed that it was open from 8-3, but upon arrival we have a guy tell us "Palace closed. You come back 1 PM." I point out that about a BASQUILLION people are streaming in, at which point he says, "No, all Thai people. No foreigner. Is ceremony." Not believing this cat (who is also trying to sell me a tour), I walk up to a guy dressed as a police officer and ask if it's open. The conversation went something like this:
Cop Like Dude (CLD): "You no clothes!"
Sammy the Bull (StB): "I'm sorry? I asked - IS TEMPLE OPEN FOR FOREIGNERS." (because when you speak louder they become fluent)
CLD: "No clothes! She okay. You no clothes!" (at this point Jenny figure's out he's referring to my shorts)
StB: "Is okay, I have clothes." (I whip out my dude sarong, which is, let's face it, a skirt) "See, I good."
CLD: "No, you rent! You rent!" (at this point I've had enough and he's not armed, so I decide to push it by walking past him - he doesn't like that) "Is closed! Is clothed! You come back at 1. You wear clothes! (I AM WEARING CLOTHES, DAMN IT)
In the end, I decide that since he's an officer of the law, I will abide. But only on the walk back to the pier does it dawn on me that his "uniform" said "Police Department of New York." That S.O.B. LIED TO ME!!! He was just another tout! SERENITY NOW!!!!!
All was not lost, however, as we rolled across the river (the boat was 9 cents a person - NOT JOKING) to Wat Arun - the Temple of the Dawn. This, sports fans, was a REALLY neat experience. The temple is a Khmer pillar, and the steps are steeper than driving "Going to the Sun Mountain Road." Even cooler, the detail is exquisite up close and is made of broken pottery - really wicked cool. And best of all, I found a Happy Buddha created in my image - tell me I'm not that dude's Doppleganger - CHUUUUUBBBYYYY BUUUNNNNYYYY!!!!!
We then left there to visit Wat Po, the other temple I was really keen on. However, when we inadvertently showed up ON THE THAI NAVAL BASE and the guard looked at us funny, we whipped out the map and realized that we were on the wrong side of the river. Jenny's cute smile and another 9 cents apiece got us back across the river, at which point we had some more fruit for energy and tried the Grand Palace a second time.
This time we were permitted on the grounds, only to be told that my outfit was not acceptable and that there was a 1 hour wait for pants. My alternative was to buy a pair of DONKEY TRASH KOKOPELLI Hammer Pants for $5 across the street. Also, when I asked the guard about coming back tomorrow, he told me that, since it was a holiday, all the buildings were closed today and tomorrow (UM, WHAAAAAT?!?!?!?!). I asked what the hell there was to do in that case, at which point he said, "Look at the buildings." BUT I CAN ALREADY SEE THE BUILDINGS FROM HERE! WHY WOULD I PAY $12 TO SEE THEM CLOSER? And so we abandoned the Grand Palace - but hey, we're back next month, so perhaps we'll make it happen then.
We then hit Wat Po, home of the reclining Buddha. This place was EXTRA AWESOME, and we spent over 2 hours roaming around. The highlight is definitely the reclining Buddha, stretching 46 meters in length! And the best part - this was the SAME Buddha featured on Season 1 of the Amazing Race! We actually did the same challenge they did, where you pick up a load of coins and drop them into the buckets around the Buddha. The sound was really cool and added to the whole experience, which was JUST FANTASTIC.
It should be noted that the temples in Bangkok are EASILY the most impressive that we've visited, and they are all between 66 cents and $1.50 to visit. Can I just say again HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS COUNTRY?
After Wat Po, we hopped back on the boat, at which point we saw 2 boats of HOT BLONDS roll past. I looked at Jenny and said, "The Bachelor!" And we were determined to email KJ as soon as well got home to tell her that we'd just seen the bachelor girls rolling past. We've since learned, however, that filming is totally done, meaning that must have been some other donkey trash program. Oh well, it was almost a good story.
The better story from the boat was the member of the crew who just KEPT YELLING at me whilst I was standing on the boat. He was COVERED in jailhouse tats, and finally he pushed me toward the center of the boat. I snapped back, "What if I want to stand here!" but he was having none of it. I complained to Jenny, "he ain't tellin' any of those other jokers to move!" It should be noted that, when I got up to leave, I noticed that Jenny and I were standing on this yellow square on the boat with a sign in English that said, "Please do not stand here when approaching the dock." Oops...details.
We got out at the top end of the canal for what turned out to be an EPIC location - the Khao San road. Made famous by the movie "The Beach," this is an area FILLED with food, massage parlors, ping pong shows, and shopping. We did 3 out of 4 - I'll let you figure out which one we skipped.
First things first - WE WERE STARVING. And so we sat down, ordered up some pad thai, and then we ordered 2 Chang beers. They were EPIC, but then our boys says - "Drink up - taps close at 6!" The look on mine and Jenny's face could only be described as pure horror.
So here's the thing (and mom, dad, sorry I didn't mention this before) - this weekend was the election in Thailand for the new Parliament. Last election was when the tanks rolled down the street, 90 people were killed, and the country was placed under Martial Law for 2 months. In preparation for this, the army had basically called up EVERYONE to stand at the polls. The government had taken the further step of BANNING ALCOHOL, but we thought it was just the Sunday. When we learned that the ban started at 6 PM, Jenny and I did the only sensible thing a couple in our position would do - BEGAN CHUGGING. And mom, dad, Tacy's - it should be noted that it was TOTALLY fine throughout the city. It was totally safe, we saw no protests, no violence, and nothing out of order. Everyone was superfriendly, and the experience was just as wonderful as times previous.
After a great meal and some booze, I was in a mind to do some SERIOUS shopping. I had seen a few shirts I liked, but NOTHING FIT MY FAT ASS. Ultimately I found a place that sold 2XL, and I managed to get into those, although now that we've washed them I've no idea. Rice - there isn't a shirt in this country for your 6'5" frame - you would just be running around naked the entire time searching for Rusty's.
Jenny scored with some great backpack shopping, and then we celebrated by hitting up a massage parlor for a 30 minute foot massage. It was EPIC, and the best part? It was $3. Again, have I mentioned that I love this country? I should note that the massage took place "upstairs" in what can only be described as a "sweatshop," with about 900 of my closest friends also getting rubbed on. Wicked.
We then hopped into a cab who knew our road but not our hotel, and so he dropped us off at the start of the road. In theory that was a great idea, only Silom road is THE LONGEST STREET IN THE WORLD. Consequently, after walking for 30 minutes, we hopped into a cab, admitting defeat. I told the drive the location, he laughed, and then drove for about .5 KM before pulling into our place. But the drive cost me exactly ONE DOLLAR, so I was good with it.
We then showered (finally) and crashed at midnight, an AMAZING day in the books. Our Sunday shenanigans will just have to keep, as it's time for some $2 sushi now that Muffin Puffin's back from Futsal! KKUFC forever!
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny

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