Location: Bangkok, Thailand
This morning we awoke and joined together for a delicious breakfast put out by the hotel (we miss many things about not being on a boat, but we are pretty excited about not having to be dishies!) After some introductions and a meeting with Jim we took off towards the river, where we boarded a traditional Thai longtail boat that took us upriver. Bangkok used to be traversed primarily through a series of canals and the boats that went through them; now, there are mostly roads, but there are some areas where the canals still exist. It was interesting to see the wide range of styles housing and the ways that people live, from beautiful traditional wooden houses to older, somewhat rundown houses on stilts, to new apartment skyscrapers. We then went to the Royal Barges Museum, which is a lot cooler than it sounds, because at least to me the name barge doesn’t imply anything exciting. However, these were beautiful longboats that were ornately decorated with gold and shimmering colored tiles. Many years ago, they were used on a regular basis, but now only come out for the procession on the King’s birthday. Next was a lunch stop “delicious pad Thai at a local restaurant, followed by exploring through some food and market stands nearby (and maybe some traditional Thai ice cream bars in various flavors including the local and notorious fruit durian). We then made it to the Royal Palace. Upon entering, you were overwhelmed by all of the temples. There were so many beautiful buildings to look at, and we were all amazed by the intricacy and details on every inch of the temples. Up until this point, we had a beautiful (hot) day, but the afternoon thunderstorms associated with the rainy season made us run for cover and then head back to the hotel via a local ferry boat. It cleared up, and we had an adventure getting back through some of the roads that had accumulated large puddles. See the photo of us utilizing the park fence in order to keep our sneakers from getting wet. After some relaxing in the hotel pool and cleaning up, we met up with Jim again and headed to a local restaurant. Jim ordered a large array of traditional Thai food, and we all tested our tolerance for the spicy Tom Yum soup. I am pretty sure the meal was for many the highlight of the day, and we all walked away stuffed. Everyone is now getting in bed since we have an early morning tomorrow. Heading back to the airport, this time to get on a flight, followed by a ferry, to our next destination, Koh Tao. We are all looking forward to our next destination, especially because it means beautiful beaches and diving!