Friday, January 12, 2007

Bangkok Tropical City - Grand Palace

Bangkok is a city all right. People here tell us it is over 10 million. It is not like a US city with a central downtown, then neighborhoods. It is mixed with a few high rises and mostly about 3 stories for mile after mile after mile. Our hotel is near the Sky Train so we can get around. But the walk there is a bit challenging, even though it's only about 5 blocks. The first three blocks the side walk is narrow and rough; you have to watch your step. The side streets and alleys are at least a foot lower, so more caution is required. We have a big sigh of relief when we reach Imperial Tara Hotel. Sorry no links, since access is expensive. Sky Train elevated trains are 3 or 4 cars and run frequently. But this is a large city, and they have little seating, so most runs are standing room only. Bangkok is big on fancy malls. There is one called Emporium connected to our Sky Train station - Phrom Phong - and to most. And at Siam Station there are several large ones. All very fancy. Today we visited the Grand Palace. What a place. I have to get a good link for it. It is a Buddhist temple that is huge and very ornate. But the trip was half the fun. We rode the Sky Train for about 5 miles to the river. We were waiting for the very cheap public boat. But Gini dickered while we were waiting and got a private "long-tail boat" to take 4 of us for 500 baht = $15. What an experience. The boat is at least 40 feet long and 5 feet wide and can easily carry 30 passengers. The engine is an automobile engine - I kept thinking V8, but probably a big 4 or 6 - and its drive shaft connected to the propeller. It is a sight to behold; the pilot pivots the whole thing - from engine to prop - to steer. Then when there are no wakes to cross he guns it to 15 or 20. We went about 5 miles up the river to the Grand Palace landing. And the whole route has various pagodas and temples every mile or less.

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