Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bangkok - More than " The Hangover Two"

When you see, just see.
When you hear, just hear.
When you smell, just smell.
When you touch, just touch.
When you know, just know.  - Buddha

Ready for this fun fact?  The official name of Bangkok is “Krungthep Maha Nakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yutthaya Maha Dilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udom Ratchaniwet Maha Sathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakka Thattiya Witsanukam Prasit”!  And I’m there!!!

Exhibit at Ratanakosin Museum

Lunch at Methawarai Sorndaeng Restaurant, one of Bangkok's oldest

Democracy Monument in downtown Bangkok

      Bangkok seems much the same as I remember it from when Jeff and I were here in 1984.   Crazy traffic, ornamented tuk-tuks zipping by, crowded streets and alleys with a myriad of shops and food vendors – and all this is interspersed with spectacularly breathtaking temples and monuments.  On Day One we visited a state-of-the-art interactive museum on Thailand’s history, had a lavish lunch, then went to the Dusit Palace.  The Palace is filled with spectacular decorative artwork done by artisans from the villages of the kingdom.  The Queen of Thailand is the patroness of a project that preserves the ancient arts from dying out by employing villagers to continue the traditional arts of needlework, metallurgy, wood carving etc.  I can’t describe the beauty of these items so hopefully I’ll be able to post photos of the beautiful thrones, golden jewel-encrusted palanquins (the thing the king rides in when he’s on his elephant), and other works of art.  The most interesting pieces were decorated with beetle wings – beautiful green iridescent wings that glow behind the golden filigree of the pieces.  We also saw the ceremonial throne room where the king receives official visitors.  Stunning!
View from my room at the Montien Hotel in Bangkok
In front of Dusit Palace - unfortunately no photos were allowed inside

      But the best part of the day which was the 1 hour Thai massage five of my fellow Fulbrighters and I experienced.  Akin to assisted yoga, I’ve never been so stretched, flexed, and pounded before by a 90 pound Thai girl who could probably bench 300 pounds she was so strong.  This was desperately needed after the long plane trip and cost a whopping $12.  I can tell already that I will be getting frequent flyer miles at this massage parlor during my weeks here in Thailand.  We had dinner at a restaurant down a back alley a few blocks from our hotel.  It felt like going to a 1920s speakeasy – we entered through a hidden door in a wall, then walked through an abandoned warehouse and up two flights of dicey stairs – but emerged into a trendy, modern, Thai restaurant that had food to die for.  I’m posting a lot of food photos in this blog, and believe me it tastes as good as it looks!

Cup of tea served after our group Thai massage 
In Thailand food is a feast for the eyes as well as taste buds!