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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tried again to see The Grand Palace

The first day we tried to see The Grand Palace we were rained out. Today we tried again but still did not make it. We donned the appropriate clothing required for visitors (long trousers for men and skirts below the knee or long pants for women and with upper arms covered, with regular shoes and no sandals), and hailed a taxi. The taxi deposited us at a side entrance where a uniformed man instructed us to walk down the street to another entrance to purchase tickets. When we reached the other entrance, another man (not in a uniform) told us that a special function was occurring and that visitors would not be allowed until after 1:00 p.m. and suggested we go visit another temple. I did not believe him and figured he was just trying to be our guide to another place, so we kept walking towards the corner with intentions to go down the next street and see if tickets could be purchased at another entrance. We ended up going across the street to a market area where a vendor also told us that there was a special function in the palace today and that visitors would not be allowed until after 1:00 p.m. The vendor suggested we not walk down the street towards the main entrance to The Grand Palace and told us that it was not a safe area. That sounded strange.

Next we talked to nearby policeman and he confirmed that "loyal faithful people" were having a special function inside the palace today and that visitors would not be allowed until afternoon. The policeman also suggested that we not walk down the street towards the main entrance as it was not safe. Ok; that made 2 people telling us that it was not safe to be near the main entrance to The Grand Palace on this particular day. Given the Red Shirt demonstrations of the past few months, maybe these local people knew something that we did not. Possibly another demonstration was planned. Whatever the reason that we were being advised that the main entrance was not safe, we took the warnings to heart and moved on.

Elisabeth was complaining that it was too hot and wet and she just wanted to go back to the hotel room. Zach was beginning to agree with her. Not one of us wanted to go see the huge 750-year-old Buddha statue that the tuk-tuk drivers were trying to sell us on visiting. Then Elisabeth had a good idea. We had driven past the National Museum in the taxi and it wasn't too far away. She suggested we go there; maybe it would be air-conditioned and we could hang around inside the museum until after 1:00 and try the palace again then if it wasn't raining. That sounded like a plan.

We hailed a tuk-tuk for the short drive to the National Museum. Turned out it was not air-conditioned, but the gift shop was and we cooled off in there. For a national museum, this was a disappointment. We would not recommend it unless you are just looking for a place to waste some time like we were. By the time we finished the museum, none of us cared to try again to see the palace. We just wanted to go back to the hotel.

After a late lunch we hung around the hotel room and the kids played DS and read books while Bill caught up on the news online. After this rest period we walked to the Thewet boat stop #15. We were going exploring on the river on what can only be called a boat bus. There are 3 colors of flags on the boats and they travel up and down the main river ferrying passengers between 30 stops. We had been advised to use the orange flagged boats; I don't know why orange rather than red or blue; but we did as told and rode the orange one. The nearest stop to our hotel is stop #15, a/k/a Thewet. We bought tickets for 14 baht each (less than 50 cents) and rode to the northern end of the line at stop #30. We walked around that area of Bangkok for awhile; then boarded another orange flagged boat for the ride back to stop #15.

We saw many more colorful temples along both sides of the river. Neither Zachary nor Elisabeth care now if they ever see another temple or another Buddhist statue. They reached overload on temples and statues rather quickly on this Thailand trip. These boats are a great way to see different parts of Bangkok. We definitely will travel by boat again, maybe to the southern end of the line next time.

When we returned to Thewet #15 the kids wanted to feed the fish congregated around the pier. There were millions of large catfish and the vendors had large plastic bags of bread crusts for sale to feed the catfish. This seemed to be popular with the local people. The fish would go crazy swimming over one another trying to get to the bread crusts. Cheap entertainment.

There was a small Thai boy picking up tiny eels and small fish from buckets on the boat pier. The eels kept slipping through his fingers and he would giggle. Very cute.

We walked a short while and stopped for ice cream and beer. You can guess who of us had which. Then back to the hotel for showers and another brief rest before dinner. No ghost stories tonight. Bill, Zachary and Elisabeth were all unusually tired. We watched 3 episodes of M.A.S.H. and they fell fast asleep. Being the night person that I normally am, I played on the computer for hours.

Earlier this afternoon we discussed it and decided that we would try again tomorrow afternoon to see The Grand Palace. But now none of us cares if we see the inside of it. We saw enough of the exterior wall as we walked around it this morning. There is a valuable old small emerald Buddha that is a big tourist attraction, but none of us cares if we see it or not. We might just give The Grand Palace a miss.
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