OVER the next few weeks I'm going to blog about various places we visited in our recent one month holiday to Australia. I went with Rob my husband on a 'once in a lifetime' holiday to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We enjoyed it so much it may be more than 'once in a lifetime' now as we have the travel bug! We arranged our holiday with Bridge and Wickers and flew Qantas.
Bangkok was a city full of surprises. After a tearful farewell to our three grown up children we set off on our great Australian adventure. It all seemed a bit surreal and both Rob and I were left with the feeling of "what have we done?"
En route we had a three night stop over in Bangkok. We loved it - but what an unusual city. We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental which was very good. As Bangkok has just got over the floods and at the best of times has a mixed reputation, this hotel suited us down to the ground. We had less qualms about the water, food and sanitation although still only drank bottled water and had no ice. We were amazed to see people eating food from the street vendors. I am sure it's ok but it wasn't for us.
Highlights of Bangkok were the floating market (although this was outside of Bangkok), the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, the night market and a Thai massage. We didn't buy anything at the floating market but it was interesting to see. We had to do this with a guide because it is impossible to do this yourself, being 1 1/2 hours outside of Bangkok. Most of the market is actually not floating and it is therefore the 20 minute journey in a "James Bond" style tail boat that zips through the canals that make this fun. It was possible to go in a boat through the market and if you want to do this check that your tour operates this way.
We took a ferry bus from close to the hotel to the Grand Palace. You need to be careful as there are tuk tuk drivers outside who will tell you it is closed for an hour to take you on a tour of the local shops. This will undoubtedly not be the case. You need to dress modestly but if you have forgotten to do so there are clothes to borrow. It was a little confusing going around the palace but we found everything in the end. The highlight is the Emerald Buddah which is housed in a great big room but is itself tiny.
A short walk from the Palace is the temple Wat Pho. This houses the Reclining Buddah which is absolutely enormous. It is incredible to think anyone would have thought of commissioning something so big! Inside the grounds is the Thai School of massage. Prices are very reasonable and Rob had a half hour back massage for about £5.00. We had both had a Thai massage in the hotel the previous day which was brilliant, an experience not to be missed. We had a suite with a bath and steam room prior to the massage. We put on special outfits and were then massaged in unison by two masseurs. The massage finished with a ceremonial tea.
The night market was a really fun experience. On one side there were stalls selling all types of tourist products. On the other side were people trying to get you to go into their sex shows - usually under the title of "ping pong show". We bought nothing and didn't go to a show!