Beautiful Handmade Statement Necklaces and other Fabulousness from Neena Shilvock - Inspirations and Designs From the Week Gone by
Hello folks, it's lovely to catch up with you again after a few weeks off. As you might've read in my previous posts, I've been on a visit to India and a mini break to Bangkok. It was great to see my mother again, and I met up with a load of friends and relatives in India, but it was a quiet holiday there compared to the last time when we celebrated my mother's 90th birthday. I was very excited about the trip to Thailand, having never been before and being a big fan of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I. Yul Brynner played the role of the King on Broadway for years before the film was made - the musical was called Anna and the King of Siam. I found myself looking for Yul Brynner lookalikes constantly, but alas, there were none.
We stayed at the Radisson Blu on the main drag, the Sukhumvit Road - it was truly the road that never sleeps. The traffic built up on the road from before six am and didn't let up, till 3am. In spite of that we managed to cross to road to get to the fabulous massage parlour 'Lek' each night. Lek stayed open every night till 1am and we lay in a row having various parts of our anatomy pummelled and kneaded into shape, in preparation for the rigours of the next day.
The hotel was fabulous, in keeping with what one would expect from a Radisson Blu - it freaked me out that they had a pane of glass between the bedroom and the loo, until I located an electrically operated shutter, Phew! There was the obligatory rooftop infinity pool, a fabulous Chinese Dimsum restaurant where we stuffed ourselves silly on the last day and fabulous views of the skyscrapers of downtown Bangkok from the rooftop bar.
We drove out to the Floating Market - it took us an hour to get there, and when we did, it was the most awful tourist trap, with us in a motorboat zooming over dirty water, sucking in petrol fumes, sitting ducks for any vendor who caught our eye. It got so bad that we didn't dare look at anything lest the vendor pounce on us and try to get us to buy something. The prices for the tourist tat were pretty steep, and we found the same goods elsewhere with a pre bargaining asking price that was a quarter to a third of those in the floating market. Our driver was very helpful and took us there and back without mishap. Michael decided that he wanted to have a suit made and we ended up in a swanky shop called 'James Tailor' - 'James', whoever he was, had a major operation with two air conditioned shops on either side of the road, a fleet of cars, chauffeurs and loads of salespeople who obviously worked on commission. A bit of sharp bargaining, (which embarrassed my English husband who was asked to be quiet or forgo his suit) and we had ourselves a perfectly made mohair suit, sewn to Mikes measurements in a day. Everyone was happy, apart from 'James' who didn't expect any bargaining from us.
We had decided on seeing the emerald Buddha that was inside the royal palace and the reclining Buddha in a nearby building, but by the time we got there and parked miles away from the palace and then walked to the entrance, they had closed the shrine and we decided to go back there the next morning.
Built within the grounds of the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew or 'The Temple of the Emerald Buddha' is the most important and most visited temple in Bangkok. One of the most significant features of Wat Phra Kaew is the Emerald Buddha, carved into a 66 cm tall block of Jade. However, they had covered the Buddha with gold cloth and all we could see from very far away was a tiny green face. The palace itself is very beautiful with intricate carvings and embellishments everywhere. I could imagine Yul Brynner in this setting, and looked for him in vain. There is a two km long gallery covered with incredibly detailed mural paintings depicting scenes from the epic story of the Ramayana. It is a huge complex and a proper exploration would have taken us a whole day. We spent a couple of hours there, and a bit disappointed by the emerald Buddha, we decided to go on to the Golden Buddha in a tuk- tuk - one can't go to Thailand and not use one of them. If the Emerald Buddha was too small for us, the golden one was huge, and had to be photographed in segments!
That was all the sightseeing done, now to hit the shops! My sister in law and I took off in a tuk-tuk, leaving the men by the pool. We went to the Palladium mall and looked around the bead shops and I picked up a few strings of baroque pearls and some nugget beads. I looked into a load of shops but didn't really want to carry back beads that I would be able to source for almost the same price online and have the added benefit of having them delivered to the house. I also thought that Jaipur was much better value for money, or perhaps I was just tired after all the wandering about. Whatever the reason was, I didn't do too much shopping. We found a shop with the most beautiful antique Afghani jewellery - the owner was a rotund Pashtun who had spread a mat down and was taking his post prandial siesta when we walked in. We asked him for prices of his jewellery, and retreated in shock at what he quoted, certainly way beyond my budget!
We went to see the Ladyboys in a show called Calypso - I must confess that I had expected a Carnival style extravaganza, but this show was a bit more restrained, set to jazz and swing music.
And that was it, our time in Bangkok was over. We made a trip into Patpong where the callers tried to lure us in to visit the girls half heartedly. They could see that we weren't interested, but tried anyway in a good natured desultory sort of way, waving their 'menus' at us, just in case. I bought a few souvenirs in the street market there and we got on the most Godawful, cramped, Air Asia flight back to Bangalore - as a budget airline it is probably one of the worst I've been on, never again!
So that's the story of my trip to Bangkok, folks. I hope you enjoyed the read. Bangalore was pretty tame and uneventful in comparison as we did the same things over again - off to the Bangalore club, visited relatives, met friends and generally relaxed before we had to come home and back to work.
That's me for this week, have a great week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.