How to See Bangkok in Two Days. Day 1
Bangkok greeted us with torrential rain. And having got up at 3 am to catch the early flight, at 10 I felt like my day was lost forever. And that's where tropical magic comes in. No sooner did we get to our hotel as it stopped pouring. Moreover, it wouldn't be long till we'd start praying for rain and wishing it had never stopped. But that's life; you can't have your cake and eat it. So we armed ourselves with cameras and bottles of water and went out into the wild.
Everything I knew about Bangkok I found out through watching Bangkok Hilton starring Nicole Kidman. So it wouldn't be too much to say that my mind was open to anything.
At first I had mixed feelings about the city. Bright buildings that are covered with black mold look as if they burned down some time ago. City buses without windows are packed with locals who are so used to tourists they look right through you. A great number of tuk-tuks - motorized rickshaws - are hoping to give you a lift for reasonable or not really fare. Fried bananas taste more like potatoes and I almost refused to eat them because the seller grabbed the goodies with her bare hands (I am not that picky but do have some ground rules about the street food). And incalculable coconuts drifting in ice water are the only thing that can fight off thirst and heat.
The real amazement came in a face of a simple man, standing next to the city map. He asked us what we were going to see, where we were going next. He told us about the best places to visit, outlined the most efficient route and got a tuk-tuk driver to take us to the river port. And all the time while talking to him, we were anxiously expecting something. Unfortunately, having been cheated at least a dozen times, our cautious mind was looking for a catch of some kind: “How much is he going to ask for?” Huge “WHY?” was blinking somewhere in the sub-consciousness. Imagine our astonishment when the man smiled and waved us good-bye. Later we found out that these co-called map-men are paid by the government in order to promote tourism. Their job is to tell about the best and cheapest or at least reasonable ways to see the city. Moreover, these men usually approach you in the streets by themselves, so don't panic (we talked to at least 7 map-men in two days).
Then we went on a tour to Bangkok canals, I thought of it as Bangkok Venice. Later a university professor we met in a store told us a lot of things about this tour. That we got a real bargain when we rented out a boat (we got a boat for just two of us, even though it could fit at least 20 people. The feeling is unforgettable!) But he expressed regret that we didn't make any stops during the tour, for there's a lot worth seeing in the canals. He urged us to go back. We didn't but I don't regret it even for a second, for I really savoured the boat ride. We went through a complicated network of canals, enjoying the view: numerous temples, the royal fleet, colorful flowers hanging over the canals, huge monitor lizards swimming in muddy-green and absolutely not transparent water, expensive-looking houses standing on piles right in the water or shabby old huts looking so run-down you keep wondering how long can they last, people waving at us from those houses and huts and of course, boats! So many boats! You've just got to have a boat here! They are used as a means of transport, as a place for storage, for tours in canals and of course for floating trade. Some boats will approach you to offer souvenirs or food by themselves, but there is such a thing as floating market. All the stalls are permanent there but you can get to them only if you are sailing a boat.
We got off the boat next to the Grand Palace but we didn't manage to get inside since it was the king's birthday and the Palace was closed for prayer. We postponed our visit for the following day.
The locals appear at nightfall. It doesn't mean you can't see people in the streets during the day, sure you can. But the darker it gets the more people there are. The streets around the Grand Palace turn into an improvised flea market. You can literally buy anything here: brand new or second-hand, even antique. You name it - they have it all. Got hungry? Not a problem. Street food is just as abundant as the market itself.
Once you pass this swarming market you get into the world of relaxation and rest. It's still the very same street. But next to the royal park gate and other governmental buildings there are nomad massage salons. The ladies on thin blankets offer a massage to the potential customers. We didn't risk it but this type of massage seemed quite common among the locals. We saw people getting their back, head, neck, legs massaged here, there, and everywhere. And just a bit further the street turns into a bedroom. Since at night it is about 30-33 above zero, sleeping in the street is as comfortable as it can be. So disregarding hard surface of the asphalt, clamor of the market nearby and shocked stares of passers-by, men or women lie down and go to sleep.
- torrential – coming in large, fast streams – проливной
- you can't have your cake and eat it – you can't have it both ways – нельзя иметь все сразу: и море, и по колено
- mold – a superficial often woolly growth produced especially on a damp or decaying organic matter or on living organisms by a fungus – плесень
- reasonable – not too expensive, fair and sensible – разумный
- picky – very careful or too careful about choosing or accepting things – разборчивый
- ground rules – the basic rules or principles on which future actions or behaviour should be based – основные правила
- efficient – capable of producing desired results without wasting materials, time, or energy – эффективный, целесообразный
- anxiously – afraid or nervous especially about what may happen – тревожно
- to blink – to shine with a light that goes on and off – мигать
- sub-consciousness – the part of the mind that a person is not aware of – подсознание
- real bargain – an advantageous purchase, especially one acquired at less than the usual cost – хорошая сделка
- shallow – not caring about or involving serious or important things – поверхностный
- to urge – to ask people to do or support (something) in a way that shows that you believe it is very important – побуждать, убеждать
- to savour – to enjoy (something) for a long time – смаковать, наслаждаться
- complicated – consisting of parts intricately combined – сложный
- monitor lizard – tropical carnivorous lizards of Australia, Asia, and Africa – варан
- transparent – able to be seen through – прозрачный
- shabby – in poor condition especially because of age or use – убогий, потасканный
- run-down – in very bad condition because of age or lack of care – захудалый, жалкий
- floating – moving on a surface of a fluid – плавающий
- permanent – lasting or continuing for a very long time or forever – постоянный
- flea market – a type of bazaar that rents space to people who want to sell or barter merchandise; used goods, low quality items, and high quality items at low prices are commonplace – "блошиный рынок"
- abundant – plenty – обильный
- swarming – moving or assembling in a crowd – роящийся, кишащий
- nomad – a type of community that moves with its animals from place to place – кочевой
- clamor – a loud continuous noise – шум