Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bangkok, Thailand March 2012 (Part 3)

On Thursday night the conference had a cultural/welcome night. My co-worker and I had decided that we were going to take a boat ride though before that started. By the time we got done with the conference for the day though it was windy and the water was rough.  So, I suggested we go to the Grand Palace again to see if we could get in. We got a taxi there but when we approached a guy said it was close. He told us we should do a boat ride that would go on this back canal through old Bangkok and stop at a couple places like a temple and the floating market. Since it was not windy where we were I forgot about not wanting to go on a boat, and said sure. The guy got us a tuk tuk and directed the guy were to go. When we go there though my co-worker remembered that she had signed up to sell raffle tickets as she was the teacher rep for our school and had to be back before the boat trip would end. So, I ended up going by myself. I did not want to miss out on doing something, so she headed back and I got in the boat. The guy offered to take me all the way back to the Shangri-La hotel instead of coming back to where we were for a few extra baht so I said sure. We got started and the first thing the guy had to do was go up the rive a ways and get more gas and then we turned around and headed into the canal. It was about 6 in the evening so the sun was going down. The guy would go a decent speed sometimes and other times he would go pretty fast. We past a few other small boats and they all had groups of people. I saw lots and lots of temples along the way.

War Arun or Temple of Dawn located along the Chao Phraya River

Down the canal it was not very wide so it was not windy and no choppy water. We went by some very nice houses and some the people were obviously very poor. I wondered how many of these houses had been affected by the flood in November. Some now longer had sides to their houses but just ragged cloth covering them. We didn't stop any place so I didn't even see the floating market, but I still enjoyed all I did see. I didn't really get any good pictures since I didn't really have time to stop and get them focused. Some turned out ok, but the times where he was going pretty fast those are all a blur.

Down the canal. The sunset
 When we got back out to the river it was dark by then. It was about 7 at night. The river is much wider and open so it was windy and the water was choppy. There were lots of boats of larger sizes and even some huge, long barges. At one point we were going between some larger boats and barges and our boat was really going up and down because he had been going fast. I thought that we were going to take in water and sink. I thought to myself I can swim, but I have no life jacket and the water may be very cold. It is dark so no one would be able to see my and I would lose my bag as I figured it would be too heavy to hang on to if filled with water plus my stuff. I thought maybe this boat ride down to my hotel was not the smartest decision especially in the dark. At that point I turned around and shouted at the guy,"Do you really think this is a good idea?" Either he couldn't hear me over the motor and/or he didn't understand me and he kept going.

On the river in the dark

 The hotel seemed so far away and every time we would go between large ships and barges and really bob up and down I would think ok this time it is going to sink. But we made it. He actually went past the place as he could not find the landing area. He had to back up and he finally turned on his light. There was a small dinner cruise ship that was loading up with people to go out. I thought, great I am going to have to sit here until it loads and pulls away and I was ready to be off it. He flashed his light at them and they opened the gate on the side and two guys came over and assisted me up on that boat. I went in through the area where all the people were entering smiling as I went, glad to be off the boat and the adventure it turned out to be. All the people were looking confused at me. I got off the other side and walked up the ramp to the hotel. After that I went up to the ballroom area as there was a local craft show for that day only. They had lots of beautiful items they were selling. It was pretty small but very nice. They had jewelry, woven items, shadow puppets, art, lotions & soaps, Christmas ornaments, food jewelry & magnets. I rant into my co-worker there as that was the room she discovered she was assigned to for the raffle tickets, but she wasn't really sure what she was supposed to do. After she finished her hour we went down to the pool area for the cultural/welcome night. I didn't stay long. I wasn't super hungry. There was lots of people but it was dark and noisy so it was really hard to pick out the people I knew. They did have some traditional Thai dancing that I watched.

At the Cultural Night

 There was also lots of people drinking and since neither my co-worker or Director of Studies drink because of their religion I felt awkward. In the presence of others of different cultures and religions I am respectful and if necessary stick to halal food and not drinking, so even though no one else there needed to do that I just felt awkward.  After being there for a bit I left my co-worker with a new friend she had made and went over to the deck by the restaurant where they served tapas as I love tapas and wanted to try theirs. There was a guy who played guitar and sang great classic rock songs that I grew up to. I had the lamb kabobs and bruschetta. The food tasted ok, but definitely not what I considered tapas and very plain.  The waiter accidentally dropped my dried bread that went with my lamb kabobs and had to go get more. After I was there for a while just enjoying the evening then I went inside to the Chocolate Boutique they have. They have marvelous chocolate sculptures. I got myself a little chocolate cake and ate it there. There was a dark skinned woman singing American jazz while a guy accompanied her on piano. I also like jazz, so it was nice to listen to that for awhile before going upstairs for the night.

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