We arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday evening... We took an airport shuttle from the Bangkok airport to what was supposed to be near our hotel, but we decided (mostly due to my poor judgement and a lack of english speaking bus staff) to get off the bus about 15 minutes from our hotel. About 2 minutes later, it began to rain. Not just any rain, but huge gobs of rain, in a monsoon-like manner. The streets were flooded in seconds and Howard and I were drenched. We decided to stop under a canopy for 10 minutes, while we reviewed our map. When the rain did not let up, we decided to grab our bags and run for it. Ultimately, we did get to the hotel, but only after getting drenched from head to toe, with no sign of dryness anywhere. We walked into the hotel complex (2 shopping centers and the hotel) and immediately stood out as the two people without umbrellas walking through this mess. The hotel gave us our key and we immediately ran upstairs to change/shower...

That evening, we decided to venture out to Patpong, the infamous "red-light" district and night market in Silom, Bangkok. It was a relatively clear night, but still quite warm (despite the heavy rain earlier). We found a charming Japanese restaurant with a "buffet" menu which was entirely ordered through the sushi chef at the sushi counter for the equivalent of $15. As we began eating in Bangkok, we realized just how cheap things here were. Needless to say, this was a good deal... We grabbed as much salmon and tuna as we could, then ventured into the markets.
Patpong is a space unlike any other, with go-go bars and massage parlors being touted by all walks of life to all walks of life (I saw a one-legged man suggesting a hardcore show to a boy who couldn't have been older than 15). There is little shame here, with prostitutes and masseuses touting their services openly, bargaining with local men and women for services. Along with these services, there are several stalls all around selling all kinds of local and counterfeit wares. It's a sad state of affairs, but nonetheless, an interesting market. For the life of me, I don't understand parents who bring their (young) children to the market, but to each his own... We walked through, avoiding solicitation as much as possible, while trying not to laugh at their tactics ("no charge for looking!"). After a little while, we called it a night...

One editors note: To be honest, the idea of a massage in Thailand is quite tempting on the face of it. It New York, a comparable massage would cost five times what it costs here, and the hospitality is superb (at least from everything else we've participated in). Even the concept of exotic women masseuses is tempting, since its an experience that cannot be had elsewhere. However, the way it is presented and cheapened through the so-called "promoters" is a massive turnoff. It's really unfortunate... Brutal honesty people...

Yesterday, we ventured out to two major tourist sites, the Wat Po and the Grand Palace. Funny story - When we got to Wat Po, a man approached us and told us it was only open to Thai people that day, but that we could go somewhere else with him. Yeah, right... So, we disregarded him, only to find that he was trying to "scam" us. Then, when we got close another man approached us and told us that I needed to wear long pants at the site, and that he could direct me to a store. We disregarded him as well (luckily they offer a free pants rental at sites where they are required). On both occassions, there were guards standing near us who gave us a look like "these guys are full of it". Thus, Howard and I came up with a general rule for Thailand - "Whatever the guys with the guns/bayonettes say, goes. Everyone else is full of it". Words to live by...

Wat Po is home to magnificent Thai architecture, complete with amazing shingled roofs of multiple colors, intricate sculptures of wood and stone and of course budda, in this case a large (understatement of the year) reclining buddha. Here's some photos of the grounds and the reclining buddha:








big shoes, for a big buddha

The Grand Palace is another amazing site, with two sections, namely the Wat Phra Kaew, which includes the temple with the Emerald Buddha, and Chakri Mahaprasad Hall, the old palace of Thai Royalty. The first section is a huge complex with similar buildings as found in Wat Po (nice shingles, intricate work, etc.), with a few distinguishing structures such as the golden chedi called the Phra Sri Ratana and several amazing statues. It's a wonderful site to see, so check it out:








The actual palace is a bit of a letdown, with the only main attraction coming in form of guards who must stand their post while tourists photograph themselves with them:



After the Grand Palace, Howard and I ventured to Bunglampoo to eat lunch at the Chabad House. To get there, we took a Tuk Tuk. For those of you unfamiliar with the Tuk Tuk, its an excellent 3-wheeled vehicle that is sort of like a motorcycle with a bench in the back that is enclosed. One note on transport in Bangkok - dirt cheap. A cab starts at 35 baht (roughy $1.15 USD) and goes up by 2 baht every km or minute in traffic. Thus, a 45 minute ride (which is common, given the terrible Bangkok traffic) costs about $75-90 baht, or $2.50-3.00 USD. The Tuk Tuk's are usually quite a bit less, with several offering to take us for 5-10 baht per hour. Here's some photos from the Tuk Tuk:


Here's a photo of the Chabad restaurant sign from a distance (it's in the middle of a backpackers district) :

You'll notice an Israeli hostel right up the block as well. Lots and lots of Israelis everThe food at Chabad is amazing, and since they keep prices at local levels (and have a local shochet), the meal is quite inexpensive. Howard and I had appetizers, a full lunch, dessert and drinks for about $12 USD with tip. Not bad...

After lunch (roughly 3pm) we walked around the area by the Chabad house. We came across a fruit stand for Rambutan. Howard had never tried them, so I encouraged him to get one. He asked the price, and was told 20 baht. He paid, and received 1 kg of Rambutan, which is roughly 30 pieces. A Rambutan is like quite tasty, but 30 is a bit much... After Howard ate all the Rambutan, we headed back to the hotel to rest up, prior to the evenings festivities. We walked by Patpong as they were setting up:Why do they do this every night? Why not just leave the tables up each day? Good question posed by Howard. When we find out, we'll let you know...


That night we walked into Patpong. On our way, we ran into an elephant on the sidewalk (which is of couse completely normal). Yes, it was weird, and no we did not pay for photos. It was just kind of crazy. After being turned off again to the thought of a massage and a quick dinner, we both sought refuge at the Montien Hotel, listening to music of a local Thai woman. She was singing Whitney Houston and other American music pretty poorly. However, it was fun for a while... We headed back to the hotel around midnight to prep for the next day's early adventures to the floating markets...