Starting Off With a Bang(kok)

The first thing we did after traveling for 30 hours to get to Thailand was take the water taxi. It was the equivalent of about 65 cents to get on, and the whole thing was a cultural experience. I will never not wince at a whistle ever again. We were able to view many of the skyscrapers and temples that lined the river. We had no idea where we were, or how many stops to ride for, all we knew was that there was a temple somewhere up ahead that we wanted to visit. After guessing the stop, taking a jumper across the river, and walking a few blocks we found Wat Pho. I thought it was going to be the least cool temple we would visit, hence why I put it first on the itinerary. It turned out to be the most expansive, ornate, colorful, significant temple we saw. It also housed the largest reclining Buddha in the world. We got lost on the massive grounds and scoured for water since it was Florida-like hot outside. On the way out of the temple I did my best impression of my mother when I bargained for mango from a street bender.

Our night started off with tasting the local cuisine on a sunset cruise, and then we found a small street with street food vendors. We decided to frequent Kob’s Kitchen, the largest tent with the smokiest kitchen and fattest chef (Kob…I guess). The fried noodles and huge Leo beer (seriously bigger than my head) filled us up for our night on the town, or should I say *above* the town. I learned about the Lebua Sky Bar from travel bloggers on Instagram, and knew I wanted to go. Turns out it was also in the famous movie The Hangover. We took a tuk tuk to the tower and when we walked in it looked like an abandoned mall. We found our way by red carpet to the elevators. Marissa and TC were both wearing flip flops, which evidently, were not allowed. “No problem” they said, there is a store where you can rent some shoes. It was absolutely comical seeing them rent shoes from a tiny Thai man in a tailor shop. We finally made it up to the 64th floor, and wow, the expanse of black with all of the bright outlines of skyscrapers and the faint glow of temples along the river, was breathtaking.

One of my most favorite things we did was actually outside of Bangkok. We drove an hour to the Damnoen Saduk floating market. We stopped at a structure with a coffee shop attached, paid for our boat and then it pulled up to the makeshift dock. The boat was a mix between a canoe and a longtail boat. We started motoring through the narrow waterways flanked by wooden structures. We would stop at a few, where they offered tchotchkes and spices. The topography reminded me of the airboat rides in the Everglades. After a while we entered what seemed like the real market. Either side of the river housed tiny shops with no space in between, the amount of boats grew as time went on. We would voice interest in one shop and our driver would bring us over, the shop owner would then use a metal hook to draw the boat in. Once in the heart of the market the food vendors on their own rafts began to appear. Luckily, the signs were in English, so we knew what we were eating. The whole sight of the heavy boat traffic mixed with the occasional oddities of snakes and other animals mixed with the pungent smells of the surrounding food made for a cultural experience that I will never forget. Riding in that boat, bargaining, having the wind blow through my hair, I finally realized I was half way around the world, and I loved it.

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