Okay so you are in Thai…sleezy, you are most likely nursing a headache, the result of one too many Sang Som buckets; a rather sweet Thai whiskey that you are sure to get well acquainted with both on the way in and the way out, you are wondering why you just paid R100 to watch an elderly Thai woman have Birds fly out of her Vagina…but more importantly you are wondering what next.
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when they visit Thailand is they either doesn’t go to Bangkok at all or they only use it as a stopover. In my eyes this is like skipping Rome when you are in Italy or skipping out London when you visit the United Kingdom. Sure there’s a chance you will sit in hours of traffic or catch a wiff of what I can only describe as death from an exposed sewer but Bangkok really does have its own charm that simply should not be missed.
Probably one of the most popular attractions in Bangkok is the Royal/ Grand Palace. The most important thing to remember when visiting the Palace is that there is a strict dress code. The Palace is like the holy of holies for Thai’s so don’t disrespect it. Both men and woman should have their legs down to their ankles covered with their shirt sleeves below their elbows with no other skin exposed. There are a few stalls outside selling sarongs to visitors; there is also a rather convenient hiring station inside the palace that provides forgetful visitors with long pants and shirts. I wouldn’t recommend this though as the line tends to get rather long and the exact change is required to pay for the clothes, so go prepared.
The palace is truly indescribable, as Mike Myers would say: ‘goooollllllllllllllllllld’. Any other place covered in so much gold would either just be plain tacky or be the Oriental Plaza, The Palace however comes across as ‘historical chic’.
Entrance is 400 Baht pp. The Grand Palace is open every day from 8:30 to 3:30, unless it’s being used for a state function, which is quite rare. Be careful of touts working outside the palace area who tell you it’s closed. Free guided tours in English are available at 10:00, 10:30, 1:30 and 2:00. You can also rent an audio guide for about 100 Baht.
Once finished touring the palace there is a great little market (authentic Thai) just to the right of the entrance the palace, its hot and its sticky but you will easily be able to pick up fresh fruit, some flavoured ice and even some cheap shoes tucked away in some dark corner. Try the fresh popcorn for about R1.50 or the huge packets of strawberries the size of your fist, swimming in sugar for just under R5. There are virtually no tourists in the market and I found the atmosphere rather relaxing…until I stood on a rat the size of a small child.
More to come.