Welcome to Khmerland
Bangkok >>> Bangor

Monday 6th December 2004

Today was our last day.

Thankfully we had arranged a 3pm late checkout so we stayed in bed all morning and we spent the early afternoon at the pool side trying to catch some sun. We didn't really mind going home whiter than when we left, we're not exactly sun worshippers. When we saw a pair of orange people who must have been to the tannery for their tan we slapped on the factor 60 sun block! The leather bound look may be great for classic books but the old wrinkly & withered bloke in the corner was only 28 years old!

On our way to our room we suffered terrible turbulence in the elevator which really put the shits up Julie! The cage was groaning and creaking, and when it shuddered she almost prised the doors open to get out of their quick. She was a bag of nerves after this and when we were checking out it all became a bit too much for her as she ended up asking the concierge for some drugs!!

She explained in detail her diazepam dependency whilst flying and pleaded for some help. The receptionist didn't quite know what the hell Julie was on about so she called for back up. She then in turn called for the further support. In the end we had four receptionists and the concierge listening to Julie explaining for the fifth time that she had "misplaced" (overused) her prescription. How she wished she hadn't started the conversation! Although she was rewarded for her perseverance when the concierge finally understood her and explained it to the gathering crowd of on-lookers.

They were exceptionally helpful and got in touch with a doctor who arranged for a consultation with Julie and then sent a nurse over to the hotel with the required dosage. Now that's first class service! You wouldn't get that on the National Health Service!! At 1200 Baht it was priceless for Julie's peace of mind.

We still had another six hours before being picked up for our flight home so we left our luggage at the hotel and decided to spend the remaining daylight hours visiting Wat Po.

We had been here before during our last visit but you can't get enough of marvelling at the Reclining Buddha. The temple itself is actually older than Bangkok having being built during the 17th century.

The name Wat Po comes from its original name Wat Potaram. Despite being enlarged in 1801 and renamed Wat Phra Chetuphon it still more commonly known as Wat Po. Probably because it's a far catchier name for us farangs to handle!

It was only 20 Baht each to get in but a 180 Baht for a roll of film. We headed straight for the enormous building, called a wiharn, to the right. Whilst the wiharn was huge it only just housed the 46 metre long soul inspiring statue of the Buddha reclining in his state of Nirvana. The feet are 3 metres long with beautiful mother of pearl inlay depicting 108 auspicious images. Seeing it again still sent shivers down the spine and goosebumps to the skin. It's just so exquisite.

Behind the horizontal statue we followed the ritual of emptying 108 coins into 108 bowls. With a flight coming up I was praying that Julie didn't repeat the bad omen of our last visit by running out of coins before the end!

This time quite the opposite happened as she must have had over 20 coins left over. Whilst she could have taken it as a good omen she was worried that it was very inauspicious!

Next to the wiharn were four large chedis. They were ornately decorated similar to Wat Arun with pieces of ceramics. The first four Kings of the Rama dynasty built one but only the ashes of Rama II and Rama III are housed here.

We walked further through the cloisters where over 400 Buddha images sit and entered the inner courtyard. It appeared the monks must have had a whopping big party last night!

People were just dismantling canopies and keeping the tables. The main bot was filled to the door with wooden chairs. Once again, they must have held some important ceremonies here yesterday and were in the process of clearing up.

 

Wat Po is acknowledged as Thailand's first University. It doesn't have that status now but they do still carry out educational classes within its revered walls.

In addition to the usual schooling it is also home to the Thai Massage School where they even hold courses in English for the visitors.

When we left Wat Po we felt hungry and were trying to decide whether to go to Koh San Road for some banana pancakes or down to Silom Road to where Andrew had mentioned served a decent pizza. We ini-mini-miney-moed and chose pizza.

It must have been rush hour on the Express boat service because it took over half an hour for one to turn up, and when it did it was full. Despite appearing to be bursting at the seams over twenty of us got on at this pier. God knows where we all squeezed. We were so overloaded that the boat was incredibly low in the water. We could touch the Chao Praya as it was only an arms length away. As we pulled up at a pier people literally had to climb out of the boat and onto the pier because we were so low in the river; it was very worrying!

We got off at Saphan Taksin as did everyone else! Three stops down the sky train we got off at Salang Daeng but by now we had gone off the idea of pizza and we fell into the nearest coffeshop called 'Coffee Beans' for a small snack.

We were shocked at the quality. We shared an incredibly tasty Cheese sandwich on a focaccia bread. They were just as fresh as the hotel's and a third of the price. After a quick scoot around another Jim Thompson shop on Surawong Road we were ready to return to the hotel.

We flagged down a taxi which turned out to be unmetered. Before I closed the door I agreed a price to take us to the Royal Orchid.

80 Bahts was probably twice what a meter would have registered but we didn't mind paying.

After last night we were just glad that he knew the Royal Orchid Sheraton.

We sat at the hotel's riverside bar, 'Eight Bells' and couldn't believe the extortionate prices for two beers and two sparkling waters. 800 baht!! Shocking! We moved along the riverfront to the only part of the hotel in which we hadn't eaten; called the 'etc' restaurant.

They had a great menu of world cuisine and also had a buffet option.

I went for their Indian selection and thoroughly enjoyed it. A plate of tandoori veg, a naan bread filled with onions and paneer called a kulbha naan, and then a plate of tandoori paneer.

The portion sizes were huge, and very reasonable at only 160 baht per dish. Julie went for a sirloin steak, drooled when it arrived and moaned appreciatively throughout eating it. She was also in food heaven because she had a proper baked potato!

When we were sitting outside repelling flies with our DEET laced wipes I had to answer the call of nature. I was in such a rush that I went straight to the urinal to relieve my ballooning bladder. I then had a little itch on my left testicle which I just had to scratch. That was a big mistake!

I hadn't washed the DEET off my hands beforehand and in a flash my nuts went into nuclear meltdown. What the hell was in that DEET stuff? The heat generated was incredible. My balls were on fire. There was enough energy released down there to have powered the entire streets lights of Bangkok for the evening. "Flaming hell, it hurts!"

I was so hoping that nobody came into the toilets because I was standing there looking at the damage in the mirror. With tears in my eyes and a scrotum like an over-ripe mango I frantically tried to reduce the inflammation by dousing my throbbing giblets with cold water. In my frenzy my accuracy was poor; I splashed a lot of water everywhere but where needed it the most. That's when I realised that my beige linen trousers now looked like I had just pissed myself! Aaargh! In desperation I stood beneath the hand dryer in some panicking attempt to make look less like I'd emptied my bladder.

I finally returned to the table with reasonably dry trousers, but still with a furnace blazing, to find a bowl of White Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream waiting for me. Oh, that cold ice cream looked so tempting. My left testicle was screaming to be smeared in vanilla. Before too long I lost all feeling down there, it just went cold and numb, which was one of the strangest sensations I'd ever felt.

The mozzie repellent had caused a severe rush of blood to the entire sack area. I only hope there's no lasting damage like a nasty rash, or a permanent swelling or perhaps a serious side effect like waking up tomorrow having morphed into Mosquitoman!

As the time for our pick-up neared we changed into our 'flying clothes' for good luck and waited in the hotel's foyer. The band had started playing which thankfully kept us entertained because we sat there in silence. Julie was deep in her anxiety and I had already started my post-vacation blues. I really didn't want this trip to end. The minibus arrived and we reluctantly got up. We turned towards the band and they waved us off. We stepped into the air con Toyota with heavy hearts and our heads hung low.

The moment we stepped into the airport Julie's stomach dropped. She was concerned that the doctor had prescribed her laxatives instead of diazepam. She held on for dear life as finding the toilet became a sadistic game of urgency. A race against the plop, so to speak! She was seconds away from embarrassment apparently.

Our last moments in Thailand were spent sitting in the airport lounge of Gate 12 watching Thai television where three female presenters were having a bloody good laugh talking about condoms.

I don't know when we'll be back but we will be.

But not until after Peru because as soon as I sat on the plane out of Thailand my thoughts were consumed by dreams of Machu Picchu!

Back to index >>  
ęCopyright Colin Owen 2005 Contact me at c.a.owen@bangor.ac.uk