We had an amazing day discovering Bangkok’s temples and watching a muay thai match with our friends Amandine and Laurent of yoloamlo! I mean, AmandeLolo. They both arrived at the Loog Choob Homestay around 7 am straight from the airport after their long Paris to Bangkok flight. They will be joining us at the guesthouse for two nights before we leave for Yangon, Myanmar and they move on to Krabi, Thailand as part of their own three month sabbatical in Southeast Asia.
After settling in for a short time we were on our way off into a long day in Bangkok on foot.
From our guesthouse, the closest temple is the Wat Saket (Golden Mount).
At the base of the hill, we neither heard, saw nor spoke any evil.
We climbed some very flat steps to reach the top of the spiral staircase. And rejoiced by making some noise.
And posing in front of the large golden stupa at the top.
The interior of the temple was very peaceful, a breeze blew through the partially gold-leafed Buddha statues.
We then explored some of the minor temples and buildings surrounding Wat Saket. For a warm welcome to Southeast Asia, Maurice and I decided to play a prank on Laurent by stealing his shoes from outside the very first temple where we had to take off our shoes. (Make sure closed captions are on for the video below).
Then we proceeded walking through Bangkok’s old town, walking past the Giant Swing and explored a couple other temples in that area.
Finally making our way to another major attraction Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha Temple).
Amandine and I were immodestly wearing tank tops and shorts so we had some fun with our mandatory temple uniforms.
Bright green in the temple housing the reclining Buddha.
Blue and floral pink in a neighboring temple.
We also talked to a lady about their campaign to prevent businesses and people from disrespecting Buddha by producing and buying Buddha heads as decoration (tattoos, t-shirts) or utilitarian items (lamps, plant pots). It doesn’t really happen to any other supreme being of a major monotheistic religion, she had a good point. Amandine wrote a nice postcard to tell a Brooklyn-based company to stop producing faux Buddhist keychains, throw pillows and other trendy home décor objects.
I tried to find us a nice restaurant for lunch in the Wat Pho area. We walked through some sketchy sparsely populated market / warehouse blocks until we found ESS Eat Sight Story, an inviting and well-designed riverfront restaurant. The restaurant was situated along the Chao Phraya river and we could see Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) across the river under a veil of scaffolding. We rested our weary legs and lingered over a long lunch, basking in the air-conditioned and WiFi-enabled glory. Each of us had a Thai iced tea.
And some classic Thai food.
We blinked as the bill came out to be a lot more than we expected. No big deal for an occasional meal, but we have to set price-expectations to Thailand and not Manhattan, USA anymore.
After all, we didn’t get to see the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha (Wat Phrakaew) in time. We however didn’t miss out on a classic Bangkok experience. Scammers tried the “Big Buddha” scam on us repeatedly.
Sorry sir, the Grand Palace is closed! But have you been to the Big Buddha? (Or Lucky Buddha). I can take you there, let’s go!
It’s a scam to drive you to some overpriced gem shop and then take you to some obscure Buddha statue afterwards.
We kept declining and walking away about six different times. I think at one point Amandine said, yes we already saw the Big Buddha, thank you. Finally we realized the Grand Palace really is closed as we saw hundreds of tourists stream out of the actual entrance at 3:30 pm. Tomorrow, we really have to see it first thing.
We walked back to the Loog Choob Homestay, a pretty long walk through a lot of government and municipal buildings as well as at least a thousand giant portraits of the wise and benevolent His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej Rama IX of Thailand.
We went to 7-Eleven to reload on water and snacks. Took some more obligatory Lays chips photos.
We saw some graffiti affirming we’re finally made it here in the big city.
And even saw a meter-long Komodo dragon hanging out in the canal. There was another smaller Komodo dragon nearby too.
On our walk, we passed by the Rajadamnerm Stadium which happened to be hosting one of its thrice weekly muay thai matches that night. We agreed to come back for the match after freshening up in the hotel.
We were about an hour late for the muay thai fight night which consisted of nine matches with weight groups ranging from 85 to 126 pounds. The seventh match was the headline show featuring the heavyweights at a whopping 126 pounds each. I think almost all Americans who want to fight may not be able to find Thai opponents based on weight alone.
We sat in the foreigner (farang) section and likewise paid the farang price too ($42), probably ten times what the locals pay.
Each match starts with a traditional dance.
Then the catchy music starts (there’s actually a live band playing which is pretty awesome) and the opponents have at it.
The energy was great in Rajadamnerm Stadium as locals were holding up hand signs and yelling their bets to bookies who effortlessly captured all the info, collected and paid out during each of the nine rounds. We were almost afraid we would raise a hand up to stretch and accidentally put 10,000 bahts on blue.
All four of us missed it, but there was a KO during the fifth match. Maurice and I had walked to the other side of the stadium for a restroom break, as we walked back to the ring, we saw medics take out the fighter on a stretcher. Laurent and Amandine had paused to look at something on Amandine’s phone for a split-second and missed the defining hit that led to the KO.
We took a lot of photos from the exciting matches anyway. Check out those rippling abs.
They make this look easy. Though I’m sure I’d pull a muscle before making any sort of contact.
Most people left after the headline match (the seventh). We stayed till the end (the ninth). I was a little bit horrified but mostly curious to wait until the end to see the 85 pound children beat the crap out of each other.
Little Boy Blue gave it his best shot, but Red was clearly much better trained. I’m sure nobody bullies them in school, I know I wouldn’t!
We skipped dinner that night since all four of us were exhausted. AmLo more tired than us, as I would expect since they just hopped off a 10+ hour flight. Tomorrow we’re starting early and attempting to tick off all the Bangkok highlights we missed today plus more.