Day 19 | Exploring Bangkok temples and muay thai with Amandine and Laurent

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.

Monkey see, monkey do

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.

Golden Mount

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).

Wat Pho

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.

Wat Pho temple fashion

Blue and floral pink in a neighboring temple.

More temple fashion from yoloammi

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.

ESS thai iced tea

And some classic Thai food.

ESS 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.

Prey for scammers at Grand Palace

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.

Lays chip fun

We saw some graffiti affirming we’re finally made it here in the big city.

Bangkok graffiti

And even saw a meter-long Komodo dragon hanging out in the canal. There was another smaller Komodo dragon nearby too.

Komodo dragon

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.

Rajadamnern Stadium

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.

Farang only

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.

Rippling abs in muay thai

They make this look easy. Though I’m sure I’d pull a muscle before making any sort of contact.

Muay thai high kick

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.

8 thoughts on “Day 19 | Exploring Bangkok temples and muay thai with Amandine and Laurent

  • March 4, 2016 at 1:23 am

    Love your choice of pics, especially our temple outfits! We looked so stylish Mimi 🙂 Was so much fun visiting Bangkok together!

  • March 4, 2016 at 2:05 am

    What a fun day! I’m glad you were not quite close enough to catch my panicked “bah merde” when I couldn’t find my shoes in the video :).

  • March 4, 2016 at 2:17 am

    Great fun with you two! Laurent sorry for pranking you so early in the morning. I just could not resist.

  • March 4, 2016 at 2:18 am

    Your three are as good as the monkeys to pretend “neither heard, saw nor spoke any evil”. There are many empty seats at the muay thai fight, so it is the foreigners funding their sport?

    • March 4, 2016 at 3:17 am

      I added another video to the blog post showing the lively locals betting big money in the crowded locals section to our left:

  • March 4, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    The more, the merrier ! poor Laurent , I can imagine his fright.

  • March 6, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    were those TEVAS that you stole from lolo?! lol

  • Pingback: Day 62 | Visit of the Marble Mountains and scenic train ride to Hue – yolomimo

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