Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bangkok, The Grand Palace, day trip to Tiger Temple and the Floating Market

Okay, i figured now is as good a time as any to update, since I'm still laying about doing nothing with this blasted ulcer (damn you franklin, damn you). I fly to Australia tomorrow, via Singapore. The original plan was to go to singapore and see it a bit, but because I had to renew my passport in Bangkok, i've been stuck here. Hurrah.
On with the show..

Picked John up at the airport and the next couple days were spent shopping in the markets (Chatachuk weekend market, Suan Lum Night Market, Koh San Road, etc.)

We eventually decided to see the sights, so got in a tuk tuk who told us for 30baht he'd take us about all the temples..
He took us to see the great gold buddha..

and of course, monks everywhere..

Then after suggested we go see the Tourism Thailand office to plan our island trip. Little did we know that he gets free petrol for taking us there. He then told us we needed to do him a favour and go to various gem and tailor shops to get him free gasoline, since that's why he was making our tour so cheap (30baht is cheap). Then he told us we were finished and left us at mcdonalds. We wasted an entire day doing this asshole's biddings like complete dupes.

Lesson Learned. Onwards.

We got in a tuk tuk another time, needing to go to the Canadian Embassy for me to renew my passport, as Australia and Singapore wouldnt let me into their countries with less than 6 months validity.
The tuk tuk driver told us he'd do it cheap if we went to get him free gasoline. We agreed, but told him ONLY ONE shop, then embassy- he promised, and off we went.
we do the fashion tailor shop for him to get his gasoline. Get back in the tuk tuk and he says to us that the embassy is closed. Its 3pm, we dont think its closed. He assures us it is. We insist it isnt. Then we ask him to take us there anyway, we need to get there urgently and we dont care if its closed or not. No, he wont take us there. John pleads with him to consider the agreement he made with us, he knows what he's doing is wrong. He wont budge. I get angry, and my latin temper kicks in. There isnt much stopping me from ringing this mans neck, aside from John holding me back. TukTuk driver says he'll take us if we go to another gasoline place for him. I'm livid by now. I tell him he didnt keep his first promise, why would we believe he'd keep the second. He wont drive us. I tell him that if he believes in Karma like all the other buddists, he can expect to come back as an ant for what he's doing. We get out of the tuk tuk and have to find a taxi, but i'm still SO unbelievably angry at this man's indecency. I want to kill him. Thankgod John was with me or I would have. I take down his licence plate with hopes of reporting him to the police.
Finally we arrive at the embassy, and by now i'm sick of thai people trying to screw over tourists. You can imagine my disappointment when I arrive at the embassy and there isnt a single fucking canadian about. they're all thai. Everyone of them, and i cant even speak english tranquilly, i have to slow down to explain everything. Hurrah, I ask the embassy if we can report the Tuk Tuk driver, they tell me there's nothing that can be done.

Another day, another trip, we go on our floating market expedition..

John cant swim, so he's not so keen on getting into our paddlingboat that takes us down the market canals.
The lady who is paddling is chinese, and ancient, we were placing bets on whether or not she'd have a heartattack while paddling.

its quite tranquil really. hot sticky smell of morning, lots of old ladies and men paddling about trying to sell fruit and nick nacks..

we get to the main market canal and realize its overly touristy. Only tourist stuff is being sold really, and we should have gone to the floating market further afield, its meant to be more authentic. Lesson Learned.

We float upto a stall where there's a man wrapped in a boa. He asks if anyone on the boat wants to play. John tells me the boat hadnt even docked up to the stall before I was already jumping out.
No one else got out, it appears i was the only one willing to be wrapped in a boa constrictor.

Heavy little bugger, its a boy. John eventually wants a go, so he gets out and our paddle boat has to wait while John and I enjoy the wonders of the big snakes..

A couple of the girls on the boat were terrified of snakes, so they made us stay well away.

after the mini adventure, we continue onwards through the canals..

John asks the driver if we can stop and see the snake show, so we all go in to watch a few thai guys show off some snakes, fighting with them and baiting them. I didnt like it.. they put a mongoose in to fight with a poor snake whose venom had been taken away- of course the mongoose one, and the poor snake looked like it would bleed to death. Ick.

The next day we went to the Tiger Temple. The excursion left John and I alone in the middle of Katchaburi waiting for our connection to the temple.
We went for a wander to look at the bridge over the river kwai, for some WWII history.

Finally, we got picked up and hauled over to Tiger Temple Sanctuary.. or so it was called.
I wasnt too pleased. We arrived and were taken by the hand to sit behind a bunch of tigers that were in "tiger canyon" where they apparently go for "excercise". Each of the poor beasts were chained to the ground in one spot, and looked like they were drugged on valium since they were so docile and half asleep. It looked cruel, it didnt look like a sanctuary at all. And like typical tourists, we got the photos we came for.. though at the price of the poor animals' freedom.

And if you "donate" 1000Baht you can have the tiger's head in your lap, and a "free" calendar of the tigers at the temple. I know, its awful, and i'm ashamed of it, but I did it- when else will i ever have a tiger sleeping on my lap?

So now i've stroked tigers. I'm ashamed to say it, would you believe? In my travels i've gained less respect for people and more for animals. They're not meant to be touched, they're meant to be admired, and to be left to live. These poor creatures were at the mercy of animals half their size and much weaker. It was awful. Later we saw them walked from their "excersize area" to their homes. Concrete cages, smaller than the size of a bathroom in a middleclass suburban house. Concrete. Awful.
There was a sad bear in a concrete cage nearbye too. They tell you this romantic story about how the monks rescued these tigers as cubs from the hands of poachers, and were brought to live in the temple from the buddhist belief of karma and respect for all living things. I'd have left them in the jungle to try their luck with the poachers.

Anyways. It was a sanctuary, so there were animals all over the place. I met a family of pigs, who's mother thought i got too close to her babies (and she was right, i was considering whether i could pick one up or not. foolish, i know. oh well) when she charged right at me. My heart was in my throat, it was five seconds of sheer fear... but it was only a warning, i emerged unscathed to John laughing at me.

((moments before the charge))

and this creature is actually posing like this because he was scratching an itch with his antlers.

John feeding a small, underfed, injured and rather pathetic looking horse.

That night we went out to eat, and a woman who worked at the restaurant had a basket of puppies she was trying to find homes for.
Such cute little things, John asked her to bring one over to make me smile.
I honestly could have put the little thing in my handbag and taken it with me. If it werent for the hassle of flying with an animal, i would have. It was 3 weeks old.. and we played for an hour. He fit in ONE hand, curled up, sleeping.

The next day we went to see the Grand Palace..
Lots of glimmering glint of gold, the place is sacred to thais so you have to be careful with what you touch, and how you touch it.

We saw some soldier's marching, I thought of Joe and his obsession with drill- he'd have laughed at these guys, they were terrible at it.. sloppy to say the least.
Not like i can do better, but spend 2 years around the military folk of Britain and you learn to be judgemental with how they march.

these walls were made with motherofpearl


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