Thai Trip Report Installment Plan

Dec 9th, 2003, 12:27 AM
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Thai Trip Report Installment Plan

My wife and I just returned from two weeks in Thailand. We benefited from all the past posts on this forum, so we thought we'd attempt to return the favor. Unfortunately, work has piled up, so it's got to be done in parts.

11-22-11-23 Northwest from Boston-Detroit-Tokyo-Bkk. Flights went smoothly, but Det-Tokyo portion without working sound for movies or overhead light. They did provide a reading light, so I was not left to my own thoughts. A flight attendant did share with us that NWA stood for Nothing While Airborne.
Had arranged pick-up at Bkk airport in Mercedes through Royal Orchid Sheraton (B1200). This was done at the suggestion of Bob, who often posts on this board. We had too much luggage for a taxi and were blown out from the travel.I do note that the taxi in Boston costs 150% of this ride.

11-24 Chose to stay at the Royal Orchid because it is right on the river and next to a river ferry stop. We had been to Bkk last year and seen the major sights with a guide. We thought being on the river would allow us greatest access to the things we wanted to do. In retrospect, this was exactly right. A few atxi rides were mired in traffic. We thoroughly enjoyed the Royal Orchid. The view from a deluxe room over the river was great. The concierge was very helpful to our most dim-witted problems. The fitness center has four treadmills, free weights and some Nautilus type machines. Better than most. Two pools were good. One was 25 meters and good for lap swimming. The other was more relaxed.

Following advice from here, we were up early and out by river ferry to a walk through Chinatown. We had been driven through it last time and were intrigued. We generally followed the walking tout ouylined in Fodors City-Pak for Bkk. As an aside, we had obtained many guide books and Nancy Chandler's Bkk map prior to our trip. I highly recommend this excess approach. While all of the highlights are covered in each, there are differences in approach and emphasis. Also, a gem or two was gleaned from each source. It allowed us to broadly plan daily activities.

Took river ferry to Chinatown and walked to crocodile Wat. The croc in the pond looked forlorn. The stuffed original was much more menacing. We noticed that there were very few tourists walking around Chinatown. Walked down Sampeng Lane with overflowing vendors. The sheer volume of the goods for sale was staggering. Craqmmed into tiny places were peculiar shops. Bargained a little for a small item. Wandered through produce market amazed by variety of greens. Particularly taken with a woman lining up buches of long beans for display. Up to Soi Issapharup (Sp?) noted in N.C map for Chinese funeral goods. The colors and display were striking. Up to a Chinese Wat( Either on the New Road or a major parallel street east therof) where many people were making offerings the exact funeral goods we had just seen for sale. We were taken with the ceremony and grace and watched for a long while.

Lunch at Shangrila Chinese Restaurant. A Dim Sum delight recommended by N.C.. Wandered back to river Ferry, hotel and collapsed for a much needed nap.

At 5:00 p.m. the masseurs (female, I'm never sure of the correct gender usage) arrived for our 90 minute Thai massage. We had called the school at Wat Pho at about 10:00 a.m. that morning and made arrangememnts. I got the phone number off of their website whose address I obtained through a google search. (sorry, I seem to have lost the address and phone number). We had obtained massges last year from the Wat Pho school that had been arranged by our guide on our visit to the wat. It was just as easy to do on our own. The massages cost B700.

Dinner at Harmonique at the recommendation of this board and the guide books. The food was very good. Most impressive was the deep fried fish. I do note that the service was abysmal. The restuarant was jammed.
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Dec 11th, 2003, 08:18 AM
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11-25

Up early, watch boat traffic on river increase with dawn. Used good treadmill in Royal Orchid fitness center. Good sauna.

Took river ferry to Memorial Bridge pier. Spent several hours walking around flower market to the left as you exit pier. Proliferation of color and shape is staggering. Fascinating to watch individual blossoms threaded onto arrangements. Well worth the early rise and rolls of film.

Walked across Bridge to Wat Prayoon (there are several spellings for this and many other Wats). Our plan was to follow the Thonburi Walk detailed in the Frommers Thailand Guide. This walk is wonderful and there were no other tourists or Farangs on any part of the walk except at Wat Arun. One bad part of that was we were unable to purchase film.

At Wat Prayoon, we paid 20 Baht at stand (as you enter from bridge ramp) to buy papaya and mystery meat to feed to the multitude of turtles swimming in pond. Two sticks were also provided. We passed a delightful 1/2 hour feeding turtles and enjoying the near solitude around the pond. There was a Thai woman and her two children feeding turtles across the pond. We then walked around the "Turtle Mount". One guide book said that it was constructed to look like piles ofmelted wax from a candle. Interspersed throughout were portraits of deceased persons. Quite moving. We then walked to the main part of the compound. We entered a building "Viharn", I think) in which three monks were blessing two women who had brought offerings. Afterwards, we were approached by one of the monks who engaged us in a lengthy conversation. He had been a monk for 25 years and travelled to the U.S. several times. It was a purely secular talk lasting about 25 minutes until he was called to lunch.He noticed my wife's amulet portraying Buddha in the position for the day of the week on which she was born. As an aside, the Thais find the birth day of the week a critical factor in one's life. There are 9 positios of the Buddha. One for every day, except Wednesday that has two, plus one position for those who do not know the day of the week on which they were born. He thanked us for the opportunity to practice his English. At his suggestion, we went to the next building to view a large sitting Buddha.
We walked out of this Wat and followed directions to the old Portugese Church, Santa Croce. It was surrounded by old wooden houses that were the former Portugese sector. The houses remain, apparently, the Portugese do not.

At the suggestion of the guide book, we attempted to wend our way through these different structures to the next Wat. As promised, we got lost. A Thai woman immediately sensed our confusion and guided us through what Nancy Chandler correctly calls a labyrinth. It was a lot of fun to walk through this neighborhood and see people not dependent on the tourist economy.

The next Wat, whose name I forget, was somewhat under the weather. It needed a paint job and some refurbishing. Impressive, nonetheless. After passing many workshops we went to the lock crossing the Khlong towards Wat Arun. Last time, we had taken a Khlong tour by longtail boat that had passed through this lock. Apparently, the water levels in the Chao Phraya and the Thonburi Khlongs are different and equalization is necessary.

We got sidetracked through the monk's residence, but eventually ended back at Wat Arun. This is a major tourist definition and felt vastly different than our earlier wanderings. We ate lunch at a soup and noodle shop in the vendor stands to the East of the Wat. Thee diagonal structure of the Chedi (or is it Stupa?)was noticably different than the usual rectangular or circular configuration. Pleasing to the eye. Climbed up as far as possible for the obligatory view.

Crossed the river on a ferry and took another back to the Hotel. Relaxed around the pool. We were lucky enough to find some lounge chairs in the shade of a few trees. It was much cooler than in the direct sun.

Back to the room for another massage, arranged directly with the masseurs that had given us massages yesterday. The kinks from travel were starting to come out.

Dinner at Ban Chiang. This was recommended in a guide book as well as the concierge. Mediocre, at best. Definitely not worth the precious time. The food was passable, but nothing to write home (or here) about. My wife had fish and I had the grilled King Prawns. Neither was a bargain. At the end of the meal the diffident waitress tried to add an additional 200 Baht set up fee to our bill. She said it was payable in cash even though I used a credit card for the main bill. We did not pay this. I would avoid this place.


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Dec 11th, 2003, 12:59 PM
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11-26-03

Up early again. Plan to Jim Thompson's House, Suan Packard and shopping at Siam Square area.

River Ferry To Skytrain. While negotiating with the fare card machine, a Thai man offered his help. Key element was deducing the appropriate number to push so that fare could be accurately calculayed. Saphan Taksin to Siam is "5" which is 30 Baht. We continued to talk to this man on the train. We told him that we were going to Ayutyha the next day, but had not yet arranged a tour. He strongly suggested that we take a tuk tuk to the TAT office from Siam Square to arrange this. When we got off the train, he took it upon himself to arrange a Tuk Tuk for an hour hire at 50 Baht. This way he could wait at the TAT office for us. We were aware that there might be hidden motives, but took advantage of the opportunity to arrange the tour.

Off to TAT by the railroad station. There was no other tourist in the office and we received immediate attention. Arranged for Hotel pick-up and Bus ride up to Ayutytha, tour and boat ride with lunch return. 1750 Baht per person. While we were there, also arranged for a minivan ride roundtrip to Hua Hin for Sunday 11-30. 850 Baht per person.

Tuk tuk back to Siam Square with adetour to Gem store. When we arrived at the store, we were very firm that we were not interested and the driver took us without problem to Siam Square. We wondered whether the detour was the result of the Tuk tuk driver or the man who helped us on the train. It was the ease with which we were able to convince the driver to take us to siam Square that suggested to us that he may not have been the instigator. Either way, there was no problem and very little lost time. Only about a 3 block detour.

At Siam Square, we made the logistical mistake of shopping before sightseeing. In the Siam Discovery Center, we bought a light "fixture" that we had seen in a magazine back home and were taken with. This was at a store called Habitat, I think based in the UK. At another store in SDC, bought several ties, avoided the elephants because I still have the ones from the last trip. Walked over to experience (again) MBK Shopping Center's frenetic energy.

Finally staggered off to Jim Thompson's House. Here, there are set tour times. Short 15 minute wait. Time to sit in the garden and rest from our walk. Tour wanders through rooms/houses and the art contained therein. Pretty collections, nicely arranged. Very apolitical. At the suggestion of Bob from this forum, we ate lunch at the cafe. It was great and very relaxing. My wife was taken with the Pomelo Salad. This brings up a peculiar question. I take Lipitor for high cholesterol. One is not supposed to eat grapefruit when taking Lipitor. Does anyone know whether this prohibition extends to Pomelo? How about Passion Fruit? Both are grapefruit-like in taste.

We decided not to walk to Suan Packard and took Skytrain back to the Hotel. Pool and third Thai massage. The kinks finally came out and we were relaxed.

Dinner at Thara Thong in the Royal Orchid. We were to rise early the next day and wanted to eat there anyway. My wife had fish and I had the River Prawns. These are more like crayfish than shrimp. Ate outside overlooking the river. food was good, but not extraordinary.
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Dec 13th, 2003, 03:36 AM
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I enjoyed your report. We also had a wander around Chinatown and found the variety of food staggering and a lot of it unrecognisable!!
We first tasted Pomelo salad at the Harmonique. It had been recommended by someone on this board. We have a recipe for it and have made it several times at home.
Am interested to hear what you thought of Hua Hin- it was a long journey for a day wasn't it? (BTW, we stayed there last April)
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Dec 13th, 2003, 06:29 AM
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Sorry I'm still buried at work. Still no time to pick up thread. Ayutthaya next.

In response to Fiona, Hua Hin would certainly be a long day trip. We went there for four very relaxing days at the Sofitel. JamesA's description of Mediteranean-like breeze is entirely accurate. Much lounging.
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Dec 14th, 2003, 10:22 AM
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I love grapefruit, which we can only get from Large Supermarkets ( Imported ) so I settle for Pomelo Juice, next best thing!
The Sofitel Hua Hin is certainly one of Asia's best kept secrets!
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Dec 15th, 2003, 05:59 AM
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11-27

Thanksgiving, and a trip to Ayutthaya. Up early and decided to gorge on the "American Breakfast" at the Royal Orchid. The theory was that we would be on the bus until the boat ride back and no access to the multitude of street foods. I'm afraid that these breakfasts bring out the worst in me. I'm unable to resist. Fruit, bacon, hash browns, sausage and pastries. It was not pretty.

Picked up by minivan at hotel lobby. Taken to central location, where we were off-loaded onto a coach, as were a number of others. The coach was not jammed, but was about 80% full. Driving out of Bangkok, the guide provided many facts. I noticed that he continually referred to our location as it related to the airport. I suspect that he was using the one location that all of the tourists knew. Unfortunately, the sound system on the coach was abysmal. We were sitting in the middle, but could comprehend only about a third of what he was saying. He spoke English well, it was a technical problem. Here's a hint on these bus rides. Figure out which side is going to have the sun beaming in and sit on the other side. In Nonanthburi, there was a startling line of high rise condominiums. Sort of like a residential Maginot Line.

About 1 hour 15 minutes and we arrived at Bang Pa-In. This is a summer palace with well kept grounds. After a short walk, we were set free to climb the tower and roam the Chinese Mansion. The furniture and decorations were striking.

Back on the bus and into Ayyutthaya. You'll have to forgive me, the exact names and sequence are unlikely to be fully accurate. I'm without our journal or a guide book, when writing this. I'm sure that the sights we saw were completely standard for the bus-boat day tour.

If memory serves, the next sight was Wat Mongkol (there's another word in the name). This is on the outskirts. The guide emphasized the white reclining Buddha. The most remarkable aspect to this was the arrangement of Buddhas in the rear of the grounds.

Back on the bus. At some point, we passed the Japanese village. Apparently, when Ayutthaya was a world capitol, there were enclaves of various foreign contingents. We then proceeded to what was referred to as the Grand Palace of Ayutthaya. Essentially, it's a Wat restored with the help of the Burmese in the fifties and a broad space of ruins. There were a number of tourists riding elephants in a pack. The most powerful part of this grouping was the three Chedis (Stupas?). Somehow they evoked the past glory of Ayutthaya.

As a commentary, I was disappointed that it was difficult to get a sense of the layout of ayutthaya during its heyday. the sights we saw were isolated and there was no unifying sense. One guidebook suggested a visit to the Cultural Center to see a model.

Bus to boat. We waited for a Japanese Tour to join us and set off. Buffet Lunch was solid, but not exquisite. Floating down the river was relaxing, but it got old after about 2 hours. Still caught in a western pace.

Back at hotel, went for a foot massage at river City. This lasted an hour and began with a warm foot wash. The foot apparently includes the calf and thigh, but it felt nice.

Dinner at a Vietnamese restauant, Sweet Basil. A routine rice dish, but the main dish of beef, shrimp, fish, pork and veggies was cooked by us at our table in a nice broth. This was very good.

Collapsed back at the ranch.

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Dec 16th, 2003, 12:14 PM
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11-28-03

Toaday's plan was to generally follow the "Wat's Wat" walking tour in the Frommers Thailand Guide. Events would dictate differently.

Taxi ride to Temple of the Golden Mount. We got dropped off in a wierd spot, but somehow managed to find the Temple on top of the only hill. Walk up was accompanied by piped in sermon/speech/instructions (it was in Thai, so we have no idea about content, it was in a male monotone) emanating from strategically placed speakers. The view from the top was good, but not spectacular. It was worth the climb.

Down the hill, following the guide out to a street full of woodworking shops. It was fascinating to see the detail on the doors, arches etc.. bought a few wooden neckalaces for carpenter friends back home. We then came to the bridge overlooking the final stop of the ferry on the Khlong. This is recommended in several guidebooks, but we had a plan and were intent. Soon derailed.

The next part details our experience. It is not inherently negative. take it for what it is worth. We had a great day and harbor no ill will towards anyone.

After viewing the Democracy Monument from afar, we went to Wat Ratchawanda (This has several English spellings, but is also known as the temple of the Metal Gate, I think). On our walk to the Wat, we were approached by a Thai man just before crossing the street. he told us it was a Buddhist holiday and the Tourist Wats were closed. He suggested a Tuk-tuk ride for 10 Baht an hour to the Standing Buddha and the Golden Buddha. he said the temples( including the Grand Palace)were close until 2:00 p.m..Having heard of these approaches on this board and through other sources, we ignored his offer and pressed on. Crossing the street, we went to what we thought was a side entrance. Another Thai man approached us and told us the temple was closed for a Buddhist Holiday until 3:00 p.m. Again we ignored and entered onto the grounds of the Wat. Inside, we were approached by a third Thai man who told us the temple was closed. These were sufficiently separate events, none within sightlines of another, that we concluded that perhaps the Temple was closed and we would need to alter our plan.

We backtracked to walk to the Monk Bowl Village noted on Nancy chandler's Map. there are a few signs for Ban Bat so it's hard to miss. The monk bowl area is a little peculiar. As soon as you enter, it's essentially two parallel alleys, walking not driving, you're approached by one of the family members and a demonstration is provided. The first time, we saw the demonstration and talked for a while and then wandered urther without buying anything. Our original contact left where he was and began walking in front of us, continuing to talk. It had a definite "escort" feel to it. Nonetheless, we plowed on. On the second parallel alley (I recognize the numeration is random) we saw a middle-aged man with long gray hair who had some bowls to sell. His name was Somsak. He spoke very little English. His bowls were nicer. There made of sheet metal. Cut into six or eight pieces and the edges are serated by hand. The serations are put together and then welded. After this the bowls are banged with a hammer into the rounded shapes and then a black lacquer glaze is applied. They are very evocative of the temples. It brings a strong feeling of the bowls in the temples that are placed in front of the nine positions of the Buddha corelating to birthdays. We bought 7 the first day.

After Hua Hin, we went back. This time we entered from another street. We still acquired an escort, female. She proceeded us speaking in a loud voice to the other people. Once I heard her say Farang, I yelled Farang a few times and this illicited many smiles. We wound our way back to Somsak. It was clear from our second interaction that he had no memory of our first, about 5 days earlier. We bought 3 additional bowls. I think my wife originally planned to give a lot away and upon reflection, decided to keep more than planned. Hence the return trip.

Back out of the village to Thanon Bam Murang (Sp?). This was noted as having many shops selling religious items. This is an understatement. Buddhas, bells, monks robes, monks purses and artificial garlands of every variety. We wandered for several hours, buying a little here and a little there. The sheer volume was staggering. Did not see a single other customer of any type in any of the stores. A little peculiar bargaining for religious objects, but the shopkeepers did not seem put off. taxi back to Hotel.

Pool and neck and Back massage.

Dinner was at Jim Thompson's Farmers Market. Noodle dish and deep fried fish. Went to Muay Thai (Thai boxing). On our exit from the taxi, we were immediately approached by a woman and offered 1500 Baht 'ringside" tickets. having read that these were the way to go, we purchased them and were whisked to metal chairs about 10 rows back from the ring. All of the ringside patrons were foreigners. It was a virtual enclave. naturally, not much excitement was generated from us foreigners. It was weird. I'm a life long sports fan and was amazed to be at an event where the least interested people were the closest. Even front row seats in the NBA are avid fans. It was like there was a beuffer between the fighters and the real fans. Having said that, the fights were fun. We elected not to have our picture taken with the winner of the main event. This opportunity was given to the foreigners in the "ringside seats".


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Dec 19th, 2003, 08:38 AM
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As an addendum to the last portion, my wife and I upon our return to our hotel and lunch, jumped on a ferry and dashed up to the Grand palace. We had seen it last time, but were longing to see it again. Unfortunately, we arrived at 3:15 and it closes at 3:30. From the tourists streaming out, it seemed as if the information from the Thai men around and in Wat Rachawanda was inaccurate that the main temples were closed until 2:00 p.m..

As an editorial note, assuming we had been misled at Wat Rachawanda, it's peculiar that such a concerted effort was undertaken. The information they provided was consistent with no contradictory data. For instance, we saw no other people entering the Wat. While we could have been not near the front entrance, we were on two different sides with aview to the others. The lack of other foot tourist traffic suggests that if these guys were touts, that the potential pickings were few and far between.

In retrospect, we wasted no time. Our plans changed, but we enjoyed the Monk's Bowl Village and the Shops with religious items so much, we were glad to have the time to devote to them.
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Dec 19th, 2003, 01:10 PM
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11-29-03

Up early, ferry to skytrain to week end market. Off at second to last stop and a 5-10 minute walk. Chatuchuk Weekend Market, known as JJ to locals is enormous.

Used Nancy Chandler's Map to choose which sections we wanted to concentrate on. First, flowers and plants of unimaginable variety. Antiques of apparently high quality. Listed prices were high as $2000 US. Wondered whether this stuff actually got sold here or was the display the cruial thing.

Amulet section was fascinating. Locals were hunched over items with eyeglass to examine closely. Bought two, one for love and one for luck. Hope these are not mutually exclusive.

"Dream section" and Northern Market sections are humdrum. Nothing extraordinary.

Heat ing up we stopped for lunch at T.LOlue (Sp? it's to the West of the pet section. Nice and relaxing.

Puppies, kittens, rabbits, squirrels, turtles, snakes competed for our attention. There was a chipmunk like creature that was leashed to the top of a cage that was quite noticeable. Birds and Fish seemed overcrowded.

The sheer volume of stalls and people at this market is amazing. There seemed to be a constant flow of humanity through all sections. Some were merely crowded and others jammed. I'd love to read a brief overview of the economic realities of market sales in Thailand. To my ignorant American eyes, there appears to be an overabundance of items for sale with nowhere near enough buyers to purchase even a small percentage of the items for sale. How does this work? What brings out the vendors day after day, week after week? I assume there are sufficient sales.

BTS, ferry back to Royal Orchid. Pool and Massage at Mandara Spa in Hotel. It was a good massage, but the cost was three times that of the people from Wat Pho. The Wat Pho massage was the best value.

Great Dinner at Tongue Thai, across a Soi from Oriental Place, near (unsuprisingly enough) the Oriental Hotel. Contemporary room, Had Rice crunchies with sauce, corn cakes, beef "paenang", all very good. Pleasant discussion with female manager. She noted that Thai women have a very difficult time getting visas to go to the United States.

Back to hotel. Rearrange luggage to leave several bags at the hotel, when we go to Hua Hin.
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Dec 20th, 2003, 05:14 AM
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11-30

Picked up by minivan at 7:00 a.m. for 2 1/2 hour ride to Hua hin. This had been arranged at the TAT office near the Railroad station. It was somewhat crowded. I'm six feet tall and there was not really enough leg room.

Sofitel Central Hotel is fabulous. No problem checking in at 9:30 a.m.. Room in Colonial wing, private veranda, modern bathroom, huge showerhead.

Jazz brunch at hotel. Nice music and good food. I tried BBQ kangaroo. Nothing extraordinary. They did have great soked whitefish and very good salads.

Off to lounge in beach chairs. Brisk wind, but warm. Very pleasant. The grounds of the hotel have many amusing topiary animals. The maze is not up to English Country manor standards.

For dinner, we wandered into town to the Fish pier. Several restaurants were recommended in guide books. We chose randomly. There was almost noone else there. The food was adequate, but nothing special. We were attacked by bugs and had to apply insect repellent 9forewarned by guide book). Unpleasant to eat when slathered with repellent.

Wandered streets looking at shops. Knock offs everywhere. Bought "Ecco" shoes.

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Dec 20th, 2003, 01:08 PM
  #12  
joanh
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Hi Gpanda - Am enjoying your trip report. We're off to Thailand in a couple of weeks and I've found lots of useful info in your report. I had read about the monks' bowls in one of our guide books and was interested in them, but figured they were too big to get home. Since you bought several of them, I was curious as to the size of the bowls and if you carried or shipped them home.
 
Dec 20th, 2003, 08:37 PM
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also loving the report...looking forward to more...

bob

happy holidays
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Dec 22nd, 2003, 08:45 AM
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Jonah-The monk bowls come in several sizes. The large ar about 14 inches in diameter. medium about 7 or 8 inches in diameter and the small about 4 or 5 inches. This is at the top. They tend to be slightly larger in the middle. We bought 11 bowls. One large, 4 medium and the rest small. We bought another duffle bag to account for the space. The bowls are relatively light, so we shifted some heavier items out of our large bags and redistributed the weight. If you are pressed for space, you could pack clothing in and around the bowls and they would not add too much weight or space to your luggage. They're made of sheet metal, welded at the seams and covered with black coloring.

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Dec 23rd, 2003, 10:02 AM
  #15  
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12-1-03

Gorge on buffet breakfast. Back to room to watch Sunday night football on Monday morning. Lounge in beach chairs. Wnader into town, use internet cafe to put out fires at work (much ado about nothing. My wife managed to acquire a loaf of bread while ordering salami sandwiches for lunch. More lounging.

Dinner at Sala Thai, in anex to Sofitel. Fixed price menu was quite good. Only one other couple.

Wandered into town to night market. It seemed that the vendors were much more intransigent in their bargaining than those in BKK or Chiang Mai (last trip). Walked away from several purchases as a result. Given the total amount of differential, this was probably fiscally unwise, but it's my nature to avoid being forced to pay bust out retail. Immature, but accurate.

Bought a duffle bag to carry back the monk's bowls.
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Dec 24th, 2003, 09:14 AM
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12-2

Pathetically enough, I watched Monday Night Football on Tuesday morning. No TV in Cigar bar was a disappointment. More lounging and pool activities.

Arranged car through hotel for trip to and from La Mer, a restaurant noted in several postings on this forum. Again, there were only two other couples at 7:30 p.m. in a large open air deck. Noneinside. Staff spoke only a little English, but ordering was no problem. Food was very good. Again, we had the deep fried fish. Smooth ride back to Hotel.

12-3

Discovered buffet includes soft-boiled eggs. Beach life is simple. Tried to visit hokey Monkey Training Center, but monkeys were on Holiday, as were we.

Thought about excursions, but did none. Lounging, reading and doing nothing. gentle breeze, temperate climate (not too hot) and nice beach chairs encouraged sloth.

Dinner again at Sala Thai. deep fried Garoupa, kale in oyster sauce, papaya salad and salted crab. Good, except the crab was still in shell and too small to pick. Wondered how Thai's ate this dish.

12-4-03

Beach in morning. Pick up in minivan back to Royal Orchid in BKK. Every seat was taken. We were the first pick up so we got to sit in best seats, but it was cramped. Ride took 4 hours because we got stuck in nightmare traffic in BKK. Ride from Marriot River to Royal Orchid took an hour. Collapse in room.

At the suggestion of another guest, we ate at Celebrity Cafe, 86-100 New Road 30. This is just around the corner from the Royal Orchid. It was the very best restaurant we went to. The food was exquisite. I had a separate post on this place, but it is great. The spicy seafood salad was the absolute best dish we had in Thailand. Room was great and service superb. prices reasonable.
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Dec 26th, 2003, 04:29 AM
  #17  
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ERROR-The name of the restaurant we liked so much in last post is the Gallery Cafe.

12-5-03 Happy Birthday to the King. Decorations everywhere in BKK. We're from Cambridge, MA, the birthplace of the King.

River Ferry to BTS to see Suan Packard Palace. Unfortunately, it was closed for the King's Birthday. No tout told us this, but a guard at the closed entrance. Slightly amusing that when something is actually closed, there are no touts around because there won't be any tourists around.

Cab to "Monk's Bowl Village". This is a good time to discuss our cab experiences in BKK. Often, the cab drivers were not fluent in English. We managed by having the concierge at our hotel write the names of our destinations in Thai. We gave this to the cab driver and things went smothly. When we were out and this was not possible, we would name a major tourist attraction in the vicinity of our destination. As a last resort, we would point on our map. This waa amazingly unhelpful. We eventually got everywhere without any problem.

Bought several more monk's bowls from Somsak, the same man from whom we had purchased seven previously. It was clear that he had no memory whatsoever of our earlier purchase, even though there did not appear to be any other tourists around either time.

Wandered down the religious shop strip on Ban Muruang and purchased small items for gifts.

Cab to Khao San Road. jammed with young tourists and services for them. Many places where you could arrange day trips and overnights to sights like floating market and Angkor Wat. Cheapest internet cafe. Paid 10 Baht for Pad Thai from street vendor. Passed on many opportunities for tattos and body piercing.

Walked over to Phraya Athit. We had read a New York Times Travel piece on this road and were intrigued. It's a more laid back version of Khao San. Wandered through a few shops and found a peaceful outdoor restaurant to grab lunch. Don't remember the name, but there were many of this variety.

Back to Hotel. Pool and Massage. Dinner again at Gallery Cafe. It was just as good the second time as the first. All different items, but the taste was again superb.

12-6-03

Car to Airport. Smooth check-in. Flight to Tokyo easy as was flight to Detroit. In Detroit we discovered that Boston was snowed in and we got to extend our vacation by two days in the Detroit Airport Hotel (It was twice as expensive as the Royal Orchid and the view was not quite as good.)
Gpanda is offline  
Dec 26th, 2003, 07:57 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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splendid report mr. l.....i love having the name of your new favorite restaurant...it will be one of our first places to try in may....where exactly is it if you walk out the road from between the sheraton and river city (where the cabs wait)..

bob
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 26th, 2003, 08:20 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,929
Mr L---there is a tentative boston fodors get together being planned at legals in boston on jan 30...it is on the europe site....maybe we can connect..contact: [email protected] for info

bob k
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 27th, 2003, 05:03 AM
  #20  
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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The Gallery Cafe is located on the Soi south of the Royal Orchid, running between Captain Bush and New Road. From the ROS or River City, you turn right and walk until Captain Bush ends, turn right. It's on the right hand side of the Soi as you walk towards New Road. Also, if you have arrived by river ferry, it's pretty much a straight shot as you walk towards New Road.

We were amazed at how uncrowded all restaurants and sights were. Many times, there were only a few couples in the restaurants.
Gpanda is offline  

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