Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bali, Cambodia, and Thailand: September 28, 2009

All material including photographs are ©2009 Ronald Dunlap / Doglight Studios

This was our last full day in Bangkok and our last full day of this trip.

I found the buffet breakfast at the Aspen Suites to be excellent, especially once the wait staff got to know your tastes. I had the usual, eggs over easy, bacon, toast, pineapple juice, a couple of Danish, and a Diet Coke. As Ann finished her coffee, we discussed what to do, and she mentioned that she'd like to go back to Wat Po and get the full body treatment. I said that was fine, because the massage was done fully clothed.

We caught the shuttle down to Sukhumvit Road, where we hailed a cab. It took a little over 20 minutes to squirm through the morning traffic before we pulled up in front of the north entrance. You need to buy a ticket to get in even if you only want to go to the massage school.

We bought our tickets and were assigned to two masseuses whom we followed into the massage room. I was surprised at how crowded the room was. They found two empty beds and we went into the dressing rooms to change out of our pants and put on some of the loose-fitting, long-legged shorts that they provide.

They put your valuables in a flip-top compartment at the head of the bed.

I'm old, but I still go to Gold's Gym five or six times a week. My masseuse kept complaining that I wasn't flexible enough. I guess I was wearing out her hands. When she got to my back, she had to stand on me with all her weight to move things around a little. She was unhappy.

Ann finished first and started retrieving her valuables from the flip-top compartment. She didn't realize that it was only hinged, with nothing to dampen the movement. So once she let go, the lid fell shut with all the force of a gun shot. I had my eyes closed, and because the room was so quiet, it sounded like a bomb going off. Scared the crap out of everyone in the room. Score one for the uncouth Americans. I grabbed my stuff, tipped my masseuse, and got the heck out of there. Laughing once we were outside, we found the exit and made our way to the river.

We were looking for the Tha Tien dock that was close to the Royal Palace. As usual, there was a refreshment stand that caters to tourists. Purchasing some drinks, we found the ticket window, bought day passes, and took seats in the shade of the dock's awning. The next ferry was heading up-river so we got on. It's really pleasant just being on the river. Much cooler, and the breeze is so refreshing. Ann read in the booklet that Phra Athit dock gave access to the Banglumpoo section of Bangkok. This is supposed to be a sanctuary for backpackers and those traveling on a budget.

First thing I noticed is that there were tons of Westerners in every size and shape. There are lots of ads directed at them for home-stays, youth hostels, cheap hotels, and travel agents promising the cheapest airfares available. We walked around shooting anything that looked interesting for the next two hours. From clothing stores to a large Buddhist shrine, we just snapped away. At 3:30 we'd had our fill and returned to the dock to catch the boat down to the lower end where we could hook up with the Skytrain. At this time of day the boats were packed with commuters, so we ended up standing the whole trip.

We needed to get back to the hotel early so we could pack and relax a little before the traumatic effort of returning to our normal lives.

We had an early dinner and then I went down to the reception desk to settle the bill and reserve a car to take us to the airport tomorrow.

I'd left laundry out for this morning and it was back in time to put into my bag as I packed and repacked.

Lights out at 10:00.