Thunderstorms and river cruises and Peninsula Hotel - first day in Bangkok
BANGKOK - Being on the 32nd floor of a hotel overlooking that Chao Phraya in this city is a pretty cool place to watch a thunderstorm.
It’s my first visit to Thailand and, naturally, first to Bangkok. So far, so good. I had fabulous and spicy Tom Yum Goong soup at the outdoor café here overlooking the river, as well as a dish of minced chicken that I wasn’t quite so hot on. But there was good lime soda and a fabulous salad with chicken, lemongrass, greens and tiny, tasty sun-dried tomatoes.
After that I went on what was supposed to be a 40-minute boat ride on the river, which was going to be followed by a walk through the city. But I didn’t understand the directions I was given and the kid on the boat didn’t speak English, not that I expected him to, and I didn’t realize the boat I was on didn’t go four or six water taxi stops and then turn around but instead went halfway to Burma. We didn’t turn around until more than an hour had gone, but I did get to say some pretty cool stuff along the way; towering hotels and fancy condos with acres of trees and flowering bougainvillea hard by corrugated tin shacks lining the river, as well as one nicely-decorated spot called River View Massage.
You also go past several beautiful wats, or temples, and you get pretty good views from the river of the Golden Palace; a real icon of Bangkok that I’m supposed to get a look at on Saturday.
There are tons of boats of all shapes and sizes; fast, low-slung ones for folks in a hurry, the express boat that I was on with stops every half kilometer or so, tour boats done up a bit like a Chinese junk, and small tugs pulling boats laden with tires and all sorts of mystery packages. The express ships have spaces set aside for monks and a couple time I was shooed out of a good spot so a monk in a bright orange robe would get the good view, and no complaints about that, either. Kinda cool, I think.
The city is quite the contrast. Not like I found India to be, no sir. But still quite the experience.
I snuck into the spa at the Peninsula for a treatment to help keep me awake and fight the jet lag. It’s an ESPA, which is based in Europe I think, and it’s absolutely tremendous. The most beautiful lighting I’ve ever seen and fabulous treatments, with tons of great-smelling oils and a bit of a facial, too; another first for me.
More to come later on Bangkok and, next week, Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. Probably a little Hong Kong in there around Victoria Day as well.