Tuesday – February 15, 2011 –
After a great day yesterday in Bangkok, I was ready to see more of what this fantastic city has to offer!
This morning after waking up, I decided to skip breakfast to save time. Outside I grabbed a tuk tuk to take me down to old Bangkok’s Rattanakosin Island. My driver was a little less than scrupulous. He said traffic was gridlocked, so the fastest to get there was for him to drop me off at the closest pier for the fastest trip to Maharaj Pier. He dropped me off at a pier on the Chao Phraya River. What I didn’t realize was he dropped me off not at the public pier, but a private pier where he directed his friends to carry me by boat. I was suckered into a $50 water taxi to the Grand Palace. I was a little pissed off that this guy took advantage of me, but I should have know better. However, I tried to enjoy the journey once I left.
The Chao Phraya River is one of the most important transportation arteries in Thailand, connecting the northern and southern parts of the country with the capital city of Bangkok. The khlong, Thai long boat with motor, is a traditional workhorse of Thai Rivers. More than 60,000 Bangkok citizens travel to and from work every day by khlong. I traveled past the main artery of the inner city commuter canal system called Klong Saen Saap, which runs from The Golden Mount (Poo Cow Tong) all the way to Bangkapi, a distance of some 10 miles. There are 23 stops on the route, many of them at road bridges. We passed a number of important tourist sites including the King Rama Bridge and Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) before we arrived at the port for Rattanakosin Island, the Old City, and home of the Thai government and monarchy.
I was the only person to show up for my Segway tour that I had booked from the U.S. It was probably because of the rainy weather earlier in the morning. However, the trip was on. My guide June gave me a private 2.5-hour tour of Rattanakosin Island. I had never been on a Segway before and the gliding along was so cool. People were looking at us like rock stars.
We toured Athit Road’s tree-shaded atmosphere. Then we glided past the hip shops and cafes of nearby backpacker ghetto Khao San Road. We saw the infamous fish massage where people would pay a few baht to have koi fish bite the dead skin off of their feet. At the end of our tour I had a small accident but just a small hand scratch from a fall on a wet spot in a park. Segways are not good in wet terrain!
After finishing and getting cleaned up, I took a taxi from nearby Maharaj Pier to the Bai Pai Cooking School, about a 45-minute ride north. Chef Golf and Chef Nate taught me, an Aussie and two Norwegians how to cook a four-course Thai meal. The four-hour course include Pad Thai, the national dish of Thailand, and one of my favorite Thai dishes. It was trial by fire, but the rewards were the fruits of our efforts. We ate our meal at the end and had the opportunity to bring the recipes back with us. It was absolutely delicious and such a cool thing to do in Bangkok.
After the cooking class, I took a taxi who dropped me off at the Mo Chit BTS station. Then I took the Skytrain back to Nana. I bought a Thai decorative lamp and a few other little things at the shops off of Sukhumvit Road. Then I went back to my hotel to take a shower and pack up for tomorrow. I have to get up early in the morning to fly to southern Thailand.