Today was our first full day in Bangkok! It was very hot and humid. After waking up I immediately knew I wanted to get in the pool, because it looked so nice. I was pretty much the only person in the pool, so it was super relaxing.
We didn't really know what to do today, since the passing of their King many things were shut down completely. There will be no celebrations, loud music and many bars will close for a month. Many people wore all black or a white top and black pants in honor of the King. All TV station channels were about the King and Google is now black to honor him.
Jim Thompson House
We ended up deciding to go to the Jim Thompson House. It was listed as one of the top things to do in Bangkok according to our Google searches and it was open. It took us 1 hour and 20 minutes to get there because of all the traffic. Fortunately, though, it only cost us each a dollar and some change for the taxi ride.
Taxi rides are quite inexpensive in Bangkok, but you have to be careful as they always try to rip off tourists. To make sure you're not getting ripped off, you have to only ride in taxis if they are metered. Many taxis will charge an automatic large fee to wherever you're going and won't use a meter (even if the top of their cab says they are metered).
The Jim Thompson House is the preserved house of Jim Thompson, an American who moved to Thailand. I am still unsure why his house is a tourist destination as his story is rather ordinary. He was born in Delaware during the early 1900's and was deployed during World War II to Thailand, but never actually fought in the war. While in Thailand, he fell in love with the culture and decided to permanently move there. He was very interested in the production of silk and built a large house that had enough space for workers to make silk. All was well until he went on vacation in 1967 to Myanmar with friends, and he disappeared in the forest. The tour guide said that there are no clues as to what could've happened to him, but some speculate he was attacked by tigers. Hmmm, not sure why the preserved house of this man is such a tourist hot spot.
Jim Thompson House cont.
After the 35 minute tour we were all very hungry, so we decided to eat at their restaurant. I ordered the Khao Phad Sappalot Goong and was able to substitute the chicken for tomatoes. It was amazing and my favorite Asian meal since coming to Asia. The price was very high given Thai standards, but still only cost $7.15 USD.
Thailand is much cheaper than even Hong Kong, and the USD to Baht conversation is very strong.
Tonight our host, Witty, offered to show us around. We walked to the night market which was about thirty minutes away. He first showed us a cool lookout spot where there was a great view of the entire market (first picture). There were many more tents than what this photo captures, and there were bars behind all the tents at the back.
The first four rows (at least) were entirely food. The prices were so cheap and the food was fresh and delicious! I had no idea what to get for dinner, so Witty helped guide us. Everything look so fresh and amazing, I wanted to try one of everything. There was also almost any food you could think of, and all of it was very inexpensive. For a drink, I got a mixed berry smoothie for about $1.14 USD! The guy made it right in front of me and he used entirely fresh fruits and no sugars or sweeteners (sweet!) He filled it right to the very top and wrapped a napkin around the cup (which is very normal here).
For dinner, Witty showed us his favorite Pad Tai tent. This was my first time trying Pad Tai, and I did not expect it to be spicy. Warning, it is very spicy and my face turned bright red. It was delicious though and only cost $1.86 USD!
After dinner we browsed all the non-food tents. They sold everything imaginable, from electronics to shoes to clothes. In Thailand elephant pants are very popular, so I got two pairs as souvenir for friends back home.
Normally the tents play loud music and there's a stage area for live performances and concerts, but there was no music or anything due to the King's passing. Also, behind all the tents there were dozens and dozens of cool looking bars. They were all mostly outdoors, and were all very unique - one was made out of a school bus. Unfortunately, some were closed and none were playing music. There were very few people at each bar also because of the King's passing.
It was a great (and very sticky) first day. We are planning on going to see a temple tomorrow (Saturday) if it is not closed. I want to get up early tomorrow and get moving, but the people I'm with all like to sleep in very late. We'll see how it goes...