Our first trip of the year, and first with D's new job, was to Bangkok, Thailand. We love this city - it is a crazy, hectic, hot, gritty, packed with food, and definitively has a soul!
This will probably be D's most visited city. Below is the view from our hotel room at sunrise. The city looks so peaceful and calm at this time of the morning.
The streets are a world all unto themselves. The traffic is chaotic and there are people living and selling things on the sidewalks. The man on the bike is selling honey.
He carries his honeycombs with him on the back of his bike. Aren't they beautiful and so healthy looking.
This is a nighttime food street. All the vendors pull out their carts and create full meals for under $5 USD. Yes, we eat on the streets and NO we never get sick.
He is such a cutie. Mom was so excited I was taking his photo.
They found a way to run electricity out to the street so they could watch TV.
Day with Fran
My new friend Helena in Singapore has a good friend Fran who lives in Bangkok. So she hooked us up and Fran showed me around town - it was such a fun day! We started by taking a local boat to the Wat Saket.
Wat Saket or the Golden Mount
I had not seen this Wat when we visited Bangkok a year ago. King Rama I built it in the late-18th century. It served as the capital's crematorium. During the following 100 years, the temple became the dumping ground for some 60,000 plague victims.
The stunning Golden Mount was added to the compound in the early 19th century. As you walk up to the top, you pass beautiful gardens and large prayer bells, which you are allowed to ring.
They say if you ring the big gong three times it will bring you luck - so Fran and I both took a turn.
Next we visited a very unique little neighborhood where they still create the large alms that the Buddhist monks carry for their donations (food to live with). In the past, the alms bowls were all handmade. Today, most are mass-produced in the factories. It is a dying art.
There is a small street of families that still make them. I can’t image living on that street – first of all, the tourist that walk through, but also the ear-piercing noise of hammers on metal all day long.
They are very friendly and will tell you all about the craft - hoping that you will buy an alm. They were quite pricey but understandable so.
Both men and women make the bowls, but it does require a great deal of strength. Each family makes a different part, and does a different job. The community makes about 50 bowls a month.
The next neighborhood we walked though is where they sell all types of statues for the temples.
Including fake monks! Fascinating.
Wat Suthat is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, established in the early years of the Chakri dynasty under King Rama I, but not completed till the rule of Rama III. The doors are said to have been carved by the king himself.
The large Buddha in the main hall dates to the 14th century. It was brought to Bangkok by Rama I, by boat, down the Chao Phraya River.
Inside the Temple are unique murals dating from the reign of Rama II. Unfortunately they are rapidly deteriorating. The best preserved ones are high up the walls.
I thought this was funny; someone put glasses under the elephant's foot.
The outside was equally as beautiful.
It has an impressive gallery of gilt Buddhas. I really enjoyed this Wat (temple).
And the unusual red roof. I could not find any information on why it was red.
Here is a shot taken as we crossed the road - told you traffic was CRAZY! I really had a fun day - Thanks Fran!!
Other Wats scattered through the city.
I thought this pig was going to talk to me! They put all kinds of food out as offerings to the Gods.
Late night snacks. What are they?
Here is a closer look....
Yes - BUGS! Such a variety and lots of people were buying them. We talked to a few young girls buying them - they prefer the little larva ones. Maybe one day we will taste them : )
D's favorite - any kind of fried pork or chicken product.
Pork with mint.
Egg and crab (yummy!)
Scallops with garlic (super yummy).
Minced pork with cilantro.
Shrimp with toasted garlic (super yummy!)
Oh one of my favorites - coconut ice cream! Not exactly sure what the purple rice was, but it was good!
I took a Thai cooking class and the first hour we visited a market to learn about all the ingredients we were going to use in the recipes.
This young girl is testing the mercury in the lobster.
The cooking school, Bai Pai Thai Cooking School (BaiPai.com) was about 35 minutes outside of the city. Their facilities were beautiful and spotlessly clean.
Here are the two instructors. The gentleman is the chef, the woman helped translate - but I thought he spoke English well and didn't need her to translate.
I have never used a mortar and pestle before. D loves to make pastes with them.
This was one of the dishes we made - golden pockets.
Here is the recipe for the golden bags (toong tong). They were very easy and quite good.
Here is another dish we made - roasted duck in red sauce (gand pehd ped yang). It was also delicious.
As they say in Thailand - Sa Wat Dee - Good-bye!