Our ship docked at Laem Chabang which is the port for Bangkok. We booked a tour of the Grand Palace and River Cruise and our Canadian tablemates (Robert, Pam and Griffin) were on the same tour so we disembarked the ship and boarded the busses for what was to be an enjoyable day together.
Our bus ride took around 2 hours to get in to the city, during which our tour guide (Chana aka 'Happy Jack') introduced us to Thailand and it's customs. We became part of 'Jack's Family' for the day. We learnt a few amusing thai terms on the way. The first was 'The Happy House' which is the toilet. We had a stop on the way so we could use the 'Happy House', after we all got back on the bus Jack asked "so how are you all feeling now, Happy? - that's the Happy House".
As our journey continued Jack explained the dress regulations for when we went to the Grand Palace. All clothing needed to be modest. Women were not to wear any sexy 'Bow Wow' dresses or skirts. What was a 'Bow Wow' dress or skirt we asked. Jack explained with actions. It is any skirt or dress that when the wearer bows, the person behind them goes 'Wow'. The whole bus was in fits of laughter.
We arrived at the Grand Palace and were immediately set upon by hawkers selling post cards, bags, fans and other cheap souvenirs. Jack inspected the women's clothing and some had to wear a sarong to cover their knees because their shorts were not covering their knees. There was a bit of unhappiness from a couple of American women who couldn't understand why they had to wear a sarong when others didn't. One lady tried to take it off a couple of times but Jack caught her and was persistent. I know I'm generalising, but so many of the older generation of Americans that we are traveling with are so entitled, rude and ignorant of every other person on the planet besides themselves it is amazing. (I might write a post on it with some examples - Anisa calls them 'the angry old people!') Anyway, I don't think there were any 'bow wow' skirts that needed covering just some that didn't cover the knees. Jack taught us his call which was like a bird 'hoo hoo' and signalled us to gather and we headed in to visit the temple and palace.
The Grand Palace is a complex that consists of the royal residence, throne halls, government offices and temples (including the most famous temple of the emerald buddah. The architecture is really amazing with gold everywhere and intricate tiling. We had free time to wander around and explore. The photos speak for themselves.
I still managed to get a photo! The emerald buddah (carved from a single piece of jade) taken through the front entrance (thank you zoom lens). Very difficult to capture due to the distance and such poor lighting.
We then walked through a market to the river bank and caught a boat which took us for a ride on the river. We went up a side canal and stopped in front of a temple where it is illegal to fish and were each given a loaf of bread to feed the fishes. Within minutes there were massive fish devouring the bread but unfortunately they were too quick to get a decent photo of. We continued our journey up the river and it was amazing to see the houses built on stilts which look like they will fall in at any moment.
We got off the boat and met our bus which took us to a restaurant and show for lunch. It was one of those places that seem to be just for tourists but having said that it was quite a nice experience. The food was very nice and the show was interesting but there is only so much Thai dancing and drum beating one can take. The female dancers were beautiful and the moves they make with their hands is quite amazing.
From there is was a drive to a tourist shopping centre which consisted predominantly of jewellery (silver and gold) and souvenirs. Lisa bought some very expensive cubic diamond jewellery ;)
We were exhausted and tired from the heat and humidity and happy to get on the bus for our journey home. Having re-read my post it doesn't really do the experience justice, it was a really nice tour that we enjoyed thoroughly. I hope the pictures speak better than my writing.