Day 2. The Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Chinatown.

I don't think I've ever had such a busy first 'real' day. I started off with an early dart from Sam Sen Sam Place to drop my bags off at the new hostel (the current hostel - I absolutely love it) called Khaosan Immjai. It's clean, it's friendly, everyone so far seems wonderful, and it has hot showers - win all around. I was a little bit intimidated by the 14 bed dorm but with me being in the back corner I feel it's quite private. I'm happy anyway. Being situated on Sam Sen Soi 1 it was literally a 5 minute walk if that from the previous place. 

Settling my balance I dropped the bags off and started the walk towards the Grand Palace to meet my new friend. I feel I'm finally getting to grips with crossing the road (how, if you see a space amongst the cars, buses, tuc tucs, and bikes, you RUN) but it is still a little daunting. I bumped into a Dutch couple who were also heading towards the Grand Palace (why they were following me I don't know, I left my map of Bangkok in my bag... Luckily it's an easy walk to that area from the hostel) and we ended up stuck in the park. A little Thai man kept point to the back and said we couldn't pass through here... In the end he told us the easiest way was up and over. I'd already been on the back of a bike so why the hell not. Us three jumped over the 8 or so foot fence and went on our merry way.
Somehow I ended up completely bypassing the entrance to the Grand Palace so that added on additional minutes to my journey time which wasn't good! I had someone to meet. Then I managed to get chewed up in all of the coaches of people going in and out of the temple... I spotted a Princess Cruises' tour rep and then saw the hordes of socks and sandals heading my way. People moaning about the heat, the bustle, and the food it seemed.

It cost 500 baht to get into the Grand Palace which I thought was a little steep (that's about 10 GBP) but I felt it was one of those things I had to do, besides I wanted to spend some time in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Asides from being very hot, busy, highly touristy with people taking photos of themselves with guards and buddha statues it was actually very beautiful morning. I tried to keep an eye out for my friend but with the hundreds of people there it was just impossible.

The Emerald Buddha was astounding. I consider myself to be quite a spiritual person anyway so I could've just sat in there all day. It was maybe a little too busy - people wanting to just have a mooch rather than pray. I sat myself down in the mermaid position, people watched, filled my head with positive thoughts, and then watch the two Buddhist monks arrive, sit down, greet the buddha and leave. It was wonderful.

From leaving the grounds of the Temple you then enter the actual grounds of the Grand Palace itself which was so beautiful and open. The buildings were so architecturally interesting, the topiary around equally as interesting, but again I was finding myself a little underwhelmed. Beautiful as it was I just couldn't get over the number of people that were visiting (am I just a bit of a snob like that?!)

After leaving the Palace grounds and making my way back to the hostel it was now ready to properly check in. I went up to the room, dropped my bags off, and ended up getting talking to two of my roommates from London who'd been travelling all over for a fair while now! The said they were heading to Chinatown and asked if I wanted to come with. Since I didn't have any plans (and honestly didn't have a clue whether I'd end up in Chinatown on my own) I agreed and we had a great time.

We walked to the Phra Arthit Pier and caught the boat to Chinatown and proceeded to get extremely lost. Here's where the Lonely Planet guide totally fails because we didn't know where to go. The description in the LP guide makes you think you're going to be squeezing in and around masses of food stalls, food left, right and centre, a culinary explosion of wonderfulness. We didn't feel that, maybe we missed the road but the atmosphere just wasn't as we expected. There was far too much shark soup for my liking but as I understand it's part of the culture I could try and overlook it - we were in Chinatown after all. Unfortunately one restaurant had on display three shark fins. That wasn't nice to see. Nor was the very large grouper cooped up in an extremely small tank. I know it was there to be eaten, I knew it would be dead later on that day but to see it like that was pretty upsetting.

We were all a little hungry (even though I'd already had lunch) so we were desperately trying to hunt down this street of food that the Lonely Planet so eloquently describes... At a loss we went hunting for the name of a stall that it listed - a place called Jek Pui. The number of people queuing up for this tableless restaurant was incredible... I didn't grab a photo so I've had to use one found on flickr but you get the drift.


There were probably about 20 or so people in the queue (and this didn't change, one left, one joined and so forth) and another 20 or so sat down. We grabbed a chair and waiting for the man to come over and take our order. We opted for the chicken green curry with rice, setting us back just 30 baht (about 60p). Whilst absolutely delicious (and as far as I know it was classed as "mild") it was pretty bloody hot. I think I ended up drinking half of my water in one sitting because of the heat. I can't complain though...

Tummies filled, fruit fix fed (delicious apples from a stall, thank you), we started making our way back to the hostel for an evening of fun at the Loi Krathong festival by the river... It'll be another photo-heavy post so I'll save that one for another day.




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