Our first item of business was to go to lunch with a fellow American friend, Mary Jones Ungrangsee and her daughter Anna. Mary has been living in Thailand with her husband and three cute girls for over five years. We ate some amazing food and got the inside scoop on Thailand. It was a great way to kick off the trip.
After lunch we hailed a taxi and headed over to Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace. We were in the taxi for almost 45 minutes and it only cost us $4. I think I'm going to retire here! As we were walking in the entrance people stopped us and said that the place was closed from 2-4 for a religious ceremony. They suggested we go and see the Lucky Buddha and Thai Center in the meantime. They even arranged for a Tuk Tuk to take us around to these places for only $1. Hmm, does something sound wrong with this picture? Yes, it was a scam. The Lucky Buddha was real but the Thai Center was a shop where they wanted you to buy over priced Thai goods. Don't worry, we didn't but anything. We walked in and saw what it was all about and immediately left. Thank goodness we were only out an hour or so of sight seeing and $1!
We finally made it inside Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace. The temple and palace were GORGEOUS! The grounds were so well kept and peaceful. Sometimes I felt like I was on a movie set. We hired an amazing tour guide who took us through the temple and palace, on a long tail boat ride down the river, on a food tasting tour, and a walk through the flower market. She was adorable and so funny. We definitely suggest hiring a guide your first day there. You avoid being scammed and you learn a lot about the history, food, and culture. Plus, it's so cheap that you won't even think twice!
Our long tail boat ride was amazing. We went up the river and turned off on one side canal. We observed kids swimming and taking baths in the river, watched people hanging their laundry, and watched the fisherman try to catch something for dinner. Along the way we purchased some snacks from a man on a boat. Our guide bought a loaf of bread for us to feed the fishes with. A little ways down the canal we stopped and our guide gave us each a piece of bread and then said, "put your had in the water and feed the fish". We were not prepared for what happened next. Hundreds of huge catfish came swimming and jumping to the bread. It was incredible and of course a little gross. You can bet there was a lot of shrieking and laughing coming from our boat.
After the boat ride we headed to the food market. There we sampled many traditional Thai dishes from street carts. We had yummy fresh pineapple, corn fritters, some kind of caramelized nut mixture, and dragon fruit. Eventually we found a little food stand where we ordered pad Thai. It was so fun watching the little old lady make our yummy food. It was the best pad Thai I have ever had (minus the rat that ran across Matt's feet). After we stuffed our faces we wandered through the flower market. We saw beautiful orchids, marigolds, roses, etc. If I ever live in Thailand I will be having fresh flowers all through my house. Most bunches of flowers cost about $1.
By the time we got back to our hotel it was pouring rain. Our street was flooded and it was flowing like a river. We ran inside and put our rain boots on so we could go out and explore the neighborhood. We ended the night with massages. Both of the Saras had an hour long foot massage and Matt had an hour long Thai massage. Each massage cost less than $10. Thailand is truly a dream!