After a wonderful day at the Golden Mount we decided to stay an extra night so we could do a full day of sightseeing in Bangkok. The next obvious attraction was the Grand Palace but...little did we know Saturday was a holy day which meant I couldn't wear shorts!
We made it as far as the main square before we were approached by a charming older chap who explained that the military would have turned us back had he not seen us, and explained the reasons I was unable to enter. He then took our map and explained he is a teacher and most Thai people are friendly and had we seen the "other side" of Bangkok tourism? Seeing our faces, he quickly said - I'm not after money, but there's loads of great places to go which are not on this government map.. and which point he started explaining them all and marking them - and we quickly agreed this was the plan for the day! He them hailed a tuk tuk and negotiated a great price (in Thai) and we set off on a secret journey, listed below!
A Thail kickboxing rink
Next to the 4 Buddhas Temple below, is an authentic Thai Kickboxing rink, which the Tuk Tuk driver showed us before we moved on to the temple.
The 4 Buddhas
After taking some stunning pictures, we quickly were told we can't take them (!) (although this was written only in Thai so we didn't feel too bad). After some more ambling around - including seeing a Buddha which was over 70Ft tall, we made our way into the temple and startled another chap who was very surprised to see tourists in the temple - he even asked how we knew about it. Once we told him, he seemed pleased we had taken the trouble to go off the tourist trail and invited us to sit with him a while and chat which was very interesting. 30 minutes later we left for the Thai Factory. Photos below:
Authentic Thai Clothes Factory
This is no ordinary factory. Nor is it the awful tosh being peddled on Khoasan Road by street vendors. This is very much the real thing - made by Thai people for Thail people, and mostly for export. Very few tourists know about this place, and we were very lucky that today was the last day they were actually open to the public (due to it being the last day of a religious holiday). We weren't allowed to take photographs, but we bought a couple of lovely items (Thai silk) and are now in the system in case we wish to return - as suggested by the man we met in the 4 Buddhas temple :-)
A temple made of marble (different to any other temples we've seen so far). Really breathtaking design. Photos below:
So in a great surprise today, Jody (who lives in Southern Phuket) called me on my new Thai number and told me he is in Central Bangkok and shall we meet for dinner/beers. Naturally we said a big "Yes!" and it was great to catch up over a few beers and some pool with Jody, his mum, and a family friend, Mary.
We visited our first temple today - the breathtaking Golden Mountain. While there were several 100 stairs to the very top, the view was worth it as we could see for miles! It was also interesting to see people praying to the giant bell as well as hearing many smaller bells and chimes ringing due to the strong winds. Really amazing. Photos below:
A pleasant flight and with sleep which makes a change! They wouldn't upgrade us even though its our honeymoon as the flight was too empty (go figure? Ever heard of customer retention, BA?!), but the steward sneaked us some champagne :-) Off to the pool now! PS: the Disney Pixar film "Brave" is rubbish!
View from cab on way to airport. Pleased to report things are very different!