So the trip wasn't all about temples, artists, and artifacts. We did do some fun things for the kids too. W took them to a very nice ice rink on the top floor of Central Plaza to go ice skating. It was Oliver's first time on skates, and he loved it. Owen, of course, made it look like he's been skating regularly for years. But I think Derek had the most fun of all to be with his little dudes on the ice!
We also took the boys to Kidzania at Siam Paragon. It's like a children's museum but the play is more directed. Kids get to choose a "job," learn about the job, do the job, and earn "money" for participating. It was fun for the afternoon, though Oliver was a bit too young yet to really enjoy all the activities. Owen had a blast. He learned how to drive, became a fire-fighter, became a paramedic, became a pilot, climbed a building (?), and just generally enjoyed all his options. Ollie got to do the fire-fighter activity, but he was too little for pretty much everything else. He played in the sandbox, colored some pictures, and checked out the ball pit. It was not nearly as exciting for him. Still, if we ever find ourselves in Bangkok for a couple of days, we will hit this place again, and I guess its time to visit Vietopia in District 7 right here in HCMC too.
It seems to be a theme in Bangkok to find old, traditional Thai buildings, transport them to Bangkok and then combine them with other old, traditional buildings to create a large, fancy residence. It was true with the Jim Thompson House, and it was the same with the Suan Pakkad Palace.
The architecture was very interesting, but I was completely blow away by the ancient artifacts that were housed in the on-site museum. Pottery dated back to 2,000BC. Jewelry worn 3,000 years ago. And so much bronze! It was breathtaking. We were not allowed to take photos of the artifacts, but I assure you, they are incredible to view! One of those reminders in life that our time here is short but what we do can have a last impact on the world around us...
It was a lovely morning, but I think the kids had more fun at Kidzania that afternoon...
On Saturday morning, we went to an impressively large market in Bangkok. This place was incredible and had everything you could possible imagine. And it wasn't just tourist stuff. There was great art, handcrafted soaps, beautiful dress shops, and lots of food stalls.
I easily could have spent the entire day wandering around the market, but the little dudes were not all that into it. We only stayed for a few hours and did not buy very much. It's important to know that you are expected to barter here, and you have to pay 2 Baht to use the toilet. I know it's cheap, but don't get caught without change and a three-year-old who needs to go!
On our first full day in Bangkok, we joined up with some of our friends to do a guided tour of a few key sites around the city. It was just their family and ours, so it was a pretty personalized tour. I loved having a guide at the Grand Palace and the wats we visited because she was able to add context to the beauty we were seeing.
The van picked up our friends first (same family we traveled with in Hong Kong) and then came right to our hotel to get us. Our first stop on the tour was the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha Temple also called Wat Phra Kaew.
The Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha Temple are beautiful places, and I am glad my family had a chance to see them, but they were very crowded. I mean, it was ridiculously busy. I had been to these sites back in September, and they were no where near as busy as they were the day of our tour. In fact theEmerald Buddha Temple was so busy that I chose not to go in to see it. I wanted to keep Oliver out with me (I hate how people touch him so much in crowded settings), but he was adamant that he would see the Emerald Buddha. So Derek was Super Dad and fought the crowd with both kids to see the statue. Meanwhile, I stayed outside and talked with our guide and learned that the Emerald Buddha was carved over 2,000 years ago and has followed different rulers all over SE Asia.
The next stop on the tour was Wat Pho which is home to the giant, gold, reclining Buddha. It, too, was beyond crowded.
The canal tour was a great way to end the day. We got off the boat by a neighborhood temple and then were taken via the van back to our hotel. It was a nice tour, and our guide was kind and knowledgeable. We saw a lot of Bangkok and learned some history all while hanging out with friends. Very cool day!
Tour Company: Pandan Tour
We left Krabi early on January 1st to fly back to Bangkok. We got in around lunchtime, settled into our amazing hotel, and then walked a few blocks (okay, enough blocks for Oliver to pass out on Derek's shoulders) to Siam Paragon Mall. In the basement of this city-sized mall is a beautiful aquarium with a huge sea-horse exhibit, an octopus, a great jelly fish viewing area, and a bunch of sharks. The boys even got to pet a starfish. I didn't take too many pictures simply because the lighting in there was horrible for picture taking.
The aquarium was a great way to kick off our stay in Bangkok. We followed in up by stopping into a pizzaria on the walk back to our hotel. We were surprised to see that a rather large night market had erected itself near our hotel in the time we had been gone. We skipped it that night because we were all exhausted, but made sure to hit it up later in the week.