Another lazy day.
Our easy fatigue and failed attempt at reaching the Royal Palace on day six must have scared us off of the outdoors more than we even realised at the time, because on day seven we opted to laze about in our adorable little apartment all day.
By day eight we were starting to realise how fast time was passing and how little time we had left in Bangkok.. So we set out to see a couple of Thailand’s iconic markets.
The first one was a “floating” market called Taling Chan. And it was gorgeous! It was only a wee market, but it’s small size was definately more than compensated for by the quality of the stalls and the general atmosphere of the space.
It was set up half on land and half on a pier over a canal, with some stall holders preparing their goods from small boats which were hoisted up alongside the pier (giving the market it’s “floating” title).
Most of the stalls sold fresh produce and cooked goods, although there were a few souvenirs about too. But the food stalls themselves were amazing! There were so many foreign fruit and vegetables varieties that we had never seen before – in every colour and every shape. And we even tried a few things that we were unable to identify.. Some nice, extremely light, purple coloured rice crackers that were drizzled in the slightest amount of caramel. Some pretty horrible semi-dry, raisiny tasting, little Easter egg shaped fruit balls… We still don’t know what they were… Some thick, chewy coconut and taro flavoured pancakes. And a big Thai omelette filled with bean sprouts, peanuts, and all sorts of goodies.
For the most part the items we sampled were really good. We didn’t try anything too risqué.. But we really enjoyed nibbling our way though all of the local goods that took our fancy.. And we were told by one local lady that one of the oddly shaped orange fruits that we were looking at, was in fact a spicy ingredient used in Thai curries.. So it was a good thing we weren’t just haphazardly shoving things into our mouths..
And in fact we really had to do the canal tour because Sam had found out online earlier in the morning that there was some potential for ‘giant monitor lizard’ sightings alongside the canals in this area, and he was determined that he was going to spot hundreds of them along the way..
But regardless of his fancy the tour was good!
Albeit the seats were not deigned for long European legs, and we had to sit with our legs turned away to one side to actually fit into the boat (which was filled with tourists).
But the canal was really cool to see. There were traditional Thai houses all along the way, which stood out over the water on tall stilts. Locals bathed on their front decks, washing lay out to dry, window shutters hung wide open to let in any slight movement of air, children ran out to wave to us as we passed by, and the slow moving lifestyle of living under the hot Thai sun dragged on all around us.
It was a beautiful look into the daily lives of the people living alongside the canals of Thailand.
And we had a few stops along the way too. We got to feed some of the hundreds of Catfish that live beneath the canals surface (with bread that was fresher than any we had been offered in Bangkok – it was still hot out of the oven! .. And it tasted delicious… We had to try some..).
AND we had some delicious coconut ice cream from a man on a little boat who pulled up alongside us – How could we resist? he was so wonderfully entrepreneurial! – clinging to our longboat with his toes, as he scooped out ice cream for all of the hot tourists on board.
And by the time we reached the market again and it was time to disembark, we were all sticky and sweaty and ready to finish our tour. It was just the right length of time to be squished into the boat for, and there were just enough stops; it really was pleasantly surprising.
Oh! And we actually spotted some Monitor Lizards! – Not so many as Sam had been hoping for.. But we laid eyes upon TWO of the big bathing creatures during our floating tour and that was just enough to satisfy.
And afterwards we still had half a day left to find another market place when we were done!
Which was to be Chatuchak Market. And which was to be AMAZING.
Chatuchak Market was a huge sprawling mass of a market place. Getting lost there would have been a very easy, and probably a very commonplace thing to accomplish. The stalls just went on and on… Book stalls, clothing stalls, food stalls, stalls of chopsticks, stalls of glassware, art stalls, toy stalls, stalls of generic souvenirs, a gong stall, fabric stalls, bars, silverware stalls… Every trinket, every ornament, every thing that you could possibly want.. was probably there, at Chatuchak Market.
I could have shopped there for days if we had the time (and if I had the money..). And I am quite sure that if I return to Bangkok, I will return to Chatuchak.
We had fresh fruit smoothies and soft, skewered garlic bread, and Sam had “the spiciest curry known to man” (in his own words). And we walked for a good few hours through Chatuchak, allowing ourselves to become lost in the completely illogical layout that the market has taken on as it has developed.
And too soon the sun set.. and we had to head back to our apartment as the stalls closed down around us.
This was the day of ‘attempt 2’ at seeing the Kings Royal Palace.
And it was a success!
This time, we walked through the palace gates mentally prepared for the heat and the crowds, knowing that we were going to have to put on extra layers of clothing to gain entry.. And we did it! We made it in.
And I am so glad, because this place.. was like the very definition of the word “palace”.. It was like something straight out of a mythical legend. It was literally awesome.
The King’s royal Palace was a huge complex comprised of a series of temples, monuments, shrines and museums, and of course a massive mansion-like main building where the King actually lives – which was surprisingly western in style (a contrast to the rest of the complex).
The temples.. were gorgeous. They were topped with brightly coloured, glossy tiles, in a style that is typical of Thailand and creates an effect that looks a lot like a dragons back.. From the eves hung small golden bells that chimed in the slightest of breezes.. And there were golden ornaments of various mythological creatures standing guard around all of the exterior walls – which were themselves coated in small mirrors and pieces of coloured glass that reflected the days light. And these huge buildings also had extravagantly carved frames around every doorway and window, which were finished in bold gold and red paints.
The shrines and monuments were equally as stunning. Metallic paint, coloured glass, small mirrors, carvings, and gargoyles seemed to be the theme.
There was so much colour. So much gloss. So much sparkle.
My favourite pieces, were these huge standing guards who stood at the main entrance ways. They were beautifully painted and held the most unusual expressions. And we found out in one of the museums within the palace that they were monkeys and demons, although we couldn’t figure out how to tell the difference between the two.. But they were just so beautifully coloured and so impressively large.
I loved them.
And the garden in front of the King’s mansion was also a favourite site. It featured perfectly rounded trees springing up from perfectly manicured grass – a sight which looked a lot like something from a Dr Seuss story book.
Oh, and seated inside one of the temples was a solid jade Buddha, atop an extravagant golden shrine.
Without a doubt everything within the place, was ‘fit for a King’. And we wandered through it for the large part of a day in awe.