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Back to Bangkok

November 27, 2009

I'm in Bangkok again. My daughter is with me for this leg of the trip and it's been nice, as traveling by myself tends to get lonely. We met up with friends for the first two days, and they hired a private guide to take us to the best sites of the city. The Grand Palace complex was truly amazing, with golden stupas, glittering so bright in the sun I had to shield my eyes, ornately carved temples with pearl-shell inlaid detail, structures covered in colorful ceramic mosaic, golden buddhas, the famous emerald buddha, and mythical statues everywhere you turn. The Old City was equally stunning, but in a different way. Crumbling brick temples looming large on the smoggy horizon, vertical stone steps leading to hidden caverns, rows and rows of stone images, most of them decapitated by relic hunters of long ago, and orange-robed monks kneeling in prayer. While I was exploring the ruins where they filmed the movie Mortal Combat, I stumbled across a cave full of bats. The smell was horrendous, but it was exciting nonetheless.

The rest of our time was spent eating, shopping, and at the spa. The markets here are incredible. They sell anything you can imagine. I bought a Dolce and Gabbana bag, a pair of Versace sunglasses, and six pirated DVDs for about $30. And we had mountain apple and dragonfruit smoothies where they cut up the fruit for you right there and blend it with ice. I had a two-hour massage in my room for $30. And at the spa I had a body scrub, steam bath, facial, and pedicure. Fabulous.

Today we went to Safari World, which is like our zoo on steroids. There's a drive-through safari part, with lions, tigers, rhinos, and all the usual, but in huge numbers. And then there's a walk through zoo and marine park with stunt shows and animal shows. The orangutan boxing and elephant show were great, but my favorite was Spy Wars, with pyrotechnics, things exploding everywhere, and people falling from incredible heights. But the best part of the day, and of the trip so far, actually, was getting to hold a baby orangutan and feed a tiger cub. You don't get to do that kind of stuff back home. We ended the day with the best pad thai from a street vendor in Siam Square. Loving Bangkok. Vietnam tomorrow.

Tags: bangkok, japan, thailand, travel

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