Bada Bling, Bada Bangkok

I am sitting in a small salon getting a $10 mani pedi, and I couldn’t be more content. Our stay in Bangkok has been the anti-backpacker experience (on purpose) and it’s glorious! We used my Marriott points to post up in a classy joint on the east side. Paddy is smitten with the Executive Lounge plus free breakfast and booze :)

We meant to go to the National Museum today but it was closed, so our only real tourist stops were the Royal Palace and Chatuchak Market. I am such an American, because I am basking in all the beautiful capitalism around here - such a welcome change from the communist countries!!! Everywhere you look you see glitzy high rises and bling-tastic temples. Scored some fake designer bags at the market for a good price even though I don’t know the difference of one brand from another (I picked the one with a tree on it).

We were tickled by the “textile museum” courtesy of the Queen when we rocked the Royal Palace. A more apt description would be “Ode to My Awesome Wardrobe”. Most hilarious part was the code name for the secret royal secretary mission to the countryside to collect peasant patterns so that the Queen could be both elegant and encourage local artisans. Paddy appreciated the air conditioning, marble staircases, and palpable feel of monarchical propaganda. He is considering applying to her foundation to support the local women of Thailand by providing the framework for foreign designers to make magnificent clothes for incredibly wealthy people.

Bangkok wins so far for best massage, although I was sorely disappointed to discover that Drunken Noodles is a purely Thai-American invention…cue vast depression. Our quest for my favorite noodles accidentally led us to the Ben’s Chili Bowl of Bangkok - Thip Samai, or the “authentic Phad Thai”. Super tasty!

Said quest took us via the amazingly inexpensive city bus system, to the chagrin of the local tuk-tuk and taxi drivers. Score 1 for the tourists! The locals were incredibly helpful, directing us to the proper bus route when our original line stopped running for the night. Best 50 cents I’ve spent on the trip thus far!

All in all, the whole experience seemed less “Hangover 2” and more “Mallrats” - not that I’m complaining. Would love to come back to Bangkok if we can! For now, onwards to Koh Samui via overnight train with the illustrious Marissa.

Stairway to Heaven

We made it to Bangkok in one piece after a lovely time in Siem Reap. The city itself isn’t much to look at - basically one long strip of touristy kitsch - but the temples were absolutely incredible. I wish I had done more research on the region before we came, but I settled for frantically Googling everything we looked at each night after we returned.

Paddy managed to score us an amazing deal on a swanky boutique hotel, so we could wash off the dust and grime from the road each night in our infinity pool. Day 1 was a tuk tuk ride out to the Cambodia Landmine Museum (Paddy’s pick) followed by an uplifting visit to the Banteay Srey Butterfly Garden (my pick). It actually ended up being a really nice combo - history + nature combined.

Day 2 was a very long, very sweaty, and very sneezy bike ride to each of the temples we wanted to see. Apparently I am allergic to whatever trees grow in the area, because my nose was dripping with snot the entire day. I am quite disappointed that my Italian-American immune system is being defeated by the hardy nature of the Irish system. Thankfully, my skin is better suited for the sun in this climate so at least I can console myself that I have some advantages!

All of the temples were fantastic, and I relished wandering around Ta Prohm as I pretended to be my idol, Lara Croft. However, my favorite was predictably Angkor Wat - there is a reason that it has such a name for itself! I really felt like I was climbing a stairway to heaven, it was so steep, and I was thrilled that I correctly deducted the purpose of the four courtyards at the top - they once were holy pools.

Paddy and I finished our day with a fried noodle and cheap wine picnic on the shores of the moat around Angkor Wat - inspired by a couple we saw the previous day doing the same. The picnic made our drunken ride back into town all the more fun, despite the squeaky pedal on Paddy’s geriatric bike.