Sunday, 14 January 2007

The Adventures of Tomato In Thailand - The Beginning

Well....he made it!!! (No phone call from Dubai to say that he had missed his flight - it is a miracle!!) Although I have to say that despite having received our address in both Thai and English he still didn't have it on him!! We sent him a text message to see if he had been let into the country to which he replied that he was at immigration and could we give him our address....then, instead of calling to say that he had arrived at the apartment block, he wondered around trying to find us - got lost and had to be rescued by Moon (She obviously spotted this pale, hairy person with a big case and thought 'Ah this can only be Tom') honestly....for someone who is so intelligent he is amazingly daft!! (Although to be fair he hadn't slept and was ever so slightly jet lagged)

Once we had shown him round we gave him a well deserved glass of wine and sat out on our balcony for an hour or so to give him a chance to recover. We then took him out to Cheap Charlie's and for an Indian (I know - you would have thought we would have had Thai but the restaurant we had planned to take him was completely packed).

We started the next day by celebrating his birthday (Moon had made a cake as I knew that he hadn't had a cake on his actual birthday) then we introduced him to the wonders of the Bangkok Skytrain and took him on the Chao Phraya River Express Boat to Wat Pho (Wat means temple) then along to The Grand Palace complex, which includes the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Keow). Moon came along with us as, believe it or not, she had never visited either Wat Pho or The Grand Palace.

For those of you that are interested (This means I am about to give you lots of facts - sorry but there is not a lot I can say about sightseeing - at least the photo's should amuse....) :

Wat Pho or Wat Phra Chetuphon, as it is generally known to the Thais, has a number of claims to fame - it was founded in the 17th century making it the oldest temple in Bangkok (Older than the city itself), it is the largest Wat in Bangkok (20 acres split over two sites), it houses Thailand's largest reclining Buddha image (The Buddha is gold plated, is 46 meters long, 15 meters high and the feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl to display the 108 auspicious signs which apparently distinguish a true Buddha - I really wasn't kidding when I said that the Thais like their Buddha's big and gold!!), has the most number of Buddha images in Thailand (more than 1000 Buddha images in total, most from the ruins of the former capitals Ayuthaya and Sukhothai) and was actually considered Thailand's first university.

The Grand Palace complex (which was once the official home for the Kings of Siam where you can see the Royal Funeral Hall and Coronation Hall) really is amazing. In the Temple of the Emerald Buddha itself is the holiest and most revered of religious objects in Thailand - a Buddha image carved from one piece of Jade (It is absolutely stunning - the King is the only person holy enough to touch it and three times a year there is a ceremony during which he changes the outfit on the Buddha - there is one for each of the three seasons in Thailand.....Winter (otherwise known as Hot), Summer (otherwise known as Very Hot) and the Rainy Season (otherwise known as Very Hot and Very Wet)).

Ok - back to Tomato's adventures.....

('Why do we call him Tomato?' I hear you ask - just look at the colour he went after one day of being in Bangkok!! Actually he coped admirably with the heat and was amused and bemused when Moon dived for the same bit of shade he was heading for!!).

We had a lovely, and very late, lunch at the Oriental Hotel down by the river (It is known as the Raffles of Bangkok) and had a very enjoyable afternoon drinking beer and looking (erm.... that should be laughing) at old photographs - and not just old photo's of us (I would like to remind you that I have the technology and it would not be difficult to scan said photos onto the computer and post them onto this blog - so you had all better be nice!!). We then headed out to a couple of bars and watched with glee as Tom turned slightly green at the smell of mangled dried squid. I am not actually being funny when I say mangled - not sure if you can see properly in the photo but the squid is dried then put through a small mangle on the back of the sellers bike (Just like the one Granny used to use for the washing - only slightly smaller) and is then hung on the frame connected to the bike. I cannot describe how gross this is - I may eat frogs legs but draw the line at mangled squid!!. Tom was slightly worse for wear at the end of the evening (and is going to kill me for adding these photos :-))

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