After a refreshing nap, we were ready to meet our tour organizer at 5:30 in our hotel lobby. Krungtep Best Tours had been recommended by the hotel, and we had pre-arranged this meeting by email. We had to pay cash “Bhat,” which was a little scary to us typical pay-by-plastic types, but we knew ahead of time, and were prepared. We were signed up for two half-day tours with our tour guide, Lucky, a woman about our age who spoke very good English. We explained about my seafood allergy and she understood. It felt that, although we would be going on an adventure, we were quite safe.
We followed Lucky outside for our Thursday evening Tuk-Tuk tour of the city of Bangkok. A Tuk-Tuk is sort of a combination of a motorcycle and a small covered cart. The driver rode up front, my husband and I had a bench seat in the back, with Lucky sitting on a small bench between us and the driver. As you can see in the photos, Tuk-Tuks are less open than a golf cart, but there were no seat belts. “When in Rome…”
First we went to Bangkok’s Chinatown “Yaowarat.” Lucky had the driver let us out, then we walked through, seeing many Chinese and Thai products, from fans to clothing, to sea creatures I didn’t recognize. We had a lovely dinner at a sidewalk noodle shop, with Lucky making sure there was no seafood in mine. Lucky brought us napkins in her purse, saying “I know Americans like to have these.” She told us how tourists have to be careful—in Bangkok there’s no regulation of foods, so tourists can often get swindled, such as buying an incredibly cheap bag of rice, that melts into a plastic mess when they try to cook it. “But you are safe with me, because I know the good shops.” (Sounds like my grandma’s “You have to know your butcher” times ten!) The office buildings around us were tall, styled as if they were built pre-WWII, beautiful structures fighting dark mold, due to the extreme humidity.
After we ate, Lucky took us back to the Tuk-Tuk, and we were off to the market at Pak Klong Talad, the largest wholesale market for flowers and vegetables. We enjoyed walking through the vendors, the scent was indescribable, and Lucky told us that most of Thailand is agricultural, shipping flowers and vegetables to many other countries. No wonder there were orchids and other flowers all over our hotel.
We finished the evening with an evening drive on Khao San Road, and other parts of the city, with Lucky explaining about the kings, including the recently crowned #10, who had portraits all over town. We saw the Pass Royal Plaza and the equestrian statue of “King Rama V”. We were to have a quick walking tour of a Buddhist Temple, but I was not allowed to enter because I had on a sleeveless top and didn’t have a shawl to cover up. We took a few pictures, watching the antics of young monks frolicking within the gates, wearing bright orange silk robes with one-shouldered tops. (I was told later, possibly in Singapore, that the young monks are as young as 15. The adult monks wore dark burnt orange robes.) It was nearly 10:00 and we were very tired, but it was only a quick drive in the Tuk-Tuk back to our air-conditioned hotel for a shower and sleep.