Backpacking Indochina Day 1 – Grand Palace and Water Guns

Our first legit group photo (c) Roan Guerrero

Our first legit group photo (c) Roan Guerrero

Day 0: Manila to Bangkok, Thailand

At half past five, we were already awake. I have never felt a very relaxing two and a half hour sleep in three years. The first thing that came to me was: Who is Golden? (Just kidding!). I was looking for hot water so I can have coffee. And that frustrated me for more than a week until finally having a coffee, IN VIETNAM! You see the time frame? You do the math. Anyway, Tikoy told us to be downstairs before 7AM, all done with shower and breakfast.

Few minutes and we’re off. The street was quiet, contrary to what we’ve seen the past night. Little did we know that it will be just hours away until the street we traversed will be full of people armed with giant water guns targeting people crossing the street. We stopped by a money changer at Khao San Road but it was still closed. We carried on with our walk until we reached a huge grassland overlooking the Grand Palace Complex. We had some photos taken–solo pics, and a mandatory group shot.

Photobombed by our travel coordinator Tikoy :)

Photobombed by our travel coordinator Tikoy🙂

Upon entering the Grand Palace, Tikoy gathered us to say that she’ll give us an hour to roam around and go back to the designated meeting place. We knew no one that time so we roamed the complex by just the three of us.

Artists think differently, sometimes weird. To tell you honestly, I was in awe while looking at the pictures of the Grand Palace. But being a Sagittarius born in the year of snake, I am the type of person that is pretty hard to please. Grand Palace is a complex with temples too juxtaposed you cannot capture a photo of a temple without capturing another. Quite complicated? Yes because it’s a COMPLEX! See? Complicated? Complex? (WALEY!)

Multiple temples captured in one shot

Multiple temples captured in one shot

We scoured the entire complex for some photo ops, looking for the best angle. But the thing about this is that once you managed to get a spot, people from all directions will appear. Am I a magnet? The last time I checked, I have a magnetic personality, but nope, definitely not a magnet. (Note from Shiela: I remember Milay and Mich asking us if we really need to get back by 11:30. Di pa namin alam pangalan nyo nun. Bitin ba yung time? Hehe)

Sabi sa inyo eh may magnet ako (photobombed by Mich and Millay) :D

Sabi sa inyo eh may magnet ako (photobombed by Mich and Millay)😀

We have seen half of the complex, temples of different size and style, but Kat agreed with me that the Grand Palace doesn’t have that “WOW moment”. All that glitters is not gold. Certainly in this complex, all that glitter are majority paints. We saw templates and empty spray paints at the side of the temples that somehow took away the grandeur of the place. But to be fair, there are some details in this complex that we really admired; like putting together millions of mirror pieces or some other material that makes wonderful patterns, and of course the unique style of the temples.

Exactly 11AM and we started to walk to the exit, ten minutes passed, where the heck were we? Well, we were nowhere near the exit. We were going in complete circle. Tikoy specifically told us that there are only two exits, but where were those? We didn’t know, we were lost. We followed a bunch of tourists, and as long as I can see the exit sign I knew we were in the right direction. Another 5 minutes and we didn’t know where we were. After going through an arch, a huge building as grand as it can be, stands on our left. That was the Grand Palace. But we were running late, no photo opportunities, so we rushed to the exit and look where they are. Good thing we were not the last ones.

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace

It was a hot day as I can remember. Tikoy said we’ll walk to Wat Pho. What? (Ano po yun? What po?) WALEY AGAIN! We had no choice, I was into hiring a tuktuk driver because I cannot carry on but Tikoy said it was just walking distance so we went on. (Note from Shiela: Sabi ni Tikoy malapit lang. Malapit lang for her. Char!) We can see Wat Pho from afar but thing is, it is far. We stopped by a milk tea stand and Tikoy bought, yes – milk tea. Kat was about to pass out because of the heat. It was lunch time and we haven’t had anything yet. We were under a tree looking at them buying their milk teas when Shiela approached a guy and asked for his name. So he was Froilan and the other guy, which was Golden. “Sya si Golden”, Shiela said. We exchanged names and talked for a while. So there is Golden–the mystery man. The man who came from Singapore. The man I thought was a girl.

Finally. Hello, Golden!

Finally. Hello, Golden!

We continued on with our walk until we reached Wat Pho. My throat was dry and I was sweating like a pig. Tikoy said “Ok lang yan magbabangka naman tayo after”. So that was the selling point? (Facepalm). I purchased three tickets to the Wat Pho, free bottled water included. That was the best thing we got right there if you will ask me. I drank the cold water so fast, I saw the light, I heard angels. I died.

At Wat Pho

At Wat Pho

As we walked past the Reclining Buddha, we could not get an angle where there are no people around. Kat even took a panoramic photo of it just to capture it from head to foot but the funny thing was, when she zoomed in, distorted faces were captured.

Distorted Giant Reclining Buddha

Distorted Giant Reclining Buddha

A better version of the Reclining Buddha

A better version of the Reclining Buddha

After a quick walk past the Reclining Buddha, we grabbed some snacks. I had the best bbq ever. At first I thought “parang puro taba naman” but when I tasted it, it made Rack’s seems to not know how to bbq. We saw sunny side up quail eggs, chestnuts, corndogs, ice cream, stir fried noodles, but we settled for a “FRENCH FRIED”. The moment I ate a piece, I missed Jollibee! Hehe. Their version of french fries makes Jollibee’s exceptional. Funny thing was when Shiela ordered a french fried, the boy vendor, all with his dirty hands, put the french fried in a plastic. Two pieces of french fried fell to the counter. The boy and the person behind him had a short conversation and pointed at the french fried on the counter. “Sa isip isip namin sinabi nung matanda na wag na ilagay yung nalaglag na dalawang piraso”. But we were dumb charade players, the boy picked up the two pieces of french fried and put it inside the plastic bag. WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU THINKING? I tried my very best to remember the two pieces, but when we sat on the bench, we munched the fries til it’s done. Where were the two pieces? It’s gone and I don’t want to think I was the one who consumed them.

Food carts at Wat Pho

Food carts at Wat Pho

After a short trip to Wat Pho, we were headed to the Hotel. We walked to the ferry station or whatever it’s called. When the boat with orange flag came, all the twenty-one of us hopped in. Tikoy said she will pay for twenty-one persons. And the lady didn’t bother to ask us if we were already paid, “ang galing ng photographic memory, kilala nya yung twenty-one”. In the middle of the trip, the conductor asked us to go to the middle of the boat because a lot of people are coming in and out where we were standing. When we came inside, I found myself beside Roan (I didn’t know her name yet that time). There was still space in the middle of the boat but we opted to stay where we can grab a handrail. “Iba na maliit di abot ang handrail sa taas”. Roan said, “di ko naman abot yun e, dito nalang tayo, picture nalang”. She took out her camera and counted one, two, three then click! I just had a selfie with a person I am yet to know. I didn’t even know her name. All I know was that “kanina ko pa sya naririnig na bumubingisngis”.

Water taxi at the Chao Phraya river

Water taxi at the Chao Phraya river

After about four stops, we went off at Phra Athit . We were enjoying the streets of Bangkok too much that we walked past the shortcut to Rambuttri Road. Little did we knew that Songkran was already in the air. We didn’t get the memo, especially Roan. Haha. “Nakipaghabulan pa sa nambabasa ng tubig”. As we walked along Rambuttri House, overly excited people were slowly coming out of the pubs with their water guns heavily loaded with sometimes ice-cold water. A guy was hosing the street and anyone who passes. We were all nervous as we walk near the man when we noticed that we nearly walked past our hotel. Whew! “Ligtas”.

We were wet when we climbed upstairs to our room. We changed clothes. Tikoy knocked and asked about our plans for the next day and that those people outside were just excited to celebrate Songkran. “Excited? Excited palang yun? Pano nalang pag di na sila excited? Pano pag Songkran na talaga?”.

Khao San road all pumped up for the Songkran festival

Khao San road all pumped up for the Songkran festival

After almost half an hour, we decided to go out and go to MBK. As we went outside, people with water guns attacked us in all directions. We were soaking as we wait for a cab, good thing a cab driver let us in. Silence filled the cab but when the cab driver spoke in Thai, we were puzzled. He was explaining some sort of thing in Thai and talking to Shiela in Thai. All I heard from Shiela was “yes” and “what? I can’t understand”. Sometimes, I would talk to the driver, I will ask “No English?”, he will laugh at me and then the end of the conversation. Hahaha.

We reached MBK after an hour because of traffic. Good thing it was not a high end mall. I mean you don’t see three people in the mall looking like paupers with dripping shirts. We haven’t had anything for lunch so we decided it was just right to treat ourselves with a hot, delicious, and authentic Thai food. Their pad thai was great, tasty but not overpowering. We also tried their bbq but this time we were not satisfied. The taste was good but nothing special. Their milk tea was the best milk tea I’ve tasted. Unfortunately, we did not bring camera or phones because we knew what we will be really wet by the time we get back to the hotel. After we satisfied our gastronomic cravings, shopping was next in line.

We scoured the entire mall to look for pasalubong. We bought shirts, magnets, purse, and spicy tamarinds. We also bought some milk teas and snacks in a grocery store inside the mall.

Ref magnet from MBK

Ref magnet from MBK

We went to the hotel after about two hours of shopping. The taxi we hired charged us 200baht even after we agreed for 150baht. He said he needed to add 50 because we wanted him to drive us near Khao San. We got off the cab at the end of Rambuttri Road, which was by that time, filled with people partying.

Slowly we traversed Rambuttri, water came to us from all direction–normal or even ice-cold. “Nakakainis yung dun pa sila kukuha sa lagayan ng beer na tinitinda tapos ibabato sa’yo! TAPOS BAWAL KANG MAGALIT? Kasi winawash-away nila yung bad luck mo”. I just felt I had to say that in Tagalog. “Mas may conviction”. Hehe.

Wild Songkran crowd.

Wild Songkran crowd.

After a few showers of water, we got trapped in a group of people partying with no intentions of moving or letting us go through. There was Rambuttri House, we can finally see it, so near yet so far. Being the persons we were, we danced our way to the hotel. No joke, we partied for a while to keep the people moving until we reach the gate, opened it, then went inside.

Our first day in Thailand was great, we had authentic pad thai and milk tea, we celebrated Songkran, we are done with shopping and still had one more free day. All in all, my first day is one heck of a memorable day!

End of day 1: what a blast!

End of day 1: what a blast!

8 thoughts on “Backpacking Indochina Day 1 – Grand Palace and Water Guns

  1. Pingback: Backpacking Indochina Day 2 – Songkran | backpackingwithmishi

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  3. Pingback: Backpacking Indochina Day 4 – Profile Pictures | backpackingwithmishi

  4. Pingback: Backpacking Indochina Day 5 – The Journey | backpackingwithmishi

  5. Pingback: Backpacking Indochina Day 6 Part 1 – The Ghosts of the Past | backpackingwithmishi

  6. Pingback: Backpacking Indochina Day 6 Part 2 – False Alarms | backpackingwithmishi

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