I’m safe and sound in Vientiane, writing from the comfort of my room for the next month and a half. My roommate Theresa doesn’t get here until tomorrow morning, so I’m alone aside from the sound of the rain outside and the episode of Silicon Valley I’m somewhat choppily streaming. These thunderstorms are commonplace during the rainy season – the weather forecast for the week is a line of little lightning cloud icons. I should head to bed, but I want to write about Bangkok before I start having adventures in Laos.
In my few hours in Bangkok, I got a quick glimpse of the city. I’ll definitely have to come back to really experience all it has to offer, but this was a great introduction. I started off with some delicious shrimp at Cabbages & Condoms, a restaurant that seeks to raise awareness of family planning and emphasizes that tools for family planning should be as accessible and acceptable as vegetables in the market. Worry not, their “food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy.” All of the decor was condom-themed, including posters, examples of family planning across the world, and mannequins dressed in condom-clothing. The food was delicious though it reminded me that my spice tolerance has gone way down.
My next plan of action was to head to the older part of town and check out some temples. Note: Google Maps is incredibly inadequate when it comes to mapping public transport here and almost had me believe that I had to take a taxi or elaborate series of buses (for some reason, I can handle all other forms of public transport, but I will avoid buses like the plague). Fortunately, I came across a Skytrain stop and took that to the Chao Praya river. From there, I hopped on a boat to Wat Pho, famous for the giant Reclining Buddha that it houses. At 46m long and 15m high, the Buddha is indeed huge, and seems even larger because it is enclosed within the temple.
The rest of the temple is no less impressive. It is filled with gorgeous multi-colored tiled stupas, shiny-topped viharas (halls), and Chinese stone statues. I spent the next hour and half wandering around the massive temple complex. Despite the crowds, the 80,000 sq m complex meant there was plenty of people-less pockets that made for a peaceful afternoon meandering around. It was – as my next year will be – wonderfully hot and humid and I grabbed some delicious fresh pineapple before hopping back onto the boat, Skytrain, and to my hotel to grab my luggage. I then made my way to the airport and Vientiane, where I now sit. I’m off to bed now – check out my Facebook page for more photos until I figure out a better way to post them.