Out the front door of our accommodations, Shanti Lodge, we wandered a few hundred meters to the neighborhood talad (or market). Unlike the famed night markets, the morning market features fresh (wet) goods for residents and merchants. Far from the forced “health measures” practiced under the USDA; this market featured on site butchering and still living fish along with the endless produce & spices.
Exploration far and wide is the goal of flying to the other side of the world, but wandering through the sites of our own street was a good reminder to look around before grabbing the guidebook.
With our bikes wedged in a small corner and thoroughly locked up we borrowed the lodges ancient single speed cruisers. Following the river we rode to the Grand Palace where we were met with a crowd and security checkpoint. Due to a memorial event marking the 100th day of the King’s passing entry to the Grand Palace was limited and the normally available free Sarongs were nowhere to be found. We would need to come back with the appropriate dress (covering ankles).
Adjacent to the Grand Palace was the famed Wat Pho, the temple of the Reclining Buddha, hoping for a more lax dress code we ventured over and after a 200 baht fee were admitted to the grounds. Built under order of King Rama I, the temple is both the oldest and largest Buddhist temple in Bangkok.
Chinese guardian statues guard the entry from evil, we rang the Gong for good luck and were admitted shoe-less into the temple.
The architecture, numerous Buddhas, and accompanying Chinese statues were as impressive in color and detail as the grand Reclining Buddha.
Back on our single speed we rode across the city to Chinatown to entertain ourselves in another market. Similar to the market in our neighborhood this one, being in Chinatown, had a few vendors dedicated entirely to the upcoming Lunar New Year.
Hungry from a day of weaving around traffic, ducking through low-ceilinged markets, wandering wide-eyed in and out of gilded temple halls we aimed our sites at the legendary Thip Samai, claimed by some as the best Pad Thai. Sadly they didn’t open for 30 minutes, luckily a farang* coffee shop was located across the street. After sipping on a very fancy Thai coffee we made our way over to Thip Samai and ate very good, well presented Pad Thai and Pad Thai Supreme (egg wrapped). The best would be an insane claim, with an estimated 20,000 food venders in the city sampling all Pad Thai would take a while.
*farang: generally overpriced and not representing the local flavor or pricing. The coffee/tea lady on our street sells a very large, delicious iced coffee for 25baht; farang iced coffee smaller and cost 70baht.