We have arrived in Bangkok and will be staying at Asha Guest House for the next three nights (Wed, Thurs, and Fri). Here is the web address: http://www.ashaguesthouse.com/
I think the kids were a bit shocked. Definitely a hostel! The rooms are small, dark, spartan, and very clean. The bathroom sparkles, but it consists of a hall bath with a row of lavatories and private toilets, three showers but only one of the three has hot water. But it’s clean, safe, and really inexpensive. Rooms are 400 Baht per night ($10 U.S.) for a single with a/c and 450 ($11.30) per night for a double with a/c. The Inn is quiet, has a pool and garden, restaurant with vegan offerings on menu, DVD room, pool table, free washing machines, and lots of "kids" in their 20’s. The location is close to the Skytrain, a monorail that goes right down to the river. WE think it’s just fine, especially the location and budget.
The temperature here in Bangkok feels like about 90 degrees. Maybe more, high humidity.
Yesterday we did a very long day, something like 16 hours, hired a van and driver (a "tour" organized by our hotel for us) to take us first on a river boat for an hour upstream to a minority village, then by ELEPHANT to a second village where we ate inside the headman’s house, then by car to the border of Thailand and Burma (to the Friendship Bridge) then by car to the border of Thailand and Laos (yep, officially the "Golden Triangle"). It was essentially a very "Chinese" or "Asian" type experience — rush somewhere, take your picture (photo op), then move on to the next checkpoint. I really enjoyed seeing the Mekong River in "person". After all, it now holds such a place in our own history as well as the history of this side of the world. (Yep, being here certainly makes one remember the era of the 1960’s and 1970’s.) We ate supper halfway through the five hour drive home.
The elephant ride was certainly memorable ———— pictures to follow when we return home. Let’s say, we are all sore and bruised because it’s rather hard to stay on top of a bamboo sofa and hold on for dear life as it swings back and forth on top of a pachyderm. I’m glad Ruth had forwarned me about this and I knew to put Julianna on the same elephant with David, who held her in tight. But it was loads of fun and certainly "experiential"!
Thursday. We planned to be out by nine but it turns out we are low on clothes now and didn’t have appropriate attire for visiting Buddhist temples. Shirts with sleeves, pants that cover the knees, closed toed shoes. IT took another hour to regroup with scarves to cover shoulders, sunscreen, hats, long pants, left at ten to go on public transportation first to the temple where the Emerald Buddha is housed and then to the Royal Palace on the same grounds. Then, about one oclock we went to the museum of the Royal Barges. They were spectacular dragon boats! That was Julianna’s favorite part. It was really hot, probably 95 degrees in the shade. Because our ferry was stopping service at 3:30, and we barely had time to make it to the barge museum. We didn’t stop for lunch until 4:00 and the kids were hot and famished. They were "done in" by then and took a taxi back to our hostel. David and I followed with Julianna by "tuk tuk" and monorail. It cost us about the same as it cost then. Everyone has been taking it easy this evening and also doing laundry. Tomorrow we are planning to go to Ayutthya (I think that’s how it’s spelled) about an hour and a half north of Bangkok by train. This was the old capital of Siam until it was sacked and pillaged by the Burmese in the 1760’s. After that, the capital was moved to Bangkok. Anyway, it sounds like hot and more hot to me, but the owner of the hostel says, if we think this is hot wait until April! Okay, got to run now.