Tag Archives: boats

The long weekend in Bangkok: unabridged

Were you suitably teased by my long weekend teaser? I imagine the reason why I don’t have a long list of comments begging me to write more about the weekend is that your longing is so great that you can’t verbalise it. I understand…those photos were pretty amazing.

Well, just prepare yourself to have your expectations confounded.

I had a special visitor this weekend, who, until the last minute thought he wouldn’t get into my airport-blocked city. And then, as the sea parted for Moses, the PAD protesters left the terminal and all was good again.

Sooooo are you dying to know who visited? Who towers over me enough to take this photo of the top of my head?

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Thaaaaaat’s right! The very tall MARCUS (friend not brother)

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Looking here as though he might punch the reclining Buddha in the soles of his feet. Way to aim for the most sacred thing in the universe ever.

Taking advantage of Muslim public holidays that both countries of our residences observe (Eid Al-Adha), Marcus quickly popped over from Aceh for a wee vacation.

We just ate food and wandered around on Marcus’s first day in town (Friday) so I didn’t bother getting my camera out for that. On Saturday morning though, we did lots of great stuff and I just didn’t take any photos!  We took boats up and down the river, had a delicious lunch by the river and went to Khoasan Rd to look for old hippies who forgot to ever leave the stinky back packer mecca.

On arrival at Wat Po however, it was clear the camera needed to come out…and it didn’t get put away until sometime on Tuesday (note that Marcus left on Monday morning but by then I was just snap happy).

Some photos of Wat Pho

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The temple has these excellent statues dotted around the yard.

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The main event at Wat Pho is the Reclining Buddha statue, which is housed in a room whose walls are illustrated beautifully.

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As we wandered around the temple Marcus was stopped by some students who asked him to complete a survey that tackled the lighthearted subject, “Are you prepared to die?”

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He had a lot to think about.

We left Wat Pho and wandered to the flower market as dusk descended. I had a fleeting and rare moment of knowing where I was in Bangkok and realised we were nearby to the lovely Amarosa, a bar overlooking the river and Wat Arun.

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After enjoying mojitos and playing with the settings on my camera to get these lovely shots, we went down to the pier and took the boat back to more familiar territory. We spent the evening at Suan Lum Night Bazaar and rewarded ourselves for an excellent day out with burgers at the American pub.

The next morning we headed out to JJ market to do a wee bit more shopping and I learned the extent of Marcus’s gusto and natural talent for haggling. It was such a great JJ day. It wasn’t too hot and stinky and even though it was crowded and manic it seemed a bit calmer than usual. The market was full of great smells (antiques, food, incense) and we found a corner of the market with old Buddha statues and a violin stall that was a delight to be in.

After a few hours of shopping we decided to get some sushi, one of Marcus’s “I’ve escaped from Aceh, please feed me” requests. I knew of a couple of tasty places, but thought I should ask my friend who knows the best of everything if she has a favourite sushi haunt.

Oh dear, Oishi Grand Sushi Buffet. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

Firstly, I’ve never ever seen so much sushi. Secondly I may not have ever seen this much food. It didn’t stop at sushi at Oishi Grand Sushi Buffet. There was tempura and the bbq grill (where they grill on command!), dim sum, pasta, rows of food I didn’t even look at, and a huge dessert section. Obscene amounts of food.

Ro joined us for lunch and things got a bit silly.

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Best thing about this shot: after it was taken Ro said to Marcus “Don’t think you’re actually eating my gyoza”

If he wanted more gyoza he could have had 150 of them freshly grilled at his request because we were in crazyland.

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This was the photo AFTER we’d finished eating. We’d eaten so much that all those delectable little morsels went begging. Actually, we did eat some of what’s shown here, but we definitely fell short by a long shot.

The next thing on our To Do list was take stupid photos amongst christmas directions, so we did.

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Oh man, I love this photo. Ro wasn’t as excited by the “R for Rowan!” moment as I was. But now that she looks back on it, I bet she loves it too. Expect your R for Rowan christmas card in the mail shortly.

The end

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What political crisis? Air and Nat are getting married!

Saturday was a very special and exciting day in which many of us chose to ignore the big dumbbum political crisis, get frocked up and celebrate Air and Nat’s wedding.

I work with Air and she kindly invited me to her wedding on my first day in the office. She couldn’t have found a more appreciative guest if she tried because I was very excited to see what Thai weddings are all about. This is what I found out.

Lesson no.1. Thai weddings have boats!

Anya and Niyada on the boat

Anya and Niyada on the boat

The wedding was held at the Marriot Hotel on the river, which is on the other side of the river to where most of us live…so unless we wanted to swim a kilometre on the stinky water or cross a bridge in a car (ew gross) we simply had to take a boat! We took the skytrain to the pier at Saphan Taksin and took the Marriot boat across the river. FYI, the boat is about as fancy as the hotel. There are dressed up porters on board and they give you a refreshing moist hand towel for your journey (no good for freshly made up young ladies, but we didn’t need them anyway because we were too ladylike to perspire).

Niyada and Sarah on the Marriot boat

Niyada and Sarah on the Marriot boat

Lesson no.2. If you arrive early you get to see different outfits.

We went to the wedding in the afternoon to catch the traditional water pouring ceremony, where Air and Nat sit in white poufy chairs and guests pour water over their hands as a blessing. I grilled my friends for as much background as I could, and they could explain in great detail what was happening, but then I asked the silly question “why?”

Sarah: Why do they pour water, why do they have three dots of white stuff on their heads?

Anya: Ummm…they just do OK.

Air and Nat at the water pouring ceremony

Air and Nat at the water pouring ceremony

This is Air’s “traditional” dress. Later in the evening she would change into a western style wedding dress. Nat is wearing the fancy government officer uniform. He’s a doctor, so even though he doesn’t wear this kind of thing to work each day (wouldn’t it be great if he did!) this is his formal government uniform.

Lesson no.3. Thai weddings have hot chocolate!

After the water pouring we had a break before the reception began in the evening, so our little gang of Air supporters wandered around the hotel and lounged in the cafe.

hot chocolate in the cafe

hot chocolate in the cafe

I made the most of the occasion and had a hot chocolate that actually fed my soul. No really! I think it was the whipped cream that made all the difference.

cherry cake

cherry cake

Chaitawat had the very good sense to order this delicious cherry cake. I think cherry and dark chocolate is one of my favourite flavour combinations. Elisa, you want to send me another cherry ripe for my next birthday?!

Anya, Netta, Chaitawat, Niyeda, me and Joy (Jason is taking the photo)

Anya, Netta, Chaitawat, Niyeda, me and Joy (Jason is taking the photo)

In between lounging, we made the most of our dress up clothes and rather fancy backdrop and took photos.

This one of Netta won the prize for photo magic of the day.

Netta on the telephone

Netta on the telephone

And here is me by a tree!

Sarah meets a tree

Sarah meets a tree

Sadly, shortly after this photo was taken my batteries died (shouldn’t have take 150 photos of the water pouring I guess).

The reception began moments after the tree-posing and we ate, drank and got warm and fuzzy when Air and Nat got up and did their bit.

Lesson no. 4. Thai weddings are quite similar to quiz shows

At a Thai wedding the emcee (a very beautifully dressed friend of Air’s, reminiscent of the quiz show host) takes questions from the audience for the bride and groom to answer. Knowing that they were going to get the “how did you meet?” question they had an animation (I’m not kidding!) of how they met (at uni when they were in the same class) projected onto the screens. Nat’s friends also filmed what looked like an ambush of Nat while he was sleeping to hijack his phone and publicly display all the cutesy text messages Nat and Air send to each other. Ahhh, friends are wonderful aren’t they?!

Lesson no. 5. Thai weddings are kind of similar to Australian wedding.

The rest of the night was spent eating and drinking and catching bouquets, which is pretty much the same as an Australian wedding, but with less 80s music (there was a string quartet) and no “rowdy table” of drunk people who both sides of the wedding party try to disown. This was one class act!

I love you khlong time

I love boats. I don’t much like being in water but I love being on it. And I love that Bangkok provides ample boating opportunities. I take a boat down the klong (canal) each day to get to work. Not because it’s the most efficient way to get to work. It’s not the most convenient either. It might be the cheapest, but considering that the most expensive way to get to work (taxi) costs only a couple of dollars I can’t use that excuse either. When people ask me why I bother with the boat I tell them it’s reliable, which is kinda true, but a bit of a stretch.

View from a bridge over the khlong

View from a bridge over the khlong

It takes me 45 minutes to get from my house to office if I take this three-legged journey: the skytrain, then the boat down the klong and then walk another 10 minutes from the pier. I do like the reliability of this journey because traffic can’t interfere. In a taxi it might only take 20 minutes, but it might also take 1 hour. But in the last couple of days some of the worst protest-related road blocks have been cleared (linked to the funeral of the Princess, but I’m not sure why the blocks are cleared and if they will return on Monday) so people have been getting from my suburb to the office in 15 minutes. And yet I still take 45 minutes.

Khlong boat leaving the pier

Khlong boat leaving the pier

I just love riding in the boat. We burn down the skinny canal, swerving around other boats, occasionally lifting into the air when we hit a wave. On the sides of the boat there are tarpaulins you can raise with a pully and push down when its time to get out. They exist so the water splashing up the sides doesn’t drench the passengers dressed for work in suits, heals, pressed school uniforms. One morning a big wave took three of us on my bench seat by surprise and we copped faces full of dirty khlong water. The speed with which the guy next to me frantically dried himself off suggested that the water was even more putrid than I imagine. But as someone in my office said today “I’ve seen kids swimming in that water, so if doesn’t kill them then a commuter can probably handle a splash in the face”….But I’m not sure it wouldn’t kill a child with a weak constitution so I make sure to keep my mouth shut so the worst that happens is my hair gets wet and frizzy.

Passengers getting on and off the boat

Passengers getting on and off the boat

There’s another reason why I like my daily khlong ride. This afternoon we were released early from work because more traffic chaos was predicted as the funeral got underway. I reached the pier as I chatted to my friend on the phone about my surprise afternoon off. Dressed from head to toe in black (in recognition of the three day mourning period for the Princess), laptop in one hand, phone to ear, I jumped into the boat, grabbed the right amount of coins for the fare (8 baht) kept chatting to my friend. If anyone would have noticed, which no doubt they didn’t, I would have given the impression of having figured out this environment, a regular in Bangkok. This brings such joy! Because at all other times than this 10 minutes on the boat I am still completely lost in this city. I speak woefully little Thai for someone who’s been in the country for a month, and I still get lost every time I leave my suburb. It is pretty cool to have that little piece of regularity that I have all figured out.

Afterthought: The idea to write this post came into my head while I was on the boat this afternoon, and I was giggling about the title, which just kept getting funnier the more I thought about it. Because I was busy giggling and patting myself on the back for being a comic genius, I almost missed my stop and had to jump up and out of the boat as it pulled away from the pier. So I went back to looking like a silly lost farang (foreigner) again!

Boat Trip

Lara and I tried to co-post yesterday but instead we were sidetracked by the surprisingly difficult task of buying Lara a flight out of Indonesia.

On Sunday we went on a boat trip to an island about an hour or two from Banda Aceh. This boat trip was the most highly anticipated event on the Banda Aceh expat calendar for some time. So on Sunday morning we all arrived at the port like kids going on school camp and loaded the boat with supplies enough for 100 people (there were probably only 20).

After an hour or so we arrived at our destination and began the mission of getting supplies from the boat to the beach via surf boards and waterproof bags. Once everything was on dry land we made a fire and cooked up a storm (actually I collected firewood and went for a swim while the cooking happened). We had fish and prawns and chops, and one very resourceful person was even able to bring salads across from the boat in Tupperware containers.

At one point Lara pondered whether the location could be any more perfect and I reminded her of the coral cuts we all had from crossing a reef as we swam from the boat. I retrospectively added to the ‘what’s not perfect about the boat trip’ list:

1. my decision to climb up a steep hill in bare feet
2. the strong current that nearly swept us out to sea as we swam back to the boat
3. Sunburn even though I lathered on the sunscreen

But even the list didn’t make the day anything less than brilliant. Here is me and Lara at the end of the day on the way back into town.

For a change of pace, this weekend Lara and I will stay put on Pulau Weh (Weh Island) for three days. It’s nice to mix it up a little you know?

And finally the tropical paradising starts