Our last few weeks in Bangkok, January 2016, part 2

 Fiercely and I went to a wonderful half-day Thai cooking class. We started out at the market with our instructor, who showed us Thai herbs and other ingredients. Here is lemongrass:

  And cilantro and Thai basil:
Next, we went to their adorable classroom building.

 We made coconut cream and coconut milk. She showed us a special stool with a type of coconut grater on one end. We squeezed the grated coconut meat with water to make the milk. After standing for a while, the cream separates on top, just like it does with cow’s milk.

The rest of the day we cut veggies and cooked on gas stove tops. We made five dishes, including mango sticky rice for dessert!

This is a green curry (right)and the dessert:

Koh Larn

We went back to the island for more snorkeling. It was just as nice the second time, but it was relatively cold and windy. The water was nice and warm but it was downright chilly getting out! We had a great time. Those are the twins in the foreground:

We rented motorbikes again and explored some areas that were new to us. It really is a nice getaway, and so close- under four hours from our apartment to the island beach. That includes the 40-minute ferry ride and everything!

Biking We spent a day on rented bikes at the “lung of Bangkok”. I loved it so much I wrote a separate post about it to help others find and enjoy the place! Relatedly, we went for a THIRD time on the Bangkok bike tour with GoBangkok. It is just such a great way to spend a day and it never gets old. There’s Really in the center wearing bike helmet in Chinatown market:

There’s Truly and Cleverly, also in helmets:

Here’s a lady with her baby in backseat basket who inadvertently joined our little bike parade for a block or so:

The gorgeous Wat Arun:

Here’s a decorated Bodhi tree ficus religiosa believed to be the species under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment. Large ones are often decorated with fabric.

 This one happened to have a shrine at the base as well. You can see a picture of the king at top left,  lots of flower garlands, a Thai flag at center, and offerings of drinks to the Buddha (complete with straws!) at bottom center:

Other than moving out of our apartment and finding the right bus station, that’s about it for Bangkok. We’re sad to go, but excited for our next stop- Myanmar!

Some random notes that didn’t fit anywhere else:

Thais stop what they are doing and freeze in place at 6pm in train stations for a playing of their national anthem.

We heard of this and saw it in our last weeks in Thailand: the child angel phenomenon. Adults are buying dolls and treating them like babies or deities, buying them food in restaurants and airplane tickets, for good luck. It caught our attention at the subway.

3rd gender: Thailand has a noticeable number of transgendered people, known as ‘kathoeys’. They seem unremarkable in day-to-day life and we often saw male-to-female ones working in shops and restaurants as women. Thais don’t seem to give them a second look.

Orange robed monks: they are all over Thailand. When we got to Myanmar, the monks wore scarlet colored robes.

Buddhas and bikes, Bangkok, December 2015

  Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

I had been wanting to visit this place since we arrived in Bangkok over six weeks ago, and finally we were there! I was standing next to the 46-meter long golden reclining Buddha, amazed by its size and enchanted by its calm expression. Many important government structures and the above temple are in the same area in Bangkok near the Chao Phraya River.  The streets were decorated in yellow for the king’s birthday.


 The kids were uninterested so this was just DH and me. 


Bike tour

Another thing the kids did not want to do: bike around Bangkok. So again we parents went and we had a great time! 


This is the old customs house:
We went with the amazing Go Bangkok rental and tour company. I don’t like to mention businesses but this place was great. They have tour guides but you can also opt to use a tablet with GPS and one of three wonderful tour options. Raymond the owner was so welcoming and helpful. We took the 17km two hour day tour. We went slowly and took about twice that amount of time. It sent us on a labrynth of old Bangkok, including Chinatown, a mosque, many temples, and twice crossing the Chao Praya River by ferry boat. Mr. Fantastic described the experience like looking at a pop-up book; every turn showed a new, colorful, unexpected tableau of this vibrant city and its hidden corners.

Apparently, the tower below is called a chedi, this particular one was restored recently, and it received a UNESCO award for the restoration!  

 Here we are attempting a selfie on the ferry:


We went back and did the same tour with another family. Since their kids went, ours were excited to go this time! 


We went back to the same giant Buddha, also through the market, and I tried to take different pictures this time around.

We went up and around and inside the giant white stupa this time around. There was a museumthere and you can go out to the balcony and also see up inside!

 Like most wats, it also has an active shrine. People can buy little squares of gold leaf and put them on statues and walls. The gold flutters and sparkles from the walls.

   We biked on some dedicated bike lanes, like this one next to the river.   And we biked through so many wats and little alleys. I did not get most of the names.

 We passed this game of hacky sack- meets-tennis-meets-basketball. There was a commentator with a microphone and everything! 

At the end of the tour, we could see our route on the GPS tablet thingie: 

And it was a great day!