12/16/05 - Bangkok
After 16 hours of flying we arrived at the The Royal River Hotel at 1.a.m. (United Air flights to Tokyo and Bangkok were OK - helpful staff and enough to eat & drink). We staggered to bed at 2A.M. Bangkok time and were up by 7A.M. to see the Chao Phraya River from our balcony. Steady boat traffic on the river and vehicles crossing the adjacent Krungtron Bridge passed us in the early morning haze. Breakfast is bountiful and bland except for the Thai basil-chili chicken! Huge dining areas handle large tour groups.
We took a water taxi from the Krungtron stop to cross the river and explore old Bangkok. First we walked to the National Gallery to see a small collection of Thai Art featuring the King’s Paintings. Hungry, now, we searched for lunch, and after a hot, smoggy walk finding our way across huge pedestrian-unfriendly boulevards we had ham sandwiches at the National Museum snack shop. For 2 1/2 hours we sped through some of the Museum's many buildings of history and culture finally landing at the amazing building housing huge funeral chariots and elaborate funeral pyre ceremonial wagons. For Thai Royalty the sendoffs are quite splendid. Today we first heard the claim often repeated on our tours that Thailand has never been occupied by foreign nations, a unique claim for Southeast Asian countries. We were too weary to do justice to our dinner at the Hotel outdoor buffet. But we enjoyed the warm, calm evening on our the balcony.
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