Tuesday, March 25, 2008

From Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok : Tales of Day 5

After experiencing the various modes of transportation from taxis, aircraft, ferry, train, tuk-tuks, "skytrain" and buggy, all within a span of 4 days, today, the Bunch was introduced with another mode of transportation widely being used in the City of Bangkok. And the mode of transportation is none other than the Long Boat.

Though the Long Boat we took was not really kinda public transportation but it is popular among tourists to Bangkok as a river cruise along Menam Chao Pharaya would normally be in the itinerary of any visitors there.

A river cruise is one thing but a visit to the famous "Floating Market" is just another reason for the boat ride.

Like any other tourists, we also had our river cruise along Menam Chao Pharaya and along with that a visit to the "Floating Market".

Venice of the East, that's what some people have called Bangkok as historically the rivers were the highways then. Houses faces the rivers instead of the roads. And now though the roads have almost taken over the then role of the rivers, traces of houses facing the rivers are still pretty much evident in Bangkok, especially along the main Chao Pharaya River.

We were astonished to see the beautiful "jetties" built by each owner of the houses along the rivers. And these beautiful "jetties" are evidence that the rivers are still pretty much in good use as "roads" just like the yesteryears.

We were pretty disappointed on the "Floating Market" as there simply wasn't one. Perhaps due the wrong timing, all we could see were two or three sampans waiting to approach their tourists when the boats got near.

The only sampan that approached us was merely selling bananas, bread and some souvenir items. And the floating trader seemed to be only willing to move away only after we have something from him.

And we got two of bread and a miniature floating sampan from the floating trader.

You might wonder why on earth did we buy two of bread. Well, the bread was not for us but the fishes residencing along the river.

And the fishes were huge, so "gemuk-gemuk" (fat), perhaps due the constant food supply from the tourists.
Our initial programme was to visit The Grand Palace upon berthing at the jetty near it. But our plan changed as the minute we "landed", we were approached by three persons volunteering telling us that the Grand Palace was closed to public at the particular time due to a religious observation taking place within the Grand Palace premise.

Mind you, not one but three, one at the pier, one along the road leading to the Grand Palace and another one at the supposedly entrance of the Grand Palace. All three with the same line of story, that the Grand Palace was closed to public and only to be re-opened at 3.30 p.m.

What choice do we have but to follow along with an idea by the last person to visit to some other interesting location while waiting for the Grand Palace to be re-opened.

So off we went to a supposedly grand shrine that was supposedly opened to the public for free only fo that day. How lucky we were to be there to enjoy a visit the grand shrine for free!

But we were brought there by a Tuk-tuk driver. And as I have told you before, a journey by a tuk-tuk would not be complete without a detour to none other than a "gem jewelry" outlet.

So there we go again, glancing the the precious stones and beautiful jewelries to kill time.
But the tuk-tuk driver kept on insisting to take to more "gem jewelry" outlet! We have had enough and politely asked him to sent us back to the Grand Palace no matter what.

Hesitantly, he WAS suddenly on a rush mode in sending us there. We can't really comprehend it at first but we eventually came to know the actual story once we got into the Grand Palace.

The Grand Palace visiting hours was nearing its end. It closes at 3.30 and all that talk about the Palace being closed was simply a BLATANT LIE!

It seems that those people were agents of a syndicate whose main scheme was to divert visitors from visiting the Grand Palace but to other venues where they could get some form of commissions! Yuk! What is this?

We were very lucky to had that Tuk-tuk driver who had a change of heart by sending us there back before 3.30. He sent us at 3.20, just enough time for us to get the admission tickets. In fact, we were the last one who managed to get the admission ticket for the day.

Guided by a "instant" tourist guide for a fee of 500 Baht, we we brought to admire the magnificent Siamese architecture which was simply excellent and would definitely be a sheer pity if we had ever missed the opportunity of gaining entrance into the premise.

Oh what a day it was, glad to have had another picturesque day but at the same time feeling like punching the faces of the ridiculous con men.

Stay tune to the tales of Day 6 coming up next.

Jasni AJ

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