Thursday, January 2, 2014

Jan 2 2014 - Cycling through Bangkok!

We took it easy on January 1, recovering from a little too much partying, knowing we would have 3 more full days to explore Bangkok. The idea was to spend the last three days doing a bike tour, a walking tour, and a museum day. Early afternoon, we walked our way through previously-unexplored neighborhoods over to Follow Me Bicycle Tours for their Siam Boran historical tour.

the Fish Spa tickles a lot at first!!

McDonald's new delivery service in Thailand??

We arrived at the bike tour a little early and they graciously let us use their Fish Spa. We washed off our feet and placed them in a fish tank where tiny toothless Garra Rufa fish eat the dead and dry skin off your feet and toes. At first it tickles, then it just feels relaxing. We had seen these fish spas elsewhere in Asia and Thailand and it always seemed hokey, but since we had a little time to kill and they offered it for free, we figured why not. Only later did I research and find that 14+ US states and several other countries have banned fish spas due to the (small) risk of infection and because the fish must be theoretically starved in order to entice them to eat dead skin. Anyway it was a very pleasant experience for the few minutes we tried it!

Manual steps of processing ginger
in the Bangkok flower mart

About to board the river ferry!

The bike ride was more of a wild adventure than just a tour - being guided briskly through winding alleys (some that were even too narrow and twisty for Tuk Tuks to drive through), pushed through crowds in Chinatown and street markets, herded onto crowded boats to pass between Bangkok proper and Thonburi so we could visit two Wats (Buddhist temples) on the other side of the Chao Phraya River.

Squeezing through an alley

Beautiful views of the Chao Phraya
riverbank from Ferry via bike

After visiting two Buddhist temples, I asked what was probably the most na├»ve question of our tour guide: We have been hearing about big Buddha statues, why isn't he here? Well, readers, it turns out I had thought Fat Happy Budai was The Buddha. The guide explained that some Chinese people pray to Budai but Thai Buddhists pray to the slender contemplative Indian incarnation of Buddha. I'm sure I'm not the only person confused about that – did you also think the Fat Happy Budai was The Buddha?  We all had a laugh and continued on our trek.

Moments before I discovered this is
The Buddha - and I have a statue of
a random fat happy guy at home!

Bikes, boats, and babes!

Many alleys we passed had young kids excited to say "Hello!" to try the English they had learned. Just as many alleys had elderly folks calling out "Happy New Year!" as we rode by! The tour was a lot of fun, a great workout, and a super way to see a lot of the historic side of Bangkok.

1 comment:

Karen Wilson said...

I saw the fish spa thing in a little shopping mall in London and almost tried it. Good to know about the banning! And I had no idea the fat dude was not THE buddha.