In our recent tour of Colombia, our guide taught us the word “bololo” (sp.?) meaning something that turns into a real mess. Our second day in Bangkok turned into a bololo for many of the passengers. Our ship is too big to dock inside the city, so we are docked in an industrial port more than 2.5 hours away from the city by bus. Our port is filled with Toyotas, Nissans, and other cars ready to export. On the second day, most people were scheduled to take the included tour into Bangkok to visit the Royal Palace, the official home of the King of Siam since 1782. About five days ago, we got a letter that the Palace was going to be closed for an event the morning when we were supposed to visit and that it was expected to be overcrowded in the afternoon.
As a result, they offered us the option of transferring to one of two new included tours. Since we had been to the Palace previously, we elected to tour the flower market and cruise on the river flowing through Bangkok. We had done this previously also, but we had pleasant memories of the boat ride through the numerous small canals that lace the city. The tour lasted over eight hours and in that time we spent 30 minutes in the flower/vegetable market, twenty minutes in a boat that only covered a short distance of the main river, 30 minutes in the world’s largest gem store (where we didn’t want to be), and 60 minutes at lunch in a Ramada Inn. The rest of the time was in the bus and that time was just not worth the less than an hour of actual sightseeing. We were wishing we had stayed with the Palace.
However, when we got back and compared notes with friends, they were the ones with the true bololo. The Palace was indeed overcrowded and it deteriorated into a true mob scene of pushing, shoving, and elbowing to get into the room to see the primary sight: the Emerald Buddha. Our passengers were describing near panic attacks and fear of being trampled. Many decided it just wasn’t worth it, but it was harder getting out than moving with the flow. You often hear of the “ugly American”, and sad to say we have seen some of that in our fellow passengers. But I think today the “ugly Chinese” are more prevalent. After hearing all the horror stories, we were glad we had made the change. After the trauma of getting in to see the Emerald Buddha, most people were shocked to learn it was only 26 inches tall!
The day before we had visited yet another Big Buddha in Pattaya. Most Buddhas in Thailand are gold color.The steps leading up to the Buddha had the requisite dragon railing.We had learned in the Sanctuary of Truth how important the day of the week you are born is in determining your persona. They had a display that I used to confirm my belief that I was born on a Tuesday which makes me a hard worker. I’ll take that. Here I am with the Tuesday Buddha – but it sure doesn’t look like he is working very hard. I think I look particularly dashing in my cooling scarf, and you really need one of those if you are going to work hard in Thailand.
The most popular flower in the market was yellow marigolds. There was bag after bag of yellow marigold petals and strands of flowers. The strands are often placed around the neck of Buddha statues.The skewers of chicken feet on the bottom left of this street vendor’s grill looked particularly appealing. We saw several temples from the river. The bottom temple, Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn, is covered with porcelain tiles and sea shells.Fortunately, this is as close as we got to the Royal Palace. After a beach day in Thailand and a day at sea, our next stop is Singapore.