Day 112 – Bangkok
With our bikes now back in our possession, the first objective of our stay in Bangkok was complete. The final part was getting and fitting our shock absorbers, and the report that we had from home is that they would be shipped at some point today. With the time delay, this was a bit of a pain, as anything sent in the morning in South Africa would be being sent in the afternoon Thailand time. The morning was another slow start, and consisted mainly of John checking the bikes for maintenances issues, Dad reading and doing a bit of exploring in the area, and Shan and I working on the blog, in between episode of Community (Seriously, with all that waiting at the airport, I think we finished an entire season in two days). We made a mid-morning foray to look for food. At this time of day, Khao San road is actually bearable. Most of the people in the streets are sober, and many even have their shirts on. The streets are still clean from the morning clean-up, and most of the hucksters are still recovering from the previous night.
When we had first arrived here, Dad had suggested taking a trip to the zoo. This was so out of the ordinary for our trip that we jumped at the chance, and today seemed like as good a day as any. The four of us hailed a tuk-tuk, and we made our way through the traffic to the Bangkok Zoo. After buying our tickets, we walked through the main gates, straight into a herd of elephants.
Well, they were off to the side, in an enclosure, but even so, this was very cool. It seemed that there was going to be some kind of elephant show a bit later in the day. Standing close to the elephants was a group of people that seemed very out a place: a troupe of Kenyan acrobats. They were also part of the show, a kind of two-for-the-price-of-two deal, and with the show starting in about half an hour, we bought ourselves some tickets, and went for a quick look at the gibbons. From what we could see, the zoo seemed very well put together, with spacious enclosures for the animals. We went back to the show just as it was about to start, and after chatting briefly to some of the acrobats (who were very impressed that we knew some of the basics phrases in Swahili), we found our seats. What followed was some of the most phenomenal displays of strength and agility I have ever seen. At one point, they made a complicated inverted human pyramid, with five of the acrobats supported by one guy at the bottom.
Next up were the elephants. I don’t know how they manage to train them to do some of the tricks they do, but seeing an elephant kick a soccer ball into a tiny goal is a pretty cool party trick.
The next three hours were spent wandering from exhibit to exhibit. It was great to finally be able to see a tiger after having passed through areas of Nepal in which they actually live. It was also very cool to see things like giraffes, animals that we have actually seen in the wild in earlier parts of our trip. Eventually, by around 5:30, we had seen everything there was to see, and returned home, where the evening was just starting to get going. I popped down to the tailor to pick up the suit, which somewhat ominously was not ready yet. What would have happened if we actually had been ready to go the next morning, I don’t know, but I expect it would involved some lucky foreigner finding themselves a good deal on a suit.
That evening Dad, Shan and I took a walk down to the river to see some of the places that John and Dad had explored on their first day here. Unfortunately when we got there it was all just closing down, and so we had to content ourselves with taking a long stroll back to the hotel, which at one point involved getting to the end of an alley and noticing a small sign informing us that we could still get through to Khao San by climbing up a small flight of stairs. When we did so, we emerged in the upstairs section of an Indian restaurant, which sure enough, opened onto the top of the road. We picked up some food on the way back, as well as the ever popular ice fruit shakes that we’ve been gorging ourselves on, and ensconced ourselves in the room for an early night.