← Part One
Once back on a main road, I continued north and found a conglomerate of street vendors each selling their own kinds of food. I picked a random one and ordered from her. A pork and noodle soup of some sort. It was thankfully not spicy, but somewhat difficult to eat with my lack of tact with chopsticks.
Luckily I remembered to snap a picture of my Thai first street food before I finished it.
A couple blocks over, I came to a BTS station, the Bangkok Skytrain. With nothing else to do, I decided to take it as far out as it would go.
The ride provided some amazing and intriguing sites of the various spots of the city, despite the limited visibility that the skytrain sometimes provides.
The sight that stood out the most, though, was two buildings next to each other. Something that I read in several accounts and blogs of Thailand was that, unlike other places where areas and buildings are more divided by class, new and luxurious buildings are built right over top older and noticeably destitute buildings here.
These two, an old 3-4-storey building and a new high-rise residential tower were right next to each other. Between them, and angled overtop the older building was a green plastic screen that would block any sight of the old building beneath to people standing in or on the balconies of the new building.
The train continued to its terminal in an area run through by a large parkway surrounded by fields patched with interconnected developments. Not knowing where to go when I reached street level, I picked a side and direction on the Parkway and began walking.
A decent sized street came up on the left and I turned down it. The grass was taller than me, blocking most of my view of the kinds of neighborhoods I would be walking into.
The first street that came up through the fields on my left went on a block with ornate fences surrounding notably nice homes. Most of them had sandbags covering the open space in the gates even though there was no visible threat of water anywhere I had been in the city.
Coming to the end of that road, I turned right and headed further back into the sparsely developed area. There is a chance that much of it may have been developed at one point and simply overgrown by the fields again, as I did come across many derelict buildings in the fields.
Many of the buildings I was now coming upon were larger estates, around 4-5 storeys and many of the first floors were open and turned into home-run, very basic convenience stores. All appeared to sell such identical items (chips, dried noodles, and cooking oil), it was a bit baffling why or how so many were there. These sorts of buildings came and went as I zigzagged through fields and dead ends and desire paths made into neighboring streets.
One oddity I came across in all of this, which I never would have expected: a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witness. I just seemed such an arbitrary place for one to be located. Not that I would have expected it to be on a main or major road, either, I suppose. But just that of all Christian sects to come across first in Thailand seemed a bit odd.
Finally getting back to the main road near the Skytrain terminus, I was getting hungry and on my kick about trying a brand new type of food every day, provided I could find one. After about 10 minutes of looking, there it was: roasted duck head.
I signaled to the 14 year old kid who was manning the stand that I wanted to buy one. He took a neck-head out, threw it on a grill to heat it more, and then chopped it into a bunch of 4 cm thick neckpieces, put them in a plastic bag, and tossed the head.
The bag was then wrapped impossibly tight with a rubber band, put into a larger bag, and then given a side bag of some kind of sauce. It cost me 20 baht ($0.66). Problem was, I didn’t have anywhere or any way to eat it. There were no tables around, no benches, and that duck was messy.
I ended up setting the bag on a cement support for the stairs to the Skytrain terminal and eating there. The roasted duck head wasn’t good. The skin was rubbery. The sauce was impossible to get on it from a plastic bag. And the neck bones took up most up the space, leaving very little room for any meat. I only ate about half the bag before I gave up and took the stairs back to the Skytrain.
Bangkok, or any city in Thailand, has no shortage of Buddhist temples, or wats, as they are called here. However, there were none around the area I was staying in Bangkok. I had seen one along the Skytrain that looked very large, granted it was among the first I had seen. So, on the way back into central Bangkok, I counted the number of stations and got off near the temple I had seen.
On the street in front of it were stands selling incense and other offerings to the shrines within the temple. I would certainly respect their rules but I wasn’t going there to make offerings. Nonetheless, I was very interested to see the architecture and the people within the temple.
When I walked in to the main temple grounds, there was a lot going on. To the right of the main shrine building, there was a large group gathering in a covered picnic area. At first, I circled the main temple clockwise, in the opposite direction, as I had no idea how welcome my presence might be.
When my path took me near the gathering, they began waving to me and saying, “Hello!” in English. I was then invited over for some handshakes and offered some water and then ice cream. One of the men introduced me to a teenage monk and said that he was learning English. We had a very basic conversation, though he seemed more interested in getting back to his friends that were watching TV in a nearby building.
It turned out the gathering was a celebration for the initiation of several new young monks into the temple. When I went into the central building, it was filled with people, primarily family members, I assumed, though there were other people wandering in and out throughout.
On the right wall, from the door to the Buddha shrine, a line of senior monks sitting on cushions was chanting as the ceremony took place. Each new initiate passed by each monk, bowed his head to a monk, and received his robes and a book near the door.
It was interesting to watch, though I left after the main part had ended. The monks continued their chanting and many of the people crowd joined in prayer. That seemed a good cue for me to move on.
So, leaving the temple and back up to the Skytrain, I snapped a few photos and then returned to the Silom area.