The travel agency my mom booked the tickets and everything from had this half-day tour thingy. Mom decided to make use of it and she made me tag along - 'made me' because I told her I'd much rather spend the day shopping instead of sight-seeing like a bloody tourist, nevermind that the fact that I stayed at the Arnoma Hotel made me a bloody tourist. I guess some of us like to have our delusions.
In any case, the half-day tour turned out to be rather fruitful and not a complete waste of time, and on hindsight, I think my Tuesday morning was better spent that way rather than walking aimlessly around random malls. This was largely due to the fact that our tour guide was this super interesting Thai (well, duh) dude who shared (I hate this word, thanks to Tim Dore, but I can't think of a better one) with us some Buddhist philosophy which I found infinitely interesting.
The thing about Bangkok is that it may be a city and cities more or less kind of look the same, but its distinguishing feature, I felt, was its piousness. Visiting the four-faced Buddha on Day One was quite a unique experience; it's not often that you see a religious symbol in the middle of a tourist trap with its primary purpose still intact and revered. Even in front of Central World Whatever It Is, where New Year's celebrations were supposed to be held before the stupid bombs went off, there was an altar and people actually make use of it. I don't know, maybe it's just me, I probably need to get out more, but I found that pretty amazing - in a good way.
So our first stop that day was the temple of reclining Buddha or whatever it was called.
The face of the Buddha; close-up of the wall drawings; me under the Buddha's underarm, which I totally didn't notice until I came back to Singapore and looked through the pictures; pretty mother-of-pearl; another pretty mother-of-pearl and I don't remember where they were located; my mother and I, and the entire reclining Buddha; me and...I dunno, the wall; taken from inside the temple; donation boxes; and I don't remember what this is.
Before I forget, I must mention something. Just before I entered the temple, after removing my shoes, some security guard-type guy was staring at me. As if that wasn't bad enough, he was staring at me, and smiling at me. To make things even worse, he was staring, smiling, and saying, "Hen mei, hen mei." That's "very pretty" in Chinese. Like what the hell?! I was kind of stunned and my first instinct was to be nice so I kind of smiled awkwardly, then my mom hurriedly pulled me away with a "what a creep!".
I'm either really stupid or...really stupid. Well.
Outisde the temple, in the courtyard; my tour guide; self-explanatory #1; self-explanatory #2; a bell towery thingy; one of the pair of "demons" flanking the door, note its Western appearance; you can see the influence of the Chinese culture in Thai culture clearly in this picture but sadly I can't remember what my guide said about it; me sitting in front of...something; me and the statue, a perfect self-take; my mother and I, somewhere; pretty architecture; my tour guide, again; and Thai massage manuals, which were really cool because I never knew Thai massages were such an integral aspect of Thai culture. Yeah I know, I'm retarded.
Our next stop, another temple, but made of marble. My folks visited the same temple when they holidayed in Bangkok twenty years ago. We were looking at our photo albums yesterday (god, was I cute as a kid or what, /narcissistic moment) and my mom was showing me some of her twenty-years-ago Bangkok photos and there was one with her and my dad in front of a temple flanked by two lions and I saw it and I was like, "Uh, didn't we go there?" Indeed we did.
Me in front of the entrance to the marble temple; me making a stupid face so that I wouldn't look the same in all my pictures; one of the two lions (very Chinese, once again) flanking the entrance to the temple; my mom walking into the temple; the windows; me and some blackish thing; the emaciated Buddha (there was a whole row of the Buddha in various physical states); my tour guide and the walking Buddha, which my tour guide said has never been done before in the past (i.e. depictions of the Buddha walking were not done before); how pretty is the temple, oh my god; and me being vain, as usual.
Courtyard behind the temple was also very pretty and idyllic. My mother and I, somewhere; me, the bridge, the body of water; the body of water and this tiny fountain which frankly I don't remember seeing; another vain-pot self-take but I was trying to capture the writings on the bridge (yes, I was, really. REALLY); in the background, the two fellow Singaporeans who were in the tour with us; toilet sign; and another bell towery thingy.
My descriptions of the pictures bring to light in a wholly disturbing manner how little cultural knowledge I gained from my trip. Screw me.
Cultural Education Very Very Super Indescribably Unspeakably Embarrassingly and Futilely Lite was over and off we went to some jewellery manufacturing place, a.k.a Fucking Gimmicky-As-Hell Tourist Trap. It's called Gems Gallery, the World's Biggest Jewellery Store. Okay.
A tiny protest against the present government in front of the Parliament building; the Parliament building (pictures were taken from the minivan that shuttled us around); me in the tourist trap otherwise known as Gems Gallery; on the bright side, they served soft drinks and coffee and tea free; this single block of apartments is wholly owned and lived in by the owner of a Thai beer company and his family; Silom Village; Silom Village again; huge-ass durians; the fruits section of the supermarket; and mangoes and some orangey thingy.
So, gimmicky as Gems Gallery was, my mom and I bought a pendant each anyway. She bought a sapphire and I bought a not-so-pure ruby. Who cares about the quality of the stone, right? It's the prettiness that counts. And my pendant is super pretty and I love it. The woman who helped us/sold us/badgered us was really nice, too. She was shocked when she found out that our tuition fees are like, S$6000 a year (or is it half a year? Shit, I don't remember), because tuition fees at a public university in Thailand is way lower. When my mom was trying to get her to give us a discount she got her manager to come over and, like, negotiate or whatever. But the point is, the manager asked me how old I am, I said 'twenty', and she gave me this 'are you fucking kidding' look. In fact, the very nice woman also expressed surprise/shock/disbelief when I told her my age. I swear, it's the stupid bangs. Ugh. And this sucks a lot because I wanna watch Borat and it's like R21 and I don't know how I'm gonna get in when I look like I'm 16. Fuuuccckkk.
Anyway, the only reason why we went to Silom Village was because the tour guide told us about this tiny shop there that sold "genuine fakes". In other words, high-quality imitation goods. I went there thinking I wasn't gonna buy nothin' 'cause I didn't care much for imitation goods.
Guess what? I walked out S$88 poorer and a Juicy Couture imitation bag richer.
I am very, very ashamed of myself, especially since parts of the bag are leather. The entire store reeked of leather and the guy there (who spoke alarmingly good English. He even pronounced "Chloe" correctly) evaded my question when I asked if it was leather 'cause I made it plain earlier on that I wouldn't buy leather goods. And yes, I exercised wilfull blindness and for that I ought to kill myself. I make myself feel better by reminding myself that I own a grand total of three leather products: the bag, a pair of boots I bought when I was 13, and a watch which was a gift from my cousins in Taiwan.
But still, 'twas was a despicable moment of weakness and that will never, ever happen again, contrary to what the Boyfriend seems to believe. Nevermind.
The two aunties who were on the tour with us were damn good at haggling, though. They each bought a bag and they wanted the storekeeper to give us a 60% discount. The tagged price of my bag was like, 4000-something baht, which is like, 200-something Sing. They were all, "60% off or we're not buying." The storekeeper was all, "Can only give 57.5%!" (Like...okay.) Blah blah blah, they walked out, and a couple of seconds later, the storekeeper called them in and was all, "Okay, 60%!"
So yeah, that was quite cool. Aunties they might have been but they were nice and kind of sweet.
My mom and I met up with my cousin after that (she skipped the tour 'cause she's been on it like ten million times already) and we headed the foodcourt at the Big C to have lunch. I talked about this already. The supermarket was intriguing. Had a lot of stuff, and the largest durians I've ever seen in my life. Too bad I hate durians with a fiery passion.
We had coffee at Black Canyon coffee and I still didn't get a good cup of coffee. I forgot what I ordered but it was super fucking sweet and it made me sick. The coffee itself was good, but with the sweetener and all that shit it was just gross. I think I'll just stick to a latte. Or I'll start drinking espresso. I had my first espresso ever on Christmas Eve (or rather, Christmas, 'cause it was 12.30 a.m.) at this wine place at Mohammed Sultan. It was a single shot, a buck a pop, and I drank it black and unsweetened and it was awesome. Coffee should be bitter. Period.
I bought a dark maroon sling bag from one of those pushcarts in the mall. B190, if memory serves. That's like how cheap LAH!
The afternoon and the rest of the day was spent shopping. We headed over to the MBK (sorry I can't spell the full version) area and checked out Tokyu 'cause our guide told us that his mom likes buying lingerie there. It wasn't really any cheaper than the ones you get in Singapore; it carried the standard issue Wacoal Triumph etc, and it had like Morgan, but it was like FUCKING EXPENSIVE. Bleah. I bought a couple of sets, one which I found out was too big when I came back to Singapore and tried it on. It was on sale or something and they didn't allow trying, which sucks. The only reason I bought it? It was cheap. But it sucks. It's supposedly B75 but hell, for some reason the cups are fucking big and my boobs feel like they're swimming in said cups.
Okay, too much info. And I hate boy shorts; they make my ass look fat.
Way too much info. Anyway, on with the story.
Went to look at clothes after the lingerie and I tried on some stuff and discovered how tiny Thai people are. Size M tank tops were tight for me, oh my god. I felt fat. I did manage to buy something though, a white shirt with embroidery that my mom picked out for me. The clothes in departmental stores aren't significantly cheaper than the ones in Singapore so it makes no sense hanging around departmental stores, really. Oh well.
For dinner we walked to this seafood restaurant that serves awesome curry crab. I think the walk was like, twenty minutes long or something. The curry crab was good and tasted like potato chips. I think I wrote about this before.
MBK Centre; more Bangkok traffic (note the pink cabs - so pretty!); me and 1/3 of MBK Centre; my cousin and my mother; Tokyu, beside MBK Centre, where we did our lingerie shopping; a beggar with a Dunkin' Donuts cup lying along the overhead walkway towards Tokyu; a 'please check your belongings' sign in the lingerie fitting room, and if you look real close, you can see the handwritten 'e' added at the end of the misspelled 'before'; we took the Ferris Wheel at the Suan Lum Night Bazaar; my mother and I on the Ferris Wheel; my cousin on the Ferris Wheel; and the food centre at the Night Bazaar.
Suan Lum Night Bazaar. This is exactly why Bangkok kicks ass: Awesome, AWESOME shopping. It was like three Bugis Villages and we were there for a couple of hours and I think we only covered like a quarter of it. So many shops, so many items, and man, I regret not eating at the food centre because there were so many stalls. I bought a green t-shirt there, a tank top and a skirt, a packet of voodoo dolls, and I forgot what else. And the Ferris Wheel. It was really big and tall and apparently it was from France. My mom took a while to decide to take it 'cause it looked kinda scary due to its massive height but it wasn't - at all. In fact, we had about three rounds' worth and that was it. It didn't rock very much when we were stuck in mid-air either, and it had enclosed...I don't know, carriages, whatever, as opposed to open-aired, like, chairs or whatever so it wasn't scary at all. I mean, how scary can a Ferris wheel get, right? Yeah, I know.
This cute Thai guy working there was totally checking me out. Ha, ha.
So that's Day Two.