This is a little after the fact. I wasn’t expecting to be writing so much blog whilst on holiday, or for that matter, anywhere. But now I’ve started it’s proving hard to stop. A pent up writing frustration perhaps. Running a film company is less like film-making and more like running a company, but it’s better than sifting shit for gold fillings so won’t grumble.
But getting away has relaxed my mind and a few words on Bangkok cannot hurt. It was the front bumper of our holiday, three nights staying at The Lit hotel. We flew in from rain soaked Heathrow with EVA airlines. Oh my God! Top banana. They bumped us up and we had a great flight. the check in girl saw we were sat twelve rows apart and made a call. She said “we have a contact” and went on to mention other terms in code. I expected the drug squad to appear and haul us off for a cavity search. But no, instead we got improved leg room, over one foot between my knees and the seat in front. Seats that sagged majestically into a deck chair posture. Nice food, blankets and towels and slippers to boot. The eleven hours evaporated.
The Lit Hotel is very new, very funky and very slick. But also very friendly, very efficient and fun. A room with flare, although actually called Different Degree. Big TV and usual plush bits and bobs. Air con was very good which was vital when you stepped out into forty degree heat and high humidity.
The river is great fun. But you must be driven down a dark alley by the porter’s cousin and deposited at the boat hire place owned by their uncle. At least that way you have been hood-winked by the whole family, which in some way feels okay. We didn’t object anyway to paying twenty five quid to go up the river anyway. It’s such an amazing spectacle, it’s worth the while. Bangkok thrives on its river relies on it. All major cities need a bloody great waterway coursing through them, it gives them blood and lust. Have you been to Valencia? They re-routed theirs and stuck public amusements in the river bed, bloody stupid. It feels like the city lost its purpose.
We were dropped at Wat Arun’s jetty and the driver promised to be back in an hour. We liked the fantasy but just assumed he wouldn’t. So up we went to the temple. An enormous pointed spigoty breast of a thing. very steep, so Kate and I were sufficiently ginger. Not suggesting red haired folk are better at climbing temples, of course. I don’t believe that any hair colour strongly affects ones ability to climb. Perhaps length?
Going up was tough and coming down was tougher still. But whilst we were up we took a moment to leave a little prayer for something we would like and then walked about it once. Nobody fell down and we headed back to he jetty an hour later. There he was, there was our driver man waving at us. Streuth. He ferried us back across the river and we tuk-tuk’d home.
What else did we get up to? Well, we did drink cocktails on the sixty third floor open air bar of The BanYang Tree Hotel. That was amazing. Quite a view, especially of the approaching lightening storm that finally beat us to a retreat. Well worth a visit.
And let’s not forget the Grande Palace that was so Grande we could barely take it all in. An enormous complex of temples and buildings and shrines and hideaway corners. But in temperatures as high as they were, we were pretty bushed.
The Thai were all very polite and charming and very easy going. But as a tourist we soon learned that you must believe almost nobody when they tell you something is shut, never believe an official looking bloke outside an attraction, he’s just an official looking bloke and just remember how small and minuscule the amounts of money are that you’re haggling over and spread a bit of love back!
I want to leave with you with our best two little excursions, Wat Pho and it’s reclining Buddha. Although I think I should really say Buddha’s Wat Pho as he consumes so much of the floor space. The building that surrounds this hundred foot long (or more!) reclining statue is magnificently cool and tranquil. The ceiling seems to hang thunderously yet safely very high above you. Cool air and darkness plops down on you and as your shoes areas the entrance, you automatically take on an air of comfort, or foot odour.
He seems quite at peace despite tourists staring and flashing cameras at him, and behind him are iron owls and tubs of coins you can buy. Drop a coin in each bowl and make a little wish, the sound seems rude and harsh but it’s a lovely way to pay tribute. We left his sleepiness behind and set foot to follow the sound of chanting.
The ordination temple floor is split in two, one side for monks and one for us lot. They were chanting and praying whilst we sat and took it all in. You may know that I am not a religious man in any way that anybody else recognises but my spiritual side was raised to the max and we both came away feeling calm and peaceful. Top visit.
The other lovely spot was Jim Thompson’s house, which conveniently was just behind the hotel. He isn’t the local crack baron or whore house owner, nor does he fix tuk-tuks or build outboards, but he loved Bangkok until vanishing mysteriously at the age of sixth one in Malaysia whilst walking in the mountains. Can it be that mysterious to go missing whilst walking in the mountains? I have some clues as to what may have happened!
Anyway, his house and collections of Thai art and furniture are beautiful and his houses were brought timber by timber from all over Thailand. The guides are delightful and you do get a feel for old Thailand. It started to chuck it down as we finished and so we stayed in their bar and had a drink. This bar was lovely though and we could relax whilst watching the rain startle the Coy Carp who were unduly stirred by its arrival. (I think there should be a band called The Coy Carp)
The next morning’s taxi at 3am did somewhat bring down the karma but we knew it was taking us to Bali and that had a very calming effect. We both really enjoyed Bangkok, not at all what we had heard from people or were to expect. I think the absence of ping ping balls, pipes and poles was a good idea and focusing on the chill. Will be back.