One (More) Night
|Near the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Our last dinner together.
A staple in Bangkok traffic - the tuk tuk.
November 19, 2006
Yesterday was our chance to wrap up any remaining things we wanted to do in Bangkok before leaving Thailand.
It became apparent when we were in Chiang Mai what our first item on the agenda would be: go to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and see
the actual Emerald Buddha - as opposed to three impostors we saw the first time around. Actually, we thought we were pretty cool that we saw
three jade Buddhas when every book my sister had was talking about only one Buddha. My sister only realized this on our last day in Chiang Mai
when she was reading her favorite book – Fodor’s Guide to Thailand. I’m still not sure if she was reliving her memories in Bangkok and that is
how she stumbled on this information. At first she seemed a bit bummed out that we didn’t see the real deal. I understood. I was a bit bummed,
too. We were bummed about different things, though. She was bummed about missing the site. I was bummed about the two of us being smart
individuals with master’s degrees. And even with our combined intelligence we managed to completely miss the most important site in Bangkok
while being just meters away.
Michelle quickly went from appearing ‘bummed out’ to being just plain upset. She was sad. I was sad. But I wasn’t sad about not seeing the
Buddha. I was sad because this whole thing was making her so sad. I told her I would do whatever she wanted so we ended up changing our
flight a few hours earlier to go back to Bangkok so that we could have time to see the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Happiness was going to be
We got to the temple and it really could not have been clearer about which direction to go to see this. In order to make ourselves not feel like as
big of idiots, we told ourselves that the sign probably wasn’t there when we came the first time.
We walked through the gate and we were automatically in sparkle overload. In a good way. There is no way to capture this temple complex with
a camera. It is absolutely not possible. The detail on every building is so different from one another; each one is so ornate. To tell the truth, I
have found that there are times where it is almost nice when something can’t be captured through a lens. The act of seeing and experiencing the
site is that much more appreciated. (In contrast, there are so many sites in different cities that you can make look incredible with a camera yet
are really lackluster in person.)
I felt like I was walking around a Buddhist Disneyland. There were fun-looking ‘Buddha protectors’ all over the place.
The heart of this complex lies in one of the temples in the form of a jade Buddha known as ‘The Emerald Buddha’. He was donning his winter
clothes which was hard to believe considering every single person was dripping with sweat due to the heat. I am here to report that it was pretty
darn impressive. The whole thing was impressive. I was glad we came back.
After we were done there, it was time to tend to my needs. This meant we were heading back to the Thai Privilege Spa and getting one ‘final
farewell’ Thai massage. Michelle was not protesting. It was just as good as the first time. Ahhh…
First was the farewell massage; then was the farewell meal. We chose a restaurant (Mahanaga) that Michelle had read about in Travel & Leisure
and Conde Nast Traveller. Being mentioned in these publications made it a safe bet that we were going to be ending our time here on a very
good note. And we will both say that it did not disappoint. The service was impeccable as was the food (really – how can a person go wrong with
Pad Thai with lobster???).
To draw out our time just a bit more, we went to ‘Flava’ at the hip Dream boutique hotel (actually, they call themselves a ‘hautel couture’). The
dj was spinning some really good music which just added to the already-great ambience.
And then it was time to call it a night. But not before discovering that two out of the three vases in a set that I bought had all but shattered.
Michelle would only be taking the survivor home. I had to part ways with my visions of what I was going to do with the ‘set of vases’ once I
bought a place.
At three o’clock this morning, Michelle was giving me a hug good-bye and headed off to the airport. After she left, I laid in bed in a teeny bit of a
funk knowing that she was gone and not knowing exactly the next time I am going to see her.
My funk grew a bit larger about thirty minutes later when I realized that I pulled another scatterbrained move.
Before we left Phuket, I put my two pairs of shoes in one of her bags because I thought it was easier than bringing them in my carry-on. As she
was off to the airport, I realized that my two pairs of shoes were still in her bags. All I have now are the flip-flops that I am wearing. I guess
buying shoes is on the agenda for when I arrive in Vietnam.
I was unable to get back to sleep after Michelle left because I was scared of sleeping in and missing my flight. I rocked out to my Bollywood CD
(singing the English words since those are the only ones I really know what they’re saying) and even had a little dance party of sorts with myself
in the room. Being alone definitely has its advantages.
I am now at the airport. Got in an early morning argument with a taxi driver who wouldn’t use the meter and was asking 600 Baht for the ride.
He ended up leaving me on the curb. The second taxi driver was much more accommodating. And by the time I got to the airport, I was paying
him less than 200 Baht for the ride. Just proof that you have to wake up very early to pull one over on Jen Nathan (as it was 6:30am).
So, this is it for Thailand. I had a great time. While I didn’t really experience the ‘wow’ factor that I have in many other places, I know that there
is so much more of this country I have yet to see. And I am looking forward to it in the future…