Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Kingdom of Siam

This is the second chapter on L's summer vacation series....

Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok is probably the largest airport I've ever been in. Thailand, formerly Siam is governed by a constitutional monarchy. this system is something like a monarchy where the head of state (the King) is bound by a constitution, so it is not like he can do whatever he wants, and a prime minister is usually also appointed.

On our first day in Bangkok we got to visit King Bhumibol Adulyadej's Royal Palace (where he does not live in anymore) and a few Buddhist temples, the first of many. I won't go into the historic and religious details of these temples, but I will share my impressions with you: Thai people are very religious and they have lots of rituals! I don't know how they remember them all. The lotus flower is a very important symbol in Buddhism and people offer these to Buddha along with fruits, meat, money, and other kinds of flowers.

One of my favorite things about Bangkok was the street food. You can eat delicious kinds of meats, fish and vegetables rolled into balls and deep fried. There was some kind of sweet banana that was superb and we also tried a pork sausage that was to be eaten with a really hot chili pepper (I didn't get to far on the pepper). At the night street markets you will find the pirated version of any and all famous brand names in the world, whether it is clothing, purses, shoes, jewelry, movies or music, they have it. No software though... that I saw. Did I mention there is a Thai beer called Leo?

Although illegal, prostitution seemed very common, and some of the girls on the street were quite young, probably in their early teens. Bangkok by day is much like any capital city with its hotels, museums, bridges, shopping centers and temples. By night it turns into sex shows, muay thai fights, food venues and illegal markets (all of which are flooded with tourists) .

After Bangkok we set out on a trip by land to visit many smaller cities in Thailand: Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Pitsanuloke, Sukhothai, Lampang, Chiang Mai, Tha-Ton and Chiang Rai. We got to see temples, ruins, big Buddhas and small ones, pagodas, and even monkeys!

In Chiang Mai, which is the second largest city in Thailand, we visited the zoo there and an elephant "farm". The elephants were unbelievably smart, they could play sports, dance and even paint! We got to ride in them and that was really exciting too :-D

We have lots more pictures and stories of things we did, but I am going to leave it at this, otherwise I will never be done with my post.

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