Stuck in Bangkok, Thailand ~ Oh the hardship!

We arrive in Bangkok after 3 days of travel from the U.S. via Taipei. We take the Bangkok super modern Sky Train from the airport to get downtown, and go straight to the Indian Embassy with our bags, to apply for our visas for India. But a surprise awaits us! Our visas will take 6-8 working days ~ not 3 days as we had expected.

And so…. we find ourselves stuck in Bangkok!Waiting for our visas for India.

We have of course missed our flights to Kochi, India, and as well the Oman harvest festival in the Kerala region we were hoping to experience. One thing we have learnt is that when you travel, you have to be flexible and roll with the punches. Take things in stride and make the most of where ever you are, even if it’s not where you thought you would be!

The view from the boat taxi as we leave the downtown section of Bangkok with its soaring skyscrapers, ultra modern shopping malls and rampant sex industry.
View of temple from the boat taxi as we approach “our” neighborhood in Prah Artit ~ an older and quainter area of Bangkok.

Bangkok is not a bad place to be stuck for a while… Especially now that we have found the neighborhood we like ~ the small scale Prah Arthit with its cafes and bars and fort, right next to the Chao Phraya River. A very different experience to our first few times in Bangkok.
We spend a total of 9 days in our neighborhood. Our first move, once we drop off our suitcases is to go for a Thai massage. And we keep going for them… almost daily. There are at least 20 places within minutes of our small guesthouse. (Generally in Asia, we have enjoyed the omnipresence of massage offerings at between $10-15 per hour.)
Foot massage on the street! You can see in the background, across the road, there are more massage chairs outside waiting for customers.
We get into a rhythm of going to a few small places we find with really good food at great prices. Bangkok is very much about food! We start our days with fresh coconut water from baby coconuts and the most amazing croissants and baguette.
“Konnichipan” ~ Our favorite neighborhood bakery… First stop for breakfast. Owned by a Japanese man who has mastered the art of the French boulangerie. (We have to leave Bangkok eventually, just to stop eating these every day….)
These baby coconuts have the sweetest water ever!
The neighborhood is spilling over with food stalls on the sidewalks and our favorite vendors now start to acknowledge us as “locals.”
Our favorite flamboyant street vendor of small fish grilled on the sidewalk. Each day he wore a brighter, pinker, or more fun outfit than the day before.
Fresh and delicious. Yum!
These are a Bangkok neighborhood specialty. Crispy pancake base with two options of toppings, one sweet and one savory. Combinations of coconut, egg, golden thread and spices. So delicious and addictive.
Mobile street vendor with fresh fruit ~ to be found on almost every street! Pineapple, mangoes, watermelon, papaya. Whole or pre cut into bite size pieces. (Why doesn’t the U.S. have any of these on the streets?)
Famous Issan spicy sausages. Adam, eat your heart out!
The option and variety of foods on the street, is astounding. It’s good, tasty and cheap.
Huge tub of marinating cooked fish, sold on the sidewalk.
Our favorite Thai soup “Hole in the wall” around the corner. Fresh and delicious. Steaming mushrooms, fish balls and tofu.
Herbal soup with  small fish balls (taste like gefilte fish), mushrooms, tofu, bean sprouts, noodles and lemon grass.
Ben hits the ground running in his new job as VP of International Strategy and Business Development. He has no time for jet lag and starts working on our first day in Bangkok. He has meetings with the US embassy and Thai aerospace industry. Meanwhile, I (Peta) am plotting our down time for when Ben is free.
The one activity we tried to do the last time in Bangkok, but it was closed, was to go and see a performance of traditional Thai Puppetry. There is one specific place for this, deep in the heart of the old Bangkok, in an old restored Thai wooden house, which is particularly hard to find called “The Artist House”… but, we persevere and get there for a performance.
This is the area where the “Artist House” is located, on an old klong (canal). The house is more than 200 years old.
All the houses and stores along this canal open to a continuous wooden boardwalk along the front. This allows one to peek inside and see homes such as this one, decorated with numerous images of Thai Royalty.
The Artist House is a place for all kinds of artists ~ this oil painting does a great job of capturing the feel and atmosphere of the front wooden deck of The Artist House, on the canal.
A nod of thanks to the puppetry master before the performance begins.
On a small wooden stage, intricately made puppets are manipulated by several artists all dressed in black. Each day a different story based on Thai folklore is narrated, involving mythological creatures and deities, with the small audience sitting in four rows of chairs and on the floor around the stage.
Three artists manipulate one large puppet. Their movements are graceful and beautiful and mimic the movements of the puppet. Mesmerizing to watch!
Ben gets some personal puppet attention.
The movements of the artists/puppet manipulators are captivating and beautiful to watch. The puppets become alive, even though one can see their manipulators doing their artistry. The feeling is of  the puppeteers “hiding in full view.” You know they are there, but the puppets themselves take center stage and come alive.
In front of the Artist House, on the canal, where large snakefish reside.
At the Artist House, in front of the small wooden stage for performances, is the ubiquitous table of offerings.. Flowers, food, incense and candles.
After the puppet show, we take a walk along the canals and come across a large Buddhist temple.

Bowls of woven flowers for sale on the street, used in temples and small shrines as offerings to the spirits.
Modern painting on the wall of a temple, in the style of Ayutayha period.

Got our visas!  Ready to move on and continue the journey… Good bye Bangkok.

6 thoughts on “Stuck in Bangkok, Thailand ~ Oh the hardship!

  1. Maya

    It doesn’t sound too bad to get stuck in Bangkok… and you are right, you have to be flexible and just see how things work out. Visas can be a pain in the ass – when we tried to get our Chinese visas in Vietnam, Gili had to get a new passport because they claimed there wasn’t enough room in his passport! (luckily there was an Israeli embassy in Hanoi and it didn’t take long). Have fun in India, looking forward to hearing about it.

    1. Peta Kaplan and Ben Sandzer-Bell

      Maya, yes, we both got extra pages for our passports while in the U.S. Some countries such as Indonesia won’t let you in if you only have 2 pages left in your passport. I also got an extra thick passport when I applied for a new passport this time so that it will last longer!
      India coming up in three weeks… but first…. Sri Lanka!

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