Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thailand: Night Bike Ride

We're not Thai, we don't live in Thailand, we are tourist so we often do touristy stuff and this is one of the cooler touristy options we've come across. Unlike Manila, bicycling around Bangkok has not really caught on among the Bangkokians but the folk at Grasshopper Bike tours are trying to do something about that - and using the tourist population as the vanguard! Not really, someone just came up with a neat idea that no one else had yet tapped into. They actually offer tours all over SE Asia but we were here for the 3 hour night bike tour of Bangkok. I was a bit hesitant about this having ridden bikes in many cities and driven cars in many cities and know that often times the two don't get along all that well. And involving my two little ones in this reality took some mindplay on my part. But my mind eventually convinced my mind that it was OK - the Grasshoppers are professionals, they have done this many times, they have made accommodations for the kids - so riding around the streets of Bangkok for 3 hours at night will be fine, just fine .... and it was. We saw parts of Bangkok we would not have seen otherwise and also a night perspective of some things we had seen during the day. Most temples are open into the evenings and are practically empty - very different experience than in the day when there are throngs of people about. I will admit that I was quite the mother hen or father rooster I guess (but I don't think the roosters tend much to the chicks, actually not at all so that idiom isn't really gender accommodating), riding behind Emmerson, reminding her to brake and mind this and watch out for that - she put up with me and did great. For Ada they had one of those ride-along-attachable bikes. So we rode tandem and she did great. Alicia rode up ahead to give me something to follow. The guide was a wonderfully kind and accommodating young Thai lady and she took good care of us. Because we had kids they actually divided the tour group in two and thus we had our own family guide. About halfway thru the tour, we were joined by a full on biker suit decked Grasshopper guy who had just returned to the office from a multi day tour and upon finding out that there was a family out on the tour with kids, he ventured out to find us just to see how we were doing and ride along for a while. That's some serious TLC. The tour starts around the royal palace area and then winds back thru Khalong (??) district - "backpacker" area and then through the campus of one of the most prestigious universities in Thailand. We then boarded a ferry which took us over to Bangkok's city sister (where the city originated) and for the most part simply considered another part of Bangkok. Across the Chao Phraya, we visited some temples and then rode back across the river on a bridge and ended the tour going through the night flower market. It covered about 10 miles and included several stops and some street snacks in the flower market. Our guide just asked us if we wanted to try this, our that, which was great because we could ask her all sorts of things about it and such. Nice, family activity.

Emmerson giving her bike a test spin outside of the Grasshopper Shop. Nice wide sidewalks here as this was along one of the main thoroughfares leading to the palace and such. You can kind of see a statue in the background at one of the traffic circles near the main drag to the palace.

The Grasshopper bike shop from where we started our tour.

I can just barely heft Emmerson up these days but she is getting really good at the pose. In front of one of the Wats (temples) we visited after crossing the river on a ferry. Nice at night - different.

Ada still doesn't have the pose down but she is certainly easier to heft.

Angry statues. Happy Duell family.

We are supposed to be posing.

The girls are desperate for a pet. All over Manila people have these fruiffy little pampered dog things that the girls absolutely love ... and every street cat they come across they coo over. Ada wanted to make this temple cat a Manilan.

Emmerson checking out the Buddha's

Wat at night - view towards the river and lights from Bangkok across the river.

Ada and Emmerson on the ferry going over to the temple complex.

 Chao Phraya River dinner boat.

Another of our stops was the night flower market. It is a section of the city devoted to flowers - mostly wholesale but lots of people getting them for personal use/enjoyment. The yellow are marigold - very popular adornment for the shrines that most houses and institutions have in their establishments.

Quite the scene.

 Lots of pre-packaged arrangements for shrines and other events/purposes.

Girls enjoying some street fare and a Fanta. We had some delightful crepeish type thing with almost a marshmallow merenguey filling - all done on the street. And some pork skewers for desert.

Piles of wrapped banana leaves to the right of the girls

More mariglods

Roses, about 1.50$ US for one of these cones.

Sleeping amongst her flowers. Always impressed how/when/where humans can sleep - stahls seem to be a good place!

 At the crepeish merenguy thing stahl. Our guide is in the back with the green shirt.

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