Happy New Year!!!
After leaving Ko Lanta, Nick and I spent a couple more relaxing days on Phuket in the beach town of Kata.
(that's not us in the water....but it looks nice, doesn't it?)
And stayed just long enough to ring in the New Year with a lady boy show and some fire works on the beach before heading off to Thailand's capital city: Bangkok.
Bangkok is a fabulous city, and fortunately we were able to take advantage of all of their public transportation - from their colorful taxi-cabs
(I especially love their pink ones!)
to their sky train, subway, buses, and water-taxis
(picture source here)
We found the city accessible, easy to navigate, and lots of fun to explore!
We arrived in Bangkok on a public holiday which meant that the popular tourist attractions were extra packed - mostly with Thai tourists - so we decided to escape the crowds and check out some of Bangkok's city parks.
On our way to the pier - we were catching a water taxi to the park - we actually stumbled upon a little park next to a beautiful old fort. They had some cool lanterns set up around the park (maybe left-over from a lantern festival) and a small tribute to the King.
After strolling around looking at the lanterns, we headed to Lumphini Park.
One thing I really liked about this park was that they had a 500-meter rubberized track for runners and walkers. I would LOVE to have one of these in a park in Denver, and I can't believe they haven't put one in a park in Boulder yet! (But then again the track is made of rubber, which is made with oil, which would mean Boulderites would be supporting the oil regimes... so perhaps it was a concious decision to leave the trails natural... ahhh Boulder hippies!)
There were three great things about Lumphini park:
(although right after this picture was taken, I was told that the swings were "only for baby!" and shooed off)
(2) a random 2-foot lizard that we saw walking through the lawn
Takraw is a game that is popular in Thailand and it's awesome. It's a bit like badminton or volleyball except it's played with a rattan ball and the players can use anything except their hands to propel the ball over the net. Nick and I watched four guys playing for almost 1/2 hour - and I'll tell you what, I was impressed!
These guys were all middle-aged and I don't think I can even kick my legs up in the air the way they were doing... it was fantastic to watch!
After a couple hours at Lumphini Park, Nick and I headed to the last stop on our city park tour - Benjakiti Park. This park has a pretty big lake in the middle with a nice bike/walking path around it and a view of the Bangkok skyline:
It has some cool features like exercise equipment and a small meditation area where a little boy was praying:
It also had the park's various types of trees labeled with their names in Thai and an English translation. Nick and I found one of the translations particularly entertaining:
It was too hard to resist taking this picture:
(just as I was shooting this, Nick was getting whisteled at by the gaurds who thought he actually was giving the tree a golden shower!)
I have to say, Bangkok has some pretty nice city parks and we had a great day walking through the city.
We rounded out our day with a trip to China town so that I could practice my Chinese.
Unfortunately, our waitress was Thai, not Chinese, and the food didn't even compare to what we typically ate in Taiwan... but then Western food is always disapointing over here... so I'm not surprised that the Chinese food isn't as good as it was in Taiwan either. I guess we'll just have to go back to the T-wan if we really want to get the good stuff!