Max joined me for a short workout at 630AM, then with Sue and Ben in
tow we hit the breakfast buffet, which catered to upscale business travelers from both hemispheres: bangers and beans for the Commonwealth crowd, pork and noodles for the Chinese, plenty of wonderful Thai fruit, and bacon, eggs and bready goods for our boys. Thus ended my Asian weight loss ambitions.
At 830 our guide “Mr T” joined us in the lobby and helped us navigate a boat, sky train and back alley to our embarkation point. T was a jovial fellow with a colorful past: he worked for an American-funded NGO for a while, and when that funding was cut off he moved to America and served as a YMCA counsellor in Fort Wayne (which he doesn’t recommend visiting), returned to Bangkok as an ESL teacher, but learned that he preferred being outside so now works as a freelance tour guide.
T was quick to smile, good with the boys, and took time to show and share the plants along our path: Gooseberry, Thai Basil, Kaffir Lemon, Birds of Paradise; Lemongrass (used on house borders to deter snakes), and Water Hyacinth (a choking, invasive danger to aquatic life).
His longboat canal tour was a very good call… we enjoyed the cool water breeze and sight-seeing away from exhaust, crowds and horns. The longboat slows frequently when passing other boats, “floating grocery stores” and animals… we passed dozens of small white egrets and large monitor lizards swimming and lounging canal-side. We enjoyed brief stops at an orchid farm, a fish farm, and an ornate temple with an amazing jade stupa sculpture. In 2011 Bangkok flooded when upstream rains, bad water management and a high tide converged to swamp the city – no deaths but plenty of destruction as the high water mark appeared to be about 6-10’ above current levels
Managing our trains and boats back to the Chatrium, we donned swimsuits and spent a relaxing afternoon on their infinity outdoor pool, enjoying Bangkok views and avoiding the city’s steam. Reading, snacking, relaxing… it was a nice break from our aggressive travel schedule. At night we boated down the Chao Phraya and enjoyed a fancy Thai dinner and simple shopping in the touristy Asiatique shopping center before returning to a late sleep.