Bangkok Thailand 2014: On the grounds of the Royal Palace.
Greetings from Bangkok...
14 August 2014: One week of being pampered in the marvelous Sukosol Hotel discovered on my previous trip to the city allowed me to wind down in preparation for a week visit to the ancient Siamese capital city ruins at Ayutthaya an hour north of Bangkok. I had visited the place briefly back in January 2003 and looked forward to spending more leisure time in the Kungsri River Hotel found last time. The relaxed pace gave me time to review all of the huge backlog of website development tasks long deferred and a chance to catch up with way too many email messages from friends which have arrived during my marathon medical odyssey.
On 21 August 2014: I hopped a bus heading north for the city of Ayutthaya for an intended one week of hiking around the ruins and lolling in a comfortable hotel room with a perfect river traffic view for entertainment.
29 August 2014: Three days ahead of my planned return to this city to meet a friend at the airport, a gall bladder attack prompted an urgent emergency return to where Bangkok's Bumrungrad Hospital personnel are located. As usual, treatment could not have been more prompt, nor competent. After an ultrasound examination and blood tests, the gastroenterologist confirmed I had experienced an infection of my gall bladder and advised scheduling an operation to remove the troublesome organ... but not until many weeks after we had cured the infection with a course of Ciprofloxacin antibiotic. He explained an operation to remove the gall bladder is indicated if it can be done within 24 hours of the attack, but would need to be delayed about a month after resolving the discovered infection.
So, my complicated, carefully coordinated travel plans could proceed, at least for the immediate future when a friend would be joining me for a couple weeks of adventure travel. My neighbor/friend from Las Vegas had persuaded me to allow her to tag along on the Vietnam segment of my adventure and her arrival was to have coincided with my planned return to the city. Frantic emails and phone calls disrupted our coordinated planning for the few days just before her planned departure. It was a cliff hanger for about 48 hours, but in the end everything worked out fine and my friend arrived on schedule as planned and we proceeded to do tourist things for the following week before heading north into Vietnam to see the fabulous Karst geological formations which make Halong Bay famous.
Winda had a short list of things she encouraged me to fit into our "tourist activities" including an elephant ride, seeing the Emerald Buddha, and riding one of the passenger commuter boats running around the canal system still in use here. I had my own personal list of "tourist" activities which included lunches at two of my favorite restaurants, the Oishi Grand Buffet on the 2nd floor of Siam Discovery shopping mall and the Bluespice in the Centre Point Terminal 21 shopping center, a ferryboat ride up the river to the Grand Palace and a tour of the Bumrungrad Hospital about which I have so often raved.
After reading more about the dwindling herds of elephants in Thailand Winda changed her mind about the desirability of hiring one of the beasts and its mahout and settled for pictures. A visit to the Grand Palace compound to see the famous Emerald Buddha showed up on both our lists along with the ferry ride up the river to reach the site.
As I have spent a lot of time in this city it is always a surprise to discover something wonderful overlooked during previous trips. The Canton House (Phyathai Krua Krungthep Restaurant) is not much to look at from the outside, but all the young Thais (mostly students I surmised) filling chairs every time I passed the place on walks from the Sukosol Hotel made me suspect locals must be enjoying something special. So, I began my love affair with this unpresumptuous little neighborhood eatery with the gourmet cooks and boutique cuisine. Most of the scurrying young staff speak only Thai, but restaurant manager, Chanya has an excellent command of my foreign tongue and enjoys chatting with her English speaking guests... initially to explain the endless delights found among the pages of the fat menu. Located under the shadow of the elevated BTS line between the Ratchathewee and Phaya Thai stations, it is conveniently located near my current hotel, the magnificent Sukosol.
Next, we head north to Hanoi, Vietnam and then bus over to the amazing Halong Bay to see all the Karst geological formations jutting above the bay waters. 'til then,
Fred L Bellomy