After an incredibly long trip (approximately 28 hours with layovers in Seattle and Seoul) we arrived in Bangkok and met up with Ali and Byrun. It was so excellent to see them! We hopped in their car and started looking for our hotel. In Thailand they drive on the opposite side of the road and so it was pretty impressive to see Byrun driving out here. I swear he has nerves of steel. On top of it all he drives a standard too! We had a few technical difficulties finding the Nasa Vegas Hotel since they had left the map at the hotel but with some quick thinking we hired a taxi to drive there while we followed. Since our flight came in just after midnight we basically got to the hotel and crashed.
The next morning we were up bright and early and ready to explore Bangkok! One convenient thing about the Nasa Vegas Hotel is that the train runs right by there and you can catch for free (you have to pay on the way back but train fare is cheap). We hopped on the ancient train and decided to take a trip down the river after finding some breakfast. We ate at a little roadside stand for about $1/person (30 baht) and then we walked to the riverside and got on the ferry.
I'd recommend the ferry to anyone traveling in Bangkok. Just be careful to get on the local one and not the tourist one. How do you know you're on the local one? It should cost you about 16 baht (roughly 50 cents) as opposed to 120 baht. There is no annoying loud speaker, just lots of locals, monks and a ticket lady that will shake her can in your direction to prompt you to pay. It isn't the fastest boat but it is cheap and reliable and makes all the appropriate stops to the Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn), Wat Pho and Grand Palace.
We all decided to visit the Wat Arun and so we got off the ferry and took another little ferry boat to the Wat (since it's on the opposite side of the river). I was excited to get to have my first coconut in Thailand! YUM! I can't get enough coconut, that's for sure.
The Wat is really beautiful and REALLY tall. You can climb up pretty high. I recommend doing that, unless you are extremely afraid of heights. I am not afraid of heights and I had to pause and work up the nerve to take the super steep stairs to get back down again. There's lots of cool mosaic tile work on this Wat, however, I was dismayed to see they had to put up signs reminding people not to vandalize it by carving their name on the wall. People can be so idiotic sometimes.
When we had our fill of the Wat we got back on the ferry but then decided to stop around Chinatown to find something to eat. We must have been in the wrong section (all shops, no restaurants) so we went back to the pier and took a fast boat (the boys really wanted to). It was a really cool first day in Thailand and we were able to say that in the last 24 hours we had traveled by plane, train, boat, car and tuk tuk! To see all the vibrant, fantastic pictures you should go here!