Greetings from the City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra’s behest.
Yep, that’s the name of this place.
We just call it Bangkok.
Here’s the full name of this place in Thai:
กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบูรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์
It sounds like this:
Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit (listen to it spoken)
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the longest place name in the world. I bet you didn’t know that.
We’ve come North to Bangkok to escape the smokey haze that is blanketing Singapore, Malaysia, and parts of Indonesia. But before I tell you about Bangkok, let’s get caught up on the rest of our visit to Singapore…
The day after our last blog post, we went to the Singapore National Library to do a little research. Like so many of the places we visited in Singapore, it is in a big, modern building.
It is a giant library and it was full of people. There were lots of younger people who looked like students studying, kids and families in the large children’s area, and lots of old guys reading newspapers. Yep, they still print those things and the old guys in Singapore apparently still like the paper versions.
Of course Jette had to do some cartwheels. I’m not sure, but that’s probably illegal in Singapore. It can’t be as bad as selling chewing gum, walking around in your own house naked, or annoying someone with a musical instrument…can it?!
Mila and I thumbed through a big stack of guide books on various places in SE Asia and Jette looked up books on the Rhine River to reference in her report on the Rhine. The library had a couple of children’s books on rivers in general which mentioned the Rhine, but nothing specific to the Rhine. I thought it might be a good idea to look up the Rhine in a good old-fashioned encyclopedia – a printed encyclopedia, not Wikipedia. Little did I know, this would lead to much confusion and hilarity.
First I asked at one of the main information desks where the “general reference section” of the library was. I was met with blank stares. There was no reference section and the librarians didn’t seem to have a clue what I was talking about. I asked where the encyclopedias were shelved. More blank stares.
Never heard of it.
Um…yeah. This was going to be interesting.
Jette and I explained that she was researching the Rhine River in Europe and she wanted to get some basic facts on the river from an encyclopedia or other reference book. More confused looks from the librarian. We went back and forth for some time trying to explain what an encyclopedia was. She looked up “Encyclopedia Britannica” and found nothing. Finally she figured out that the Dewey Decimal code for encyclopedic works was “030” and told us where we would find them on the far side of the library.
Jette and I followed her directions, checking the dewey decimal numbers on the end of each row of bookshelves and as we walked. There didn’t seem to be a shelf for 030! There were shelves and shelves of “000” computer science books that seemed to go on forever, and then it seemed to jump right into “100” books on philosophy. We wandered back and forth, looking for “030” without any luck.
We asked another librarian, who barked at us in Singlish. Do you speak Singlish? It’s the unofficial language of Singapore and an odd tongue.
She didn’t seem to be want to direct us to the shelves for 030. She wanted to know the title of the book we were looking for. We told her we were looking for an Encyclopedia. Blank stare.
I tired to explain what an general encyclopedia was. Her face looked like a TV screen full of static.
“It’s a reference book. Just like dictionaries are to words and atlases are to maps, encyclopedias are to facts.”
“Oh you want dictionary!” she barked and dragged us over to some Chinese-English dictionaries.
“No, an encyclopedia” we said.
I pulled up a photo of an Encyclopedia Britannica set on my phone an showed it to her. She crunched up her face in a scowl and barked, “What title, lah?!”
Clearly we were getting nowhere, so once again I showed her the little slip of paper in my had with “030” written on it. “Can you show us where 030 is?” I asked.
She was clearly ready to done with these crazy foreign devils who talked nonsense. She took the slip and started walking back and forth along the shelves we had originally been searching. After a couple of passes, she stopped somewhere in middle, her finger pointing, and barked triumphantly, “030!”. Then she marched off.
There were exactly three books in the 030 section. All three were very slim paperbacks on trivia.
Here’s an interesting bit of trivia for you:
Librarians in Singapore don’t know what an encyclopedia is!!!!!!!!!!
So much for Jette using the research section at the library. Wikipedia it is.
We donned our masks and decided to walk a bit.
We walked through Clarke Quay, which since the last time I was in Singapore in 1993, has been converted into a giant pedestrian mall. It’s a bit theme-parky for our tastes, but it is certainly a hot spot. They were setting up for Oktoberfest celebrations. Yes, Oktoberfest in Singapore!
Beer is expensive in Singapore. Even at Oktoberfest.
(S$1 = $0.71 USD)
We walked on through and stopped at a grocery store in one of the nearby shopping malls. It was a grocery store with lots of products from Japan. Some of the produce was shockingly expensive:
We picked up some less expensive fruit to munch on, and went upstairs to one of the toast shops in the mall. Toast is “a thing” in Singapore, though you might not recognize it as toast.
They had a nice guide to ordering kopi (Singaporean coffee):
Check out those combos!
No Kopi + C for me. Just teh kosong, thank you very much!
The next day was Saturday. We met our friends and took the kids ice skating.
A good time was had by all. After skating, Adam had a friend over for a sleepover and Mia came back to the hotel for a sleepover with Jette. There was a good bit of TV time, dinner at the hotel restaurant, and even some swimming when the air pollution index dropped below 200.
Goofing around at dinner:
In the morning we had pancakes and went to see Hotel Transylvania 2.
After the movie, we had a sushi lunch at one of the conveyer belt restaurants. Lots of the restaurants here have iPads or touch screen ordering at the table.
After lunch we took Mia home by taxi said “thank you” and “goodbye” to our wonderful friends and hosts.
(Thank you Tarek, Rachel, Mia and Adam! We’re so glad we finally got to visit you in Singapore after all these years. It was such a pleasure. See you next year in Tejas!)
We went back to the hotel, got cleaned up and then took a taxi to Arab Street for dinner. Arab Street is in a neighborhood with a number of quaint little streets and alleys lined with shops and restaurants with sidewalk dining. The scale is nice and narrow streets and alleys give it a bit of the feel of old Singapore. At night it really comes alive. I didn’t take my camera but these photos and these too should give you a sense of what it looks like.
The next morning we packed our bags and headed to the airport to catch a flight to Bangkok.
We decided that the health risks and effects of continued exposure to the smokey haze just wasn’t worth it, and with the air quality so bad in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, we figured it was time to head North to cleaner air.
The original notion was to spend a few days in Bangkok and then take the night train to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. We would use Chiang Mai as a base for exploring the local flora, fauna and culture. Of course you can’t even begin to scratch the surface of Bangkok in a few days, and I think Mila is hooked on this city, so here we are. I think we’ll be spending at least a week more here in Bangkok before we head to our next destination.
This post is getting long, so I am going to wrap it up for now.
More on on Thailand adventures soon!
I’ll leave you with a video of our Pad Thai being made at one of the stalls in Silom Square Food Center. Yum!