Sunday, February 21, 2010

Traveling Flip-flops in Asia's City of Angels: Bangkok

January 14, 2010
Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand draws visitors from across the world with an irresistible combination of breathtaking natural beauty, relaxing beaches, renowned hospitality, inspiring temples, delightful cuisine and remnants of vast ancient kingdoms. Always popular destinations for people like me who loves to travel. Thailand offers a holiday with many points of difference - your break can be as simple or as complex as you choose. Relax on a beach or ride elephants through a jungle. Enjoy an amazing Thai meal, a vibrant culture, fantastic shopping, ample accommodation, and plentiful opportunities to enjoy the nightlife and entertainment, or to kick back and unwind in complete relaxation. From the ruins kingdom of Ayutthaya and the natural wonders of Sukhothai, to the dance clubs of Bangkok and the tranquil floating villages moored along the Mekong River, Thailand offers something for every type of travelers.

We arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 11 o’clock in the evening. Pronounced as “su-wan-na-poom,” Suvarnabhumi means “The Golden Land”, which is a specific reference to the region of old Indochina, which included Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Burma. We manage to book ourselves a van and make it to the guesthouse near Pratunam Center hassle free. The first thing that hits us on leaving the air-conditioned van is the heat! I dump my stuff in my room; get ready and go to World Trade Center in the evening with my friends. We enjoy it more than we expected to. It’s busy, of course, but very friendly. And we feel perfectly safe walking around on our own despite the late hours.
BANGKOK... If New York City is known as “ the city that never sleeps” in the United States, well in South East Asia it’s twin sister is Bangkok also known as the “City of Angels” – although I could never work out quite why! Truly one of the most exciting cities in Asia. Smiling Romance and fun go hand in hand in this city. The highly urbanized and commercialized city may not necessarily suit all people’s needs or tastes particularly if you are in search of some serious “Rest & Relaxation”. But if it’s shopping and an unashamedly “hedonistic” – live for today for tomorrow you might die - pleasure and fun, then Bangkok Nightlife is for you! Bangkok though is not JUST about shopping and “abandoned” fun. As with all the rest of Thailand, culture and history are very important and still preserved in Bangkok. The city is home to over 400 Buddhist temples, the highest density in a city anywhere in Asia.
As we return to the guest house for a short break and power nap, we're out again at a 7:00 start and by some miracle we are in the guest house restaurant by 6.30 for breakfast =D. Armed with a map of the local area, We leave the guest house to do a bit of sight-seeing.

We discover that local tuk tuk drivers will take you around local sights dirt cheap if you agree to visit a few fashion shops (I think they make money by getting people into shops and even more money if you buy something). Just being in the tuk tuk is an experience! We love the feeling of the tuk tuk darting in and out of the busy traffic in the heat. We visit Wat Intharawihan, with its giant Standing Buddha statue, the Lucky Buddha temple, Marble temple and Golden Mount, all of which are beautiful temples and worth a visit. And if you want to explore local sights in tight budget and do not mind visiting shops in between, then this is a grand way to do it. If you do not like shops like me, you can just spend your time in the temples and dart in and out of the shops. Also, tuk tuk drivers will try and put you off visiting the grand palace or Wat Pho (usually by saying they are closed for a holiday). I am guessing this is because of the amount of time the visits entail. Although the grand palace officially closes at 3.30 everyday, this is actually the closing time for entrance. As long as you get there by this time, you will be okay. Wat Pho is open until later. We had lunch, and headed back - the Grand Temple was due to open at one. The temples there were absolutely amazing, golden and multicolored. If it were cooler, I'm sure we would have spent longer navigating the maze of Wats and walls, temples and spires. However. It was hot. Darting from Gallery to Gallery, in to see many Buddha before finally, lo, the Emerald Buddha. It was pretty cool. Actually made of a single piece of Jade, it sat high up and was revered by all the locals. We headed over to see the rest of the palace - a very large place!! The photos do not do it justice. Finally, we walked round the Reclining Buddha. Possibly the single, LARGEST Buddha I have ever seen, and we've seen some big 'uns! Again, the photos do not do it justice. We grabbed a taxi (God bless Air Con) and came back to the guesthouse, We book a trip to Ayutthaya and Sukhotai for the next day and then make our way to a veggie cafe, recommended by San, our driver at the same time tour guide (thank you!). It is a great place, very chilled out, with floor cushions, etc. Menu is good and portions are generous. Double yum!

The next day, we visited the Grand Palace grounds and temples and the Wat Pho temple, where beside being shocked by an incident not appropriate for public broadcast, I was absolutely taken by the beautiful reclined golden Buddha...A must see...But do watch around the corners...Thanks to San's recommendation we treated ourselves to a traditional Thai message at the temple...It was a great end to our hot and humid touristy day...I was squeezed, turned, flipped over, you name it, and it felt great...The Thai Buddhist temples, unlike the Old Spanish churches in the Philippines, are light, whimsical, densely patterned, and mostly in compounds filled with shrines and chedis...

After another hot and sleepless night on Soi 19 Petchuburi, all we wanted to do is sleep but we had a city to explore after yesterdays interesting tour of the temples by tuk tuk. We had booked Ayutthaya and Sukhotai tour the night before. The pink taxi arrived at 7am. We woke at 7.05am. Not the best start to the day. In the end we got up rather reluctantly and headed out to grab some food and off we trotted to Ayutthaya and Sukhotai.
In our fourth day in Thailand, we decided to take a long break of sleeping and just doing nothing , then we get ready for our fine dine river cruise...grabe sosyal ito =D. Mr., San told us that it will be a fun night if we try it...with amazing Thai food, live music and the fantastic view of Chao Phraya river. Cool! We are totally excited about it... Cruising along the Chao Phraya is one of the best ways to see Bangkok they say; it gives you a unique perspective of riverside life and the difference between the two sides of Bangkok, new and old. It also offers a welcome blast of air in a humid city and certainly beats being stuck in traffic! We spent a good part of the night on a riverboat sightseeing along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand. The Chao Phraya River is actually the largest river in Thailand and runs north to south starting in the center of Thailand where two other rivers meet, the Ping and Nan River, and empties into the Gulf of Thailand. Some of the largest and most densely populated cities in Thailand are situated along the Chao Phraya River, including Ayutthaya, Nonthaburi, and Bangkok.
There were many popular historical landmarks which could be seen while traveling along the Chao Phraya River including a number of temples, the Grand Palace, and the Royal Thai Navy Dockyard with their majestically light. It's a lovely night indeed!
On the way back to Bangkok, We wandered Kho San Road and other markets for our final walk as we off to Manila in the evening. We had intended to get an early dinner, as we have to set out at 6 for our flight back. Stopping at a loud, typical place for cheap food and drink, then we met up with our new found friends we had met last night at the river tour to exchange stories about our day!
Our tour in Thailand was totally a blast! Visiting temples and palaces, shop ‘til you drop, experience a range of markets from the Patpong Night Market to Chatuchak Weekend Markets, take in a traditional Thai massage, enjoy the exquisite cuisine, experience the vibrant and exotic nightlife - you’ll definitely never be bored in Bangkok!

You can also check my other photos here:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Translate Me