My trip to Asia last summer included a brief trip down to Bangkok, Thailand, for a little bit of business and tourism. It was my first time in the country, and I was fortunate to be visiting the United Nations offices there. That also afforded me my first lesson about Bangkok taxi cabs during the summer: lots of the drivers are in town for a short period of time because they’re not tending to their fields, they come from other places across the country, and they don’t necessarily know where it is you want to go. The traffic is also horrendous at times. Once I understood all of that, it was cool. Speaking of cool, here’s what a can of Coke looks like over there. This was served on Thai Airways, which I can certainly recommend for your air travel needs.
Instead of staying in a hotel, I found an apartment in the Sena Nikhom area of the city. Here are a couple of views from my building’s rooftop.
I wasn’t in the city terribly long, so my travel companions and I had just a little bit of time to hit up some of the major tourist spots. One of them was the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, or Wat Pho. The Buddha statue is quite long, as the photo’s perspective suggests. There’s a fee to get in, but my attitude continues to be “I’ll drop some cash to see a cultural landmark.”
The following photos are pictures from the temple’s grounds. If you visit Bangkok during the summer, wear some light clothing and try to carry around as much water as you can stand. It gets oppressively hot, and you will sweat a lot.
As you enter the temple grounds, you’ll notice signage that warns you to protect your valuables because the large crowds are great cover for pickpockets. Neither I nor my travel companions had a bad experience on this particular day.
We were also able to swing by the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaeo, and that’s the photo you see below. To get into the temple, visitors cannot be wearing shorts or skirts. But if you are wearing that (see my sweltering humidity comment above), not to worry! You can rent pull-up pants or long skirts outside the temple walls. It’s not very expensive, and even if the renters don’t give you your deposit money back, you won’t lose much. We got our deposit money back with no problem.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to pay a visit to the Buddhist temple Wat Arun. However, one of us snapped the photo of it below while we were cruising the Chao Phraya River. I can recommend a river cruise, and there are several from which to choose. It’s a fun way to travel to different points across the city.
On our last full day in Bangkok, my sister, friend and I went to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. This place is huge. Really huge. If you’re wanting to find all kinds of souvenir possibilities before you leave town, swing into this sub-city of a market. The alleyways are packed with small vendor stalls, and you can find plenty of food here, too. I didn’t buy a souvenir for myself, but my mother and grandmother are now sporting “special” purses that have a nice story to accompany them. You can see one of the many clothes vendors below.
I didn’t even scratch the surface with Bangkok, and I hope to go back to do much more exploring on a future trip to southeast Asia. There’s just so much cool stuff to do there. But I’ll leave you with a few recommendations from a first-timer.
The Skytrain is an easy way to get around. It was clean and air-conditioned.
The Bangkok National Museum is worth your time. While I was visiting, a group of soldiers marched in (literally) and then began walking through the exhibits. I presumed it was part of their military experience to learn some of their country’s history.
Take a motorized tuk tuk ride. That was big time fun.
The fine folks at the United Nations recommended we have dinner one night at The Verandah at Mandarin Oriental. The hotel is next to the river, so the scene was immediately captivating. The food was terrific, and as the sun set, the temperature cooled, the river lit up with the city’s lights, and the experience became one of the highlights of our trip. The hotel’s doormen will even call a cab for you when you’re ready to return home.