Having visited Bangkok only five months ago on our way back from Myanmar, it was already a known entity. Our trip from Koh Chang to Bangkok was interesting and included several hours of discomfort for Sam squished up in the back corner of a minivan…but these things happen.
On our last trip to Bangkok we stayed at a great hostel managed by a lovely lady Joy, and we managed to stay for five nights with her this time. It was again a great place to stay being in the middle of a real Thai suburb (I.e. no other foreigners except those staying at the one hostel).
Our first night was Christmas day which we celebrated with a nice meal at Bamboo, a restaurant five minutes from our hostel. Eating Thai curries, spring rolls and drinking the local beer while watch the bustle of the city go past was the best way to spend Christmas! No presents between us this year as we have an agreement that our gift is this trip. We managed to call most of the family on Christmas Eve which was really nice.
Our first full day in Bangkok was spent visiting the Grand Palace. Each building and structure was designed with such intricate detail that it was just amazing. To get there we traveled by boat from the central pier which is all part of the fun. After the palace we wandered through a nearby park and found a quiet spot for a refreshing drink, followed by a peek around the infamous Khaosan Road area.
The next morning we slept in and decided we needed some chill time at the park, so we went to a large one to explore. On arriving we headed for the waters edge and followed the walkway. Within a few minutes two girls walking towards us had an OMG! moment. No, it wasn’t their reaction to us. They had just spotted a rather large water monitor lizard about five meters from us. This began a hunt which continued for several hours. We found over a dozen of the over-one-metre-long beasties around the lake; swimming, sunbathing and eating turtles. Yes, we have hundreds of photos and a few videos which we will post when we encounter a computer that has an internet connection that is halfway decent.
We decided to do the tourist thing and hire a paddle boat for half an hour. They are not very comfortable and definitely not designed for our long legs. Still you just gotta do these things.
Day three was planned out but as things happen often with us we realised as we ventured onto the ferry that the camera had not charged overnight as we told it to (too many different power cords). So time to change our plans. We started with an early visit to the flower market, not quite what we expected but still interesting. Then we wandered through several kilometres of fascinating bustling side streets to the giant swing. I didn’t see any swing but that is what it’s called. It was used for religious ceremonies where the swingee had to swing and try to grab items from adjacent pillars. This was discontinued in the 1930s after several fatal falls from the giddying 20 metre drop. Next to the swing was a wat (temple). We paid 40 baht ($1:60nzd) for both of us and wandered into this amazing temple. A service was being held as we entered. We felt strange interfering so quickly viewed the main temple before moving to the surrounding areas to escape the heat of the day. The complex was large and relatively empty so it gave us time to explore. On exiting we found a park that in its previous life had been a prison. One wall still remained giving the place a rustic look that would look at home in House and Garden. As we watched the fish we decided to be horrid and have McDonald’s for lunch….sometimes its just easier, and guarantees airconditioning. The funny thing is our stomachs have shrunk since we were sick (at least the insides).
That evening we headed to Asiatique, an upmarket shopping/eating/drinking spot on the river banks, where we wiled away the evening window shopping, people watching and filling our bellies.
The next day, with camera fully charged, we went to Wat Arun. After heading up and across the river and after a little confusion as to how to enter the temple, we were in. Wow, what a truly amazing temple. It sits near the banks of the river and looks to be made of old pieces of broken pottery and concrete. You can climb hand over hand up the steep steps located on all four sides. There are two levels to see the 360 degree view from. It is truly amazing.
On our return trip we were debating getting a river cruise but decided we had seen more than enough. We jumped on the next available boat back to central pier. After a minute we thought it was strange how few people were onboard the boat and how there was a running commentary. It turned out that we were on a tour boat after all and it only cost 40 baht per person. A small price to pay.
Bangkok is an amazing city. It is vibrant, full of life and history and we are sure we will pass through her doors again soon.