So after our very brief visit to Macau, we decided to spend a decent 10 days in Bangkok, Thailand.
And it was probably the perfect choice for us.
We got to go out and see all of the major tourist spots in this time, while also having enough of it to spend a few days at the apartment just lazing around under the air conditioning unit and trying as many weird and wonderful items from the little food market downstairs as we possibly could.
And Bangkok.. is definately my favourite Asian destination so far.
The temples here were absolutely amazing. There were some beautiful markets. There were lots of delicious fresh fruit smoothies about. The food was super cheap, and yet still legitimately nice. The little Tuk Tuks were adorable – they never grew old on me. And, our apartment, was awesome.
So, here’s how we spent out time in Bangkok:
We arrived into Thailand some time around midnight on the night of the 26th/morning of the 27th of June. And after wasting a good 40 minutes or so filling out visa application slips in the arrivals lounge, we realised that we were legally able to enter Thailand for up to 30 days without one… so we entered the county problem free. And our first stop was airport accommodation so that we could attempt to get some sleep before our first day in this new country really began.
And man…we were pretty damn happy with our room at the airport hotel.
For some $70NZpp (our most expensive accommodation on this trip by far, but still not at all horrendous by Western standards) we got a huge room with a balcony, an office space, a small living area, a minibar (which we were well behaved enough not to touch) and a wonderful big bed with the softest pillows and thickest mattress that I can ever remember sleeping on.
And even our bathroom was amazing. It had both a tub and a shower, 2 sinks, bathrobes, slippers, and all kinds of complimentary goodies like bath salts, body lotions, shampoo, conditioner and soap..
After over a month of backpacking.. it was pure luxury. And it set our expectations high for what money would buy in Thailand.
So we didn’t actually end up getting to sleep until a few hours later, after we’d explored every cranny of our new room and our excitement had worn off a little..
And when we did wake up again.. it was around 1pm.. So day one was set to be a lazy one from the get go.
We helped ourselves to a curry-based buffet for lunch (which included our first authentic Thai green curry.. It was delicious) and then jumped into a taxi to find the apartment we were staying for the next 9 days in Bangkok.
And when we did get there… this apartment was no disappointment either… We had our own, private apartment on the 27th floor, in a new complex just outside of Bangkok city.
We had a balcony, kitchen, bathroom, living room and separate bedroom – all new and clean and beautifully decorated – for a mere $15NZpp a night!
And it was nice to be able to have somewhat of a ‘home’ environment for a few days.. One where we could safely keep a few groceries, and where we could eat cereal for breakfast at our own little table, instead of having to go out and have hot noodles every morning.
So we made ourselves right at home and settled in for the rest of day.
On day two I suppose we felt a little pressured to make up for some lost time.. So we set out to do some proper sight seeing.
We somehow managed to figure out how to catch a bus into the city, which took something like 1 hour, and involved some pretty sweaty conditions..
Our eventual destination was a crowded market space on the edge of a canal that had lots of clothing and some fresh fruit for sale. There were Tuk Tuks lining the streets and the stagnant water of the canal could be smelt from several metres off.. It was, an authentic experience.
But with few shopping interests between us we decided to hop in a Tuk Tuk (which generally costs about 100 baht per journey – the equivalent of just less than $5NZ) and go and see some temples.
The first stop was Wat Suthat – The temple of the giant swing.
It was gorgeous.
And it was nice to see a temple of such a different design to those we saw in Taiwan.. Because by this time we had seen so many Taiwanese temples, that they were all beginning to blur into one.. Which is not to say that the temples in Taiwan are any less beautiful than those of Thailand… But rather, we had just seen enough to satisfy ourselves..
Any way, the difference was refreshing, and we got to look at the Thai designs with renewed appreciation.
Buddha is the focus of the temples here in Thailand, and huge golden Buddha statues are usually found housed in the main buildings of a temple complex.
And these buildings, are absolutely beautiful, both inside and out.
The exterior walls and doorways will be painted in metallic colours and covered in shiny glass and mirrors that reflect the sunlight. Their roofs will be tiled with bright, glossy plates that look just like a dragons scales. Gothic spikes and adornments will peak up from the corners of the rooftops and often bells and chimes will hang from the eaves.
And the interiors will feature walls painted in busy scenes of worship, farming and war.
In other words, these temples are truly amazing.
And at Wat Suthat we were fortunate to catch a monk giving a sermon in the main temple when we arrived. He sat on a raised stool above his listeners (who sat on the floor) with crossed legs, in his orange gown, and spoke in a joyful tone, laughing at himself along the way. Although we could understand nothing of what he said, it was clear that he was very much at ease and he seemed to be enjoying himself.
After a while his speech ended and it was time for the mass to give the offerings they had bought with them. The whole room seemed to rush forward to bestow money and food upon the monk, bowing and murmuring thanks all the while..
It is believed that by making offerings to Buddha a person will gain good favour for themselves and for their family. And the more money an individual gives, the greater the favour.
We quietly exited only after the commotion had settled down, and made our way to a nearby shrine temple to further our exploration.
This was just a series of smaller temples with statues of various Buddha or Bodhisattva sitting inside. They were places where people could go to pray and make private offerings.
Then we dragged our feet through the hot streets for a while more, before happening upon another temple and monument site. This place had been built by a king, in honour of his granddaughter. It was one of many temples in Bangkok city that isn’t listed in the tourist books. And for this reason I cannot remember it’s name..
But it was another display of Thailand’s beautiful architectural abilities none the less.
And after that we wandered around for a little longer in the heat, before giving up on activity altogether and jumping in another Tuk Tuk, that was to take us to the notorious Khao San Road (K Road for short) where we would conclude our evening.
K Road, is the road in Bangkok which provides its tourist audience with everything they are told to expect when coming to Thailand.
The street is lined with market stalls selling baggy, brightly patterned pants, bikinis, fluorescent paintings, pad thai noodles, fake I.D cards, woven bracelets, massages, buckets of alcohol (literally buckets. like the small, colourful buckets children take to the beach to build sandcastles with), hair dreading services, tattoos and cigarettes and cigars.. There is bar after bar after bar. And every shop competitively advertises the strength of their drinks and their extremely cheap prices in an attempt to lure in a greater share of the constant flow of backpackers.
And these backpackers, who come from all over the world for this experience, can stay in the guesthouses above the street, or down the small side alleys for as little as $5 or $10 a night..
At all hours of the day (and we aren’t even travelling in peak season!) There is a crowd of people wandering up and down K Road – shopping, bathing, and drinking.
The atmosphere reeks of the mischief and excitement that comes as night falls.
And when night does fall.. the road is closed off completely to traffic. The stalls and bars move out into the street. Music is blasted from every angle. The revelers rise from their slumbers. The drinking really begins.
So we had a couple of ‘buckets’, sat in a few bars, ate some pad thai for dinner.. soaked in the atmosphere…marveled at the audience present.. and eventually caught a late night taxi back to our apartment, satisfied with a full day out..