Where do we begin?!
It feels like we have been in Bangkok for weeks. We have squeezed so much into just 2 days. As we mentioned in our last post, we had decided to have an early start to do some sight seeing and we did just that.
We realised where we needed to be was at the other side of town and decided to get there by train. We had a short walk to the BTS / Sky Train. As somebody who is an anxiety / panic disorder sufferer, crowded places aren’t my thing and although we were packed in like sardines, it was efficient, easy and really cheap!
We got off at the stop closest to where we needed to be and visited the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre. It was a cool building with some interesting exhibits.
We then realised that we were close to Jim Thompson’s House, so we popped in and it was amazing. We learned a lot about Thai history and the history of Jim Thompson house. This jungly compound is the former home of the eponymous American silk entrepreneur and art collector. in 1967 Thompson suddenly disappeared whilst going out for an afternoon stroll in Malaysia.
Whilst on our tour of the house we learnt a lot about Thai culture. We learnt about spirit houses; they are built to protect houses, however they cannot be built within the shadow of the house they are protecting, as this is bad luck. People bring offerings of flowers or food to the spirit house every morning so that the spirits grant them good luck and good fortune.
We also learnt that the thresholds in Thai doorways are higher to stop evil spirits entering. Thais believe that spirits travel in straight lines. If you sit or stand on the raised threshold, it brings bad luck. When walking through Thai doorways, make sure you step over the high threshold and not on it.
We were then involved in a Tuk Tuk scam. It turns out there is an elaborate scam that a lot of tourists are unaware of in Bangkok. The Tuk Tuk driver asked where we were going and said he would take us there. We obliged and got in the Tuk Tuk, unaware of the scam.We were supposed to go to Chinatown but the driver told us it didn’t open for another hour and he would drive us around for an hour until it opened and show us some other sites. We were then taken to an unknown area where the driver stopped. He told us that we needed to go into various shops so that he could get free gasoline for his Tuk Tuk. We had to go to each shop for 10-15 minutes and then when we were in the shop we were instantly hassled and they tried to sell us tailored suits, fake jewellery and fake gems. The Tuk Tuk driver gets rewarded for taking tourists there and it is all part of the scam It showed us the dark side of Bangkok. I was getting very suspicious. Rach had read about the scam in the Thailand Lonely Planet book and soon realised this was the scam.
We then confronted the driver and, eventually he took us to Chinatown for 200 B. This scam, or similar scams happen all over Bangkok. A similar thing happened in Chinatown, where a guy dressed as security, said that chinatown was closed. If any stranger approaches you, being very helpful, with very good English, tells you that certain places are closed until certain times and that he can offer you a deal to see other sites that seems too good to be true. It probably is. Even if they speak very good English and have a cap on that says security, ignore them and say that you are not interested. For any transportation across Bangkok, we would recommend using official taxi companies such as Uber and also recommend using public transport.
We then visited Wat Traimit. It has a 3 meter tall, 5.5 tonne, solid gold, Buddha image, which is the biggest solid gold Buddha image in the world. It was beautiful.
We got some food in Chinatown, where I found the perfect Pad Thai! It satisfied all of my taste buds. After our experience with Tuk Tuks , we decided to use the restaurant’s WiFi and get an Uber to Wat Pho.
If the Tuk Tuk experience was the Dark Side of Bangkok, then What Pho was part of the Light Side. It is stunning. Everywhere we looked, we could just see beauty. The architecture was amazing. What Pho is a Buddha temple complex, so you can imagine we were grateful of our little lesson about the thresholds atthe Jim Thompson House, otherwise knowing us, we would have ended up tripping over them or sitting on them!
There is no fewer than 400 guilded Buddha images at Wat Pho. The architecture on the Temples and surrounding buildings is mind blowing. The famous reclining Buddha resides here, which is gilded gold with mother of pearl inlay on it’s feet. The detail everywhere is exquisite.
We used the free WiFi at Wat Pho and got an Uber back to the apartment. We ended up in one of Bangkok’s famous traffic jams and it took us over an hour to get back to the apartment, however we were pleasantly surprised that the fare was only £6 (300B).
We then went out for some food and went to a recommended restaurant called Sit and Wonder. I played it safe and really enjoyed my meal, Rach was a bit more adventurous (her soup smelt like air freshener) and didn’t enjoy her meal as much. She opted for street food on the way back to the apartment; it was 15x cheaper and 15x tastier than what she had just eaten at the restaurant. Thai street food is amazing!
Now on to today!
The hottest day we have experienced so far; 37°C!! We got an Uber straight to Wat Phra Kaew and The Grand Palace. The Uber had to drop us off around the corner from the complex as vehicles aren’t allowed past a certain point. I was then approached by a ‘security guard’ who said I wouldn’t be able to get into the temple as I was wearing shorts and I needed to purchase some long pants.
He then advised that the Grand Palace was closed and wouldn’t reopen until 2pm, he then suggested alternative places for us to visit, including a market for some pants. He pulled out a map, recommended Wat Pho and Wat Arun, stated the costs of each and how easy they were to get to from where we were. He then said that we could have a Tuk Tuk for the next hour to take us for food and other temples and we would be back for the Grand Palace reopening. We didn’t even have time to refuse and were basically pushed into a Tuk Tuk. We travelled a few meters down the road and insisted that we wanted to be out, the Tuk Tuk driver snatched the map from us and we got out the Tuk Tuk. We then walked towards the Grand Palace and surprise surprise, it wasn’t closed; all of a sudden we saw flocks of people, going in and out of the complex.
Wat Phra Kaew and The Grand Palace come as a pair, so you get a dual ticket to see both for 500B per person. The ‘Security Guard’ was right about the long pants, so I purchased some cool hippy elephant pants from a stall outside the complex.
Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is a vast fairytale compound. It was an amazing sight to see. The grounds were consecrated in 1782, and is today Bangkok’s biggest tourist attraction and a pilgrimage destination for devour Buddhists and nationalists. There are more than 100 buildings representing over 200 years of royal history and architecture. We were both blown away by the architecture and the beauty of the buildings. It is something we will both remember for a long time.
We then went on a hunt for food. We were stopped by a older man on a bicycle who could tell we were a bit lost as we didn’t know where to eat! He was very approachable but we were instantly hesitant as we didn’t want to fall for another scam; turns out he was just a good samaritan and we had some really tasty noodles from a street food vendor.
We then found a trendy bar where I had the best, most refreshing, tastiest smoothie I have ever had. Rach had a coffee (in this heat?!!) and we chilled for 10 minutes then got an Uber back to the apartment. Another hour, another horrible traffic jam and another reasonable £6 later and we were back at the apartment.
We decided to pay the rooftop pool a visit, and we were not disappointed. The sun was just setting as we got up and we made the most of it by running back to the apartment and getting our tripod, mobile phones, GoPro and cameras to get as many photos as possible. It was absolutely breathtaking.
We had more street food for tea, consisting of BBQ pork, normal chicken, fried chicken, rice, spring rolls, noodles, and pork skewers, with loads of different sauces (BBQ, soy and garlic, sweet chilli) all bursting with flavour, it cost £4.30 for the full lot, and we ate like kings! What a way to spend a final night in Bangkok.
We have definitely brought too many clothes, we are already starting to leave stuff behind to make it easier to transport everything! Now we are all packed up and ready for our trip to Ayuthaya tomorrow. No rest for the wicked!
Craig and Rach x