First 3 days in Bangkok....
We got an overnight train from Chiang Mai, which was pretty uneventful and late of course. I don’t understand why, but Thai trains never run on time, all other transport does, just their trains they can’t seem to manage! We went straight to the hotel and spent the first day sorting out our Chinese visa, which we managed successfully in the end (after we wasted a taxi journey across the city to the Chinese embassy, only to find that it was closed!). Anyway, we ended up paying a bit more and getting a travel agent to get it done in 2 days, and it came through last night – so we both officially have the right to enter China! The only issue is we could only get a single entry visa, so we will have to reapply for another one when we re-enter china from Hong Kong! Complicated, but its all coming together! We also managed to sort out our Cambodian visa online!
The second day we spent looking around the old sights of Bangkok! We started by going to Golden Mount, which is a mountain of earth now covered in white concrete and is a shrine to Buddha. The pile of earth was originally all of the excavated earth from the various Khlongs (canals) which cover Bangkok. The king at the time couldn’t decide what to do with all the soil, so he piled it up to make a fake mountain, but then realised he didn’t have enough so the next king covered it in plaster and made it into a place of worship! Clever thinking! We climbed that in the morning, but the city was quite hazy so the views were not as good as they could have been!
From there we walked down the main boulevard in Bangkok down to the Democracy monument, where we nearly died trying to cross the 7 lanes of traffic! It’s a funny looking monument in the middle of the roundabout; its Art Deco meets Star Wars! Either way it was ace to stand in the middle and watch all the traffic sailing past. Their roads look so colorful because all of the government taxis are all bright pink, blue, yellow, purple or green! From there we got one of the many brightly coloured taxis, which are cheaper than tuk tuks, to the Royal Palace. The king no longer lives in the palace, he moved down the road to some 5 star accommodations, but the palace remains open to the public. It cost us 7 quid each to go in, which is quite steep for Asia, but it was worth every Baht. I can’t even describe how amazing it was; even the camera struggled to capture it. It’s basically a smallish complex of buildings, all of which are amazingly decorated with gold and multicolored mosaic mirrors. It was breathtaking. Inside the complex is the building which houses the famous ‘Emerald Buddha’, which is like the ultimate thing for Buddhists. It has a long bloody history and has been in various hands, but now lives in Bangkok and is visited by thousands of people every year. It’s only small though 66cm (2ft), and sits high on a plinth so you can hardly see it at all. No photos are allowed, so Chris had to take a sneaky one from the door!
We left the old section of the Palace and walked around into the new part, which was an interesting mix of French and Thai-style architecture. Really odd, the buildings were pastel coloured, with Thai style roofs on them, with some fantastic gardens outside the main doors as well! After that we left the Royal Palace complex and walked a little bit further down the road to Wat Pho (po), which was not only another intricately designed wat (temple), but also housed the largest image of Buddha in Thailand. He was 15 metres high and 46 metres long!!! It was amazing; we want to know where the largest one in the world is now!
After that we got a boat down the river to Wat Arun, which is another Wat, but a different style to the others. We didn’t realise but you can climb Wat Arun so you get a fantastic view of Bangkok. Little did we know the steps going up were actually the steepest ever built, so much so that I got slightly scared on the way down and we had to go down backwards! Luckily there was a handrail, but I have never been more terrified in my life! Then we got the boat back across the river and then changed and got another one all the way back up to where we were staying. We went back to the hotel to cool off for a bit before we went out in the evening on another boat back down the river to Chinatown! Unfortunately as it was the third Wednesday of the month (clearly something to celebrate in china), it meant that a lot of the shops were closed. We walked around for a bit and had the obligatory bowl of noodles for dinner followed by horse chestnuts (1 pound for 0.5kg!). We headed back after that deciding that we will go back another night when the markets are all back on! We are going back tonight infact so watch this space!
Yesterday we spent the day exploring the new shiny side of Bangkok. We got a boat all the way down the river, where we changed and got the sky train across downtown Bangkok. As its still in its infancy, it still has some teething problems, but the Sky train was pretty amazing. It cost us 60p to travel across the new part of the city you get amazing views and equally amazing air con for that as well! We got off when we arrived in the shopping district and ended up strolling into one of their many many shopping malls. Boy do they put ours to shame; all the major international designers were there – Versace, Gucci, Prada, and Dior. Chris and I walked around for a bit soaking up the air con and staring at all the pretty things for sale. In true British style we couldn’t leave without buying something, so we had an ice cream sundae each! Haha!
After that we got another taxi to the tallest tower in Bangkok, Baiyoke Tower II, which you can climb to the 77th floor and get an amazing view of the city. We thought the 4 pound entry was a bit steep (haha), but we forked out regardless as the views were supposed to be amazing. We managed to get there when the sky was clear as well so we got amazing views over modern Bangkok, it’s a blend of old and new, but they seem to have done it well so far. People say that in 10 years time it will be similar to Tokyo in style, we can see that, it looks very modern already! We stayed up there for a while and discovered that our ticket allowed us one free drink each as well, so we got another lift to the 84th floor and thought we were just going to get a bottle of water or a coke, but no! They said we could have anything on the menu, so we went the whole hog and ordered cocktails!haha!
After that we went shopping only quickly as we needed swimwear as we are going to spend the next few days on a beach. Once we got that sorted, we got the sky train followed by a boat all the way up river back to Banglamphu – the district tourists stay in. The heavens opened on the way back so we ended up buying an emergency umbrella and sheltering for a while! The weather is quite tropical here, we had amazing views in the afternoon from Baiyoke Tower, and then we ended up swimming back to the hotel only a few hours later! We had dinner on Kao San road – bowl of noodles for 80p, followed by a Starbucks for pudding! Bangkok is ace, we both really enjoy it! It’s such a shame that people only come here to get drunk, there is so much to see in this one city, 5 days is not enough!
Tomorrow we plan to go to Ayutthaya, which is an ancient city outside of Bangkok! Hope you are all well, sorry this one is so long – theres a lot to cover in this city!
Missing you all lots,
Lots of Love
Chris and Alex xxx