RETRO TRIP BLOG: Bangkok, Jan 24 – 29, 2013

Here’s another fun trip Trina and I had that we did not write much about at the time. Fortunately, I happened to have our notes and itinerary, so I could piece it back together. At least what I remembered…

At the beginning of 2013 Trina and I made a short trip to Bangkok Thailand. This was an extremely fun place to visit. The city is enormous and extremely chaotic. Our type of place.

Day 1
We arrived at the Suvarnabhumi Airport outside of Bangkok. The airport was massive and somewhat difficult to navigate. Somehow, we managed to grab a taxi to take us into Bangkok. The trip in is pretty amazing because it took very long and you could see how sprawling Bangkok truly is.

We stayed at a small bed and breakfast called the Old Bangkok Inn in Banglamphu. It was run by a sweet little old lady who liked to make amazing breakfasts full of tropical fruits for the guests. Each day she left little gifts such as figurines and a pleasant note for Trina and I.

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After settling into our loft we went to have Pad Thai at Thip Samai down the street. Walking down the streets of Bangkok can be a little overwhelming at first, what with the traffic and the general hustle and bustle but we managed. Thip Samai was a restaurant where the food was made out on the street. So I guess it could be considered street food. Either way, the Pad Thai they served was really tasty. After such a long day we went back to the hotel to rest a bit.

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Day 2
We had a full day ahead of us. We got up early, had a great fruity breakfast and traveled to Ko Ratanakosin, where a lot of Bangkok’s most famous sites are. We started with the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kao.

We had to make sure we were properly dressed, since there were some dress codes for visiting royal grounds and Buddhist sites. It was a little unusual for me to wear a button down shirt and long pants in a tropical climate, but it wasn’t too bad. The first stop for us was the Grand Palace, the residence of the royal family. It was a sprawling complex full of large galleries, impressive architecture and lots and lots of people.

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We had to follow a predefined path. That made sense given the throngs of tourists all over the place. The next place we ended up in was the Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It was also very impressive and also full of people. We managed to find a few nice secluded spots here and there. What was particularly nice were the lily pads full of flowers.

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After a couple of hours at the palace we walked over to the National Museum, which contained a lot of Buddhist statues and artwork. It was really cool to see some of the artwork murals of epic battles.

To complete the tri-fecta of must see sights in Bangkok we went to Wat Pho, to see one of the largest reclining Buddha statues. It was gold covered and his feet had mother of pearl embedded in his soles. Truly an awe-inspiring sight.

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At this point we were pretty exhausted. We were debating just going back to the hotel, but it wasn’t even 3pm at that point. Trina pointed out that the Wat Pho Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School was nearby. So we opted for an hour long Thai massage. I never go for these sort of things, so I was a bit uncertain.  But I was pretty tired and I would have done anything at that point. It was a bit odd going into the school since it was a large room with lots of people getting massaged, but I was so glad we did it. I had a lot of tense joints that the masseuse managed to relieve. Afterwards, Trina and I felt like a million bucks. It gave us enough energy from to continue sight seeing.

We wandered over to Th Khao San road for dinner.  We ate at a place overlooking the river called Hemlock, where we enjoyed a meat filled mango dish with a mango dessert. I definitely did not get tired of the mangoes in Bangkok. They were way better than any I have had in the states.

After wandering Th Khao San road a bit, we headed back to the hotel for the rest of the evening.

Day 3
We opted for a tour offered via the Bed and Breakfast. We would be taking a bus to see the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, Ayuthaya, and a few other Wat’s along the way. We would then take a boat down the Mae Nam Chao Phraya.

Trina and I got up early, again had a great breakfast. We then got on a bus that drove us to the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace. Since this was the summer retreat of the royal family, and thus royal grounds, Trina had to wear a skirt provided at the entrance. The gardens and colorful architecture made the place feel whimsical.

 

 

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After traipsing through the gardens a bit more we got on the bus to see a few more Wat’s, one of which consisted of a large stone Buddha. We then arrived at Ayuthaya, the former capital of the Kingdom of Siam. It was the seat of the government from 1350 until it was destroyed by the Burmese armies in 1767. Trina noted that the ruins had an air of sadness about it. Even so, there were some impressive architecture still remaining. One thing the tour guides pointed out was the Buddha head wrapped in a tree’s roots, Wat Phra Mahathat.

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After touring the grounds a bit more we got on a river boat to enjoy a cruise down the Mae Nam Chao Phraya. On-board we enjoyed views of the riverside villages set up on the banks and other Wats. We even had a nice meal as we took in Wat Arun near the city center. Overall, it was a great experience.

Day 4
This day happened to be a Sunday, which coincidentally is when Chatuchak Weekend Market is open. We took the train over to Chatuchak Park. Descending from the elevated platform Trina and I could see how large the market was.

At the ground level it was just full of stalls with all sorts of clothing, dish ware, clothes, art, and even animals (we don’t think some were legal to sell). It was just one giant maze, that we happily wandered through. The only thing we could use as a reference was the clock tower in the center.

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We spent most of the day here. We bought a few t-shirts and ate at a few of the stalls. Thankfully, there was one restaurant that had some semblance of air conditioning that was working in the middle of that mob. The whole weekend market experience was impressive, though somewhat chaotic.

Day 5
On our last day in Bangkok we opted for a more low-key type of itinerary. We started with a visit to Jim Thompson’s House near Siam Square. For whatever reason we thought it would be a good idea to take one of the water taxi’s over there. It would be a somewhat hair raising experience. We got on and told the operator where we want to go, received a ticket and then clung for dear live onto the ropes. The boat sped along the very polluted canal. Trina and I made sure to keep our mouths closed during the whole ride. We actually ended up missing our stop near Jim Thompson’s house. The operator angrily let us off at a stop further down, but we had to jump from the moving taxi. We were one misjudged jump from being dipped in sewage.

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We made our way to Jim Thompson’s house along the canal. He was an American living in Bangkok, who collected artwork and lived in a pretty awesome house. It was full of Thai architecture and had a really lovely garden. I imagine anybody would be thrilled to live in a place like that, if they are okay without air conditioning.

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After touring the grounds a bit we headed over to the mega-mall MBK. There were tons of places to eat and shop. We explored that for while in climate controlled bliss before heading back to the hotel for a quick shower and then packing.

All-in-all Bangkok was a really fun trip!

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