On our short stay in Bangkok we managed to see but a fraction of the city, but just that small part was enough to give us a taste of what Thailand has to offer. From the hundreds of Wats or Buddhist temples, to the many markets selling everything from sunglasses to carved elephants…there is something for everyone.
Despite our efforts, we did not manage to see the Emerald Buddha (Phra Kaew Marakot) housed in the Grand Palace (always remember to dress appropriately when planning on visiting temples). This small Buddha, only 66cm in height, made of Jasper-quartz or Jade rather than Emerald holds a prominent position in Thai Buddhism. However, we continued the following day to Wat Pho (dressed more appropriately this time) to see the Reclining Buddha. This statue of Buddha, 46m long and 15m high, illustrates the passing of Buddha into Nirvana. Its gold-leaf covered body stretches out length-ways, filling the majority of the room that it is housed in. Its pearl-inlayed feet form a patterned wall on the one side of the room. The Wat Pho temple, houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, 394 to be exact. Wat Pho is also the headquarters for massage instruction, so if you had some extra cash you could go for a massage there as well, to break the days sightseeing.
A few of the 394 Buddhas in Wat Pho
The Reclining Buddha
The best way to see a lot of the sights in Bangkok is by river ferry, and its pretty cheap too. A one-way ticket will cost you 14 Baht each, provided you get the local ferry and not the tourist boat, which is 25 Baht each (and you can barely understand the guide’s English in any case). Once on the boat, you can sit and enjoy the sights from the river and hop off when you find something worth looking at.
On the Chao Phraya in Bangkok
The markets in Thailand are definitely my highlight, whether it’s the sidewalk or the night market, they are so much fun even if you don’t have money to buy a lot of things. You can just walk around for ages, bargaining and chatting to the locals. The food in the markets is also so delicious, and so cheap! You can get little satay sticks, corn on the cob, and fried chicken or even try some strange-looking Thai delicacies…if you dare. For dessert, have a few fried banana pieces, or a crispy pancake filled with melted marshmallow and orange rind! Divine!
Thai Delicacies-if you dare!
We’ve had to deal with quite the saga these past couple of days due to Marion’s bags being left in Johannesburg. The reason the bag didn’t get on the same plane as her in the first place was because her plane was delayed three times from Cape Town to Johannesburg, so eventually when she did get to Jhb, she got on the plane and her bag did not. When she arrived in Bangkok after a very long night, as we well know, we were under the impression that they would send her bag straight to our guest house in Bangkok. Not the case, apparently. So, we finally got the details of the flight that the bag was supposed to be on and because we were leaving to Chiang Mai that same day, we decided we would go and fetch the bag from the airport. What a drama!! We left with plenty of time to get there and fetch the bag, and get back to the station to catch the bus to Chiang Mai. When we got to the airport, however, there was no bag. We spent at least 2 hours being sent from pillar to post, trying to find out where on earth the bag was. Eventually, we were told that the bag was in Hong Kong and that it had missed the connecting flight to Bangkok and would not arrive until the following day. They promised to send the bag on to Chiang Mai and deliver it to our hostel. We said we’d believe it when we saw it! Now the saga was to get back to the station in time for our bus, and with 45 minutes to go, it was a tough ask. And of course, everything went wrong! First the express train left as we got there, and with the next one only coming half an hour later, we had to catch the slow train. Next we got off the lovely air-conned sky train to connect to the MRT, only to find that we had to walk 10 minutes to get to the Metro Station. And then it started raining. Of course, when it is 35 degrees and humid, a bit of rain is fantastic, but not when you’re running through it between two stations in a blind panic. Next the ticket machine went out of order, but finally we got onto the metro train and arrived at the station with 5 minutes to spare, dripping wet and sans Marion’s bag.
Despite all of the drama though, the bus ride was uneventful (besides the strange stop for dinner at the Thai cafeteria-type place at 12am), and Marion’s bag arrived as promised at the hostel while we took a nap!
Marion's Bag! Whoop!
While Bangkok was a restless animal, a city that never sleeps; Chiang Mai is a peaceful place with a laid back atmosphere. Here we have explored the streets of the old town, visited the Sunday Walking Street (best market ever), and paid our respects to the many Wats along every street. Oh, and we even jammed a little at the local Reggae club last night
Marion and Trist at Roots Rock Reggae in Chiang Mai!
Tomorrow we are visiting Baan Chang Elephant Park, thanks to a very kind donation by my parents (THANKS!!!!), and I’m sure we will have a few great stories and photos to show you after that!