I have so many observations about Bangkok it’s hard to know where to begin. For starters, Bangkok is not a third-world city, like Addis Ababa. It’s not Tokyo either. About nine million people habitat the capital city on a work day, and Thai traffic is no joke. Red lights don’t just feel like they last for minutes- they literally do. But the streets are paved and clean. Power lines smother the sight line– I saw a ten-year-old boy actually walking the wires one day. Taxis are abundant and you can negotiate your price. My preferred method of transportation is tuk-tuk- motorcycles that have been modified with a covered wagon of sorts that seats three or four adventurous travelers. (I learned to negotiate the price up front.)
Shrines dot each block, and at least one was a hotel-sponsored shrine. Street vendors hock fruits, cooked meats and all other kinds of trinkets and food choices.
My brief visit to Bangkok was spread over several days, in and around business meetings in the city.
Our first stop was Wat Phra Kaew, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. I thought a scarf would provide ample coverage for my bare shoulders, but I was consigned to rent a shirt for 200 baht (or about $8) before proceeding on to the grounds.
The temple area is huge and astounding. Gold sparkles everywhere, and the carvings and statues are so intricate.
After a brief respite of coconut water straight from the coconut, we were off via tuk-tuk to Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. I was in for a total surprise – I had no idea had large this Buddha would be!
Chatuchuk Weekend Market is a sight to behold. I’ve read that if you can’t buy it in Bangkok, you can’t buy it. After visiting Chatuchuk, I believe that adage. I picked up a wooden parasol for myself.
Unfortunately Wat Arun was under reconstruction during our visit. I also briefly visited Wat Traimit in Bangkok’s Chinatown (the Chinese history in Thailand is quite fascinating), and made a stop at the Jim Thompson House. Jim Thompson is the guy who popularized Thai silk in the day, and the selection of scarves there is exquisite.
I’m not a food blogger, and my attempts to describe the scents and tastes of Bangkok will do it no justice. One of my travel companions had Thai food that was so spicy his eyes watered and he started to sweat – I was not that adventurous.
Bangkok is a socially stratified city – one where the high-rises and technology boom are measured against abject poverty.
It’s a beautifully splendored place- I can’t wait to go back and see more of the country.