Keith and I took a bus from Khao Yai National Park to Bangkok on Christmas afternoon.
Bangkok lived up to its reputation, upon stepping off the bus we barely avoided landing in the throes of several scam artists. They pestered us with their rip-off schemes, and we almost fell for one cab driver. We immediately felt grateful for choosing to live in Chiang Mai instead of Bangkok. The feeling of being taken advantage of gets old quick.
We arrived in Bangkok on Christmas night with less time than we had originally hoped for, so we got a simple Christmas dinner of french fries and pizza. Also, coming off of several days of traveling we were feeling quite poor and not able to afford one of the expensive Christmas buffets that were being offered in Bangkok . We both were able to chat with our families, whom we were missing the most at this time of year.
Luckily, we had two of our favorite people meeting us in Bangkok on December 26th, my cousin Johanna and her husband Austin. We were so very fortunate that they were able to come visit and travel with us for two weeks over the holidays.
We decided that the four of us would do a two night, one day whirlwind trip of Bangkok. Johanna and Austin were troopers and strolled around Bangkok all day and well into the night the day after their long flight from America.
At breakfast together the four of us planned our attack for Bangkok.
Boat trip ride on the Bangkok river, Wat Arun, Reclining and Emerald Buddha, the Grand Palace, beers (and maybe scorpions?) at Kho San Road, perusing the shopping scene at a Thai mall, and Thai dinner and drinks.
We did it all! By dinner time at 8:30 we were almost falling asleep at our table.
About our day
The boat ride
We started out the day by hiring a private boat tour around the canals of Bangkok. Keith and I were able to put our Thai to use by bargaining down the tourist price to a more reasonable one. We spent about 2 hours in the boat, and we saw some fascinating stuff. I think one thing we all noticed was the Thai lack of zoning laws–there would be completely dilapidated shacks next-door to super fancy condos. Another observation we made was about the garbage everywhere, you did NOT want to be splashed by this river water. Another highlight of our boat trip was seeing the temples and buildings from the river. Last, but definitely not least were the Komodo Dragons (anyways we think that’s what they were–check out the pictures to confirm.) They were disgusting 4-6 foot long creatures sunning themselves and swimming, floating through the river water. The boat driver dropped us off at our next destination, Wat Arun.
Wat Arun or in English “Temple of Dawn” was an impressive sight! What I liked about it was the intricate designs on the outside of the building, they were beautiful. Although, if you are afraid of heights seeing the temple from the bottom might be enough. We walked up to the top, up the very steep steps, and when we got there the view was very rewarding. We could see how the city sprawls in every direction and could point out certain buildings we knew of. From Wat Arun we took a ferry across the river to the Grand Palace Area.
We went first to the temples that house the reclining Buddha and the emerald Buddha. We spent time wandering around the temple grounds and checking out the beautiful surroundings. Our overall impressions of the Buddhas was that the reclining Buddha was much bigger than we expected and the emerald Buddha was much smaller than we anticipated. The building the reclining Buddha was in, was barely big enough for it to fit. The grand palace was a massive structure that we maybe could have spent longer in, although with the early closing hours we breezed through the complex fairly quickly.
Kho San Road
The 4 of us squeezed in a tuk-tuk and squealed down the Bangkok roads toward Kho San road. Kho San is known as the Backpacker center of the universe and was made famous through the movie The Beach. In the movie it is proclaimed that all roads lead to/from Kho San road. We enjoyed large Leo beers and people watched. We were offered many goods table side from people selling on the streets. Some of the popular items were electric shavers, scorpions (when in Rome did not apply here,) and bracelets with crude sayings on them.
Next we headed to MBK mall, it took us some time to get a taxi that would use their meter, but once we did we were on our way. MBK is one of the many shopping centers in Bangkok, and one that Keith and I visited last time we were in Bangkok. From what we know it is one of the more local malls, and has some of the better deals. Shopping malls are an experience in and of themselves in Bangkok. The tiny overcrowded stalls selling strange things is definitely a learning experience. I ended up buying a fake Armani watch after using a watch with a cracked screen for the last few months. I bargained the price down to 400 baht (about $13) and even got a one year warrantee on the watch (haha.)
After a claustrophobic sky train ride to our hotel stop, we decided to look for a dinner spot. We had not strolled far when we spotted a restaurant that Johanna’s friend from home actually recommended. We knew it must be fate because the chances of finding a specific restaurant by happen stance in a city like Bangkok are virtually impossible. The restaurant was called Lemongrass and it was such amazingly flavorful Thai food.
We had a 6am flight the next morning to Koh Samui, we were sad to miss out on Bangkok nightlife on this trip, but felt satisfied with the huge amount of things we packed into one day.