Beautiful Bangkok, a city run by tuk tuk power, street vendors, and centuries old golden buddhas.
Sky high commerce and crumbling poverty jostle for street space while long tail boats cruise up and down the Chao Phraya river.
Little kids are canal swimming and tourists are Instagram posing and food vendors slinging moo ping pork skewers, all under resplendent portraits of King Rama X of Thailand.
Our first day in Bangkok, sparkling fresh with jet lag, we explored the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew—The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Bangkok was our first leg on a three week tour of the country.
The Grand Palace is tourist central (us included) due to its religious, historical, and political importance to Thailand since its construction in 1782. Also, it’s really beautiful. Glittering mosaics, gilded gold, and opulent murals adorn every building. The Emerald Buddha (actually made of jade) is only 26 inches tall and has seasonal outfits of gold for summer, rain, and cool.
How tourists dress is important to Thai people, especially when visiting revered religious sites. It’s hot in Thailand, but we took care to wear modest clothing at all times: think pants or skirts to knees and no tank tops.
The November was muggy and in the mid-to-high 90s. The action of the city streets is enervating, no matter how much iced tea + condensed milk you drink. My wife is an expert lodging-finder. Usually when we travel for long periods we arrange home exchanges, but this trip we stayed in hotels. Our Bangkok hotel was a dream.
Chann Bangkok Noi, was accessible only by foot or boat. A taxi carried us as far as it could into a dense, riverside neighborhood where hotel staff met us at a foot bridge to guide us in. We walked several blocks down a raised pathway that peered into backyards and jungly terrain. We hooked a sharp left through a break in the corrugated metal fencing and down a sidewalk (marshy swampland and homes on stilts on either side) until suddenly coming upon the Chann Bangkok Noi sign.
Chann Bangkok Noi provided true respite from the chaos of Bangkok’s streets. After our Grand Palace adventure, we slept the merciful sleep of the jet lagged to prepare us for our walking cultural tour the next day led by Bangkok Vanguards.
My wife and I love walking tours to experience the heartbeat of a city and learn more from locals about local life. I’ll tell you all about the cultural tour here…it was really fabulous and I took lots of pretty pictures, so check it out.