Mixed feelings here…the best thing about Thailand, apart from the beautiful nature and temples, are its people – sweet, smiley, humble people. I felt in love with them the minute I arrived in Bangkok (actually the minute I took the flight with Thai Airways from Sin to Bkk). We had a great time and we’ve done lots of things. However my expectations were a bit high and what we’ve seen was a bit different. Lesson learnt: have no expectations!!!
Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation that has never been colonized and people are very proud of this. As it is a major tourist destination, I thought most of the people (at least those working in hotels, restaurants and taxis) would speak English but it wasn’t really the case. Well, having said that, I will just add the best English speakers can be found in Pat-pong, which is the area of bars and clubs (where you can see the well-known ladyboys) but I wouldn’t go there again, even if someone would pay me…
From the airport we took a taxi (really cheap) to our hotel (Novotel Millenium): great location, excellent hotel, the best choice. We had all this malls nearby where you could have a Thai massage for £3/h, nice food and cheap things to buy.
The temperature? 39-40 ͦC, however it was quite bearable, compared to the one I had to “endure” in Dubai. That is because the humidity level was low, so…lucky me I guess.
Going by boat on the Chao Phraya River it’s a must; you get a slice of real life of Bangkok as you are travelling among Thai residents doing their daily commute. We have used it quite a lot as it turned out to be the fastest way to get from one place to the other, plus it was at out hotel doorstep. This is such a fun and cheap way to go to the downtown area as well as move up to the sights of the King’s Palace and Wats Pho and Arun, that I’d recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want to get ripped off by taxi drivers.
We went by boat along the channels in the old town and we were impressed to see what houses they’re living in… Then we’ve seen lots of temples but the most beautiful ones are:
Named after Aruna, the Indian God of Dawn, the Wat Arun is considered one of the most well-known of Thailand’s many landmarks. The main feature of Wat Arun is its central prang (Khmer-style tower) which are encrusted with colourful porcelain.
The prangs are decorated by seashells and bits of porcelain which had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China.
Wat Pho is named after a monastery in India where Buddha is believed to have lived. Adjacent to the building housing the Reclining Buddha is a small raised garden, the centrepiece being a bodhi tree which is propagated from the original tree in India where Buddha sat while awaiting enlightenment. Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest wats in Bangkok (with an area of 50 rai, 80,000 square metres), and is home to more than one thousand Buddha images, as well as one of the largest single Buddha images of 160 ft length. The image of reclining Buddha is 15 m high and 43 m long with his right arm supporting the head with tight curls on two box-pillows of blue, richly encrusted with glass mosaics.
When Bangkok became the capital, King Rama I renovated the temple and gave it its present name. During the reign of King Rama IV, construction began of a small chedi on the hill. It was completed early in the reign of his son, King Rama V (1853–1910). A relic of the Buddha was brought from India and placed in the chedi. The surrounding concrete walls were added in the 1940s to stop the hill from eroding. The modern Wat Saket was built in the early 20th century of Carrara marble…