18.04.2012 - 20.04.2012 40 °C
This is what the lonely planet says about Bangkok,
Because Bangkok is a revolving door for travel in the region, you’ll be confused and challenged when you first arrive, relieved and pampered when you return, and slightly sentimental when you depart for the last time
Being our first visit, it was definitely bizarre, but after leaving, we can see what they mean.
Two things we noticed immediately at the airport. The massive amount of western tourists (that’s what 3 weeks in China does to you I guess) and the heat, oh the heat! Guaranteed to be dripping with sweat in 1 minute flat! We had been looking forward to getting to Bangkok as Jeff was meeting up with us again for some more travel fun. It’s now the fourth time that we have met up with Jeff on the holiday, we can always rely on him to be keen for another adventure and it means that we don’t go crazy from spending every day just as the two of us.
Our flights arrived within 5 minutes of each other, so by the time we collected our bags the three musketeers were ready for whatever Bangkok had to throw at us. The airport taxi took us into the city and our nicely air conditioned hostel. At this time of the year, Bangkok is a sweltering hotpot so the aircon room paid for itself immediately. One thing we only realised after booking the hostel is that its located right by the red light streets where all the go-go bars and ping pong shows are. We went for a walk to get some dinner (which was amazing – Thai food has to be one of the best dishes the world over!) and had a few touts offering entry to some of the places.
With a couple of days to see some of the sights of Bangkok we decided to get our train down to Ko Tao sorted. Down at the train station we got the sleeper train, connecting bus and ferry booked smoothly with the help of the English speaking assistants – welcome back to easy travelling! The next port of call was to get down to the river so we could see the city from the water. A very friendly man from Chang Mai (North of Thailand) stopped us on the street and helped us to get a cheap government tuk tuk rather than the expensive private tuk tuks that try to take you to shops and tourist traps.
After finding the ferry pier we went downstream a few stops. Its definitely an experience on the water ferry, these drivers pull the ferry up to the piers like a Formula 1 driver pulling into the pits. Passengers are on and offloaded with almost surgical precision and then it’s on to the next one. And some of the longboats that cruise past have got engines on them that look like they are lifted out of a drag racer with big air intakes, intercoolers, turbos, the works!
We had a surprisingly good meal at a ramshackle restaurant by one of the piers before braving the heat and humidity at the Wat Arun temple on the other side of the river.
After seeing more temples than we could deal with in China, we were quite relieved to see that the Thai temples have a very unique design with lots of bright mosaic exteriors and pointed roof eves. Tanya had to rent some of the shawls from the temple as she was bearing too much skin.
We climbed the incredibly steep steps to the top of the temple trying as much as possible to stay in the shade from the intense sun. From the top there were good views over the river to the royal palace.
We walked through the rest of the grounds getting our fix of Buddha images for the day before embarking on a longwinded search for a bar to enjoy a cold beer. Even if it was served with ice, the beer was still worth the back street search.
After a much needed shower back at the hostel we headed out for the skybar at one of the local high rise hotels. The cocktails were extortionately priced for Thailand but that just means they are the same price as we would be paying back in UK, and we have a great night view over the city to go with it. We stayed for one drink before finding another great restaurant for dinner.
The next day we were prepared to get our Buddha on and tackle the various famous ones around town. Sitting, standing, reclining, made of gold or jade they just can’t get enough. The first port of call was the Jade Buddha in the Royal Palace. Walking to the palace, there are announcements over the speaker system saying that the palace is open every day between the designated times. This is to counteract the many touts who operate outside of the palace and tell tourists that the palace is closed today but they can take you to another temple.
Unfortunately the Jade Buddha was actually closed today (the ticket office was saying this) as the princess was having a private prayer today in the temple. The rest of the royal grounds were still open as usual though so we made do with admiring the incredible gold, green, red and brightly coloured mosaic buildings that the longest reigning current monarch in the world calls home.
Play the game – Where’s Jeffro
An air-conditioned restaurant was in order for a break from the heat, and it ended up being the pick of the bunch for our time in Bangkok.
The last stop was the Giant Reclining Buddha. As the name suggests, he was indeed giant and reclining and worth the entrance fee to see it. The grounds of the reclining Buddha were also nice with the afternoon sun reflecting nicely off the buildings.
We left Bangkok on the night train headed for Koh Tao which we passed the early hours with a few beers from the on board sellers. The trains here are a little different from what we had in China. An attendant comes along and makes up your bed from converting the seats to a bed. And they were pretty damn comfy too, or maybe it was the few beers rather than the bed...
Daniel – The heat and humidity is a shock to the system, just gives us more of a reason to find somewhere with air-conditioning and beers. Pretty impressive temples around the city!
Tanya – It was soo bloody muggy, I could hardly bear it. But once I accepted that its going to be like this for the next few months I just go on with enjoying travelling. Once we got our bearings, we found Bangkok easy to get around on the skytrain, metro and boats so exploring the city was easy done.
Jeffro – It’s damn warm here. Good to see things finally getting hot and steamy on my fourth appearance in Dan & Tan’s travel adventure slash honeymoon. Two nights probably not enough to see all the sights in the city, but it was good to tick the major Buddhas off the list and satisfy my craving for good Thai food, and I was pretty keen to hit the islands after the sweltering city temperatures.