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krisek Bangkok - A travel report by Krys
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Bangkok,  Thailand - flag Thailand
5932 readers

krisek's travel reports

Stunning, contrasting, bustling, huge. Bangkok.

  8 votes
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Thai capital city is not a joke. It is estimated that over eight million people live in Bangkok and the inner city contrasts are overwhelming, if not shocking to an European. It's a good shock. Many sights remind all that Thailand was never colonised.


Bangkok travelogue picture
There are many parts of Bangkok, which are extremely busy and very dirty, and it is often virtually impossible to cross a street. But there are parts, which are so secluded that it is hard to believe they are located in one of the largest and busiest metropolises on the planet. It is truly fascinating. The city dazzles with its colourful palaces and temples, impresses with the devotion to its religion, and shocks with its attitude to sex and drugs.

How people developed their ways for the movement in the city is remarkable and the traffic is unbelievable. All possible arteries are used, including the Mae Nam Chao Phraya river, which is serviced by very efficient river buses. All of them are usually packed to the last square inch. The new metro/fast transit system is truly a blessing - clean and very convenient.

Interesting is also the architecture of some of the skyscrapers. Actually, it is almost diabolical. It combines Greek and Roman very classical forms with modern art-deco elements, which result in grotesque figures, combinations and shapes, almost as if the local architects wanted taking a Mickey at the ancient classics. I have never seen anything so bold like that. Anything like it, at all, actually.

And another thing. Not surprising for an Asian city, I suppose, is the proximity of primitive manufacturing, located in many dirty workshops, to the hyper modern and mega clean sky rise towers and multilevel spaghetti road junctions. It was not surprising for me anymore, but when I was in Asia for the first time, I was rather shocked.

Bangkok is truly dynamic, vibrant, colourful, fascinating and a very exciting destination. It must be one of world's most recognisable and known destinations. It is also a proud capital. For Thailand was never colonised. The city has enough sights to keep one busy for a few days, depending on individual interests. At the same time, the traffic and general rush can for some become rather tiring. I loved it.

Favourite spots:
Bangkok travelogue picture
Impressive in Bangkok are temples. They are dotted around the city, some of them standing tall along the banks of the river. They look incredible day and night. Some of them are new, but their architecture is unique and follows the ideas of the Siamese classics.

A single extraordinary thing in the bustling Thai capital is the Grand Palace complex and the Wat Pho, at the other side of the street - across from the complex. The richness of the decorations of the royal inner city is a feast for your eyes. Everything is kept in an immaculate condition, clean and bright – it truly makes an extraordinary impression. The red, silver and golden paint seems so fresh and is almost dripping from the statues, which makes them look alive.

I cannot remember how long I spent exploring the Grand Palace, but I do remember there was so much to see and that I did not manage to see everything. It was indeed a city within the city. The size of it and its stupas, statues and wats was pleasantly intimidating.

What's really great:
The Golden Stupa at the royal complex
The Golden Stupa at the royal complex
Food, food, food! Green or red curry can be obtained literally every 150 yards in any direction in Bangkok! However, it is sometimes very difficult to find an eatery you actually would like to try. It took me, on a few occasions, an hour and a half on empty stomach to find a place I liked. Albeit, those I chose were fantastic! I had a number of criteria. I kept examining the ways they stored and served the food, whether it was cooked fresh, what sort of drinks they offered, and whether I would risk my life sitting too close to the traffic.

The food stalls on the streets are repeatedly said to be consistently very good. But a quick look at the 'kitchen area' and you feel like the food would definitely pass through you soon afterwards. Very soon! Even if you had taken all the Hepatitis injections, before leaving home, and regardless what you had eaten and how curried it might have been!

And yet, food must have been the single best thing in Bangkok, regardless of place or type. Curry!

Sights:
The Moon over the Democracy Monument
The Moon over the Democracy Monument
The royal palaces, the same concentrated within the royal complex as well as those scattered around the city, the many wats, stupas, and temples, the enormous images of Buddha, including the one in the moment of transferring into the state of Nirvana, and colourful cemeteries, are Bangkok sights. But I liked the striking Democracy Monument standing tall in this capital of a country with the longest reigning monarch in the world. The monument looked spectacular at night, and if the Moon was up, it added its extra quality to it.

I did enjoy Bangkok, although I only spent three days in the city and did not see everything and did not go everywhere. I did not even take the full advantage of the many joys at the Sukhumvit Road district, where all the bars, clubs (enjoying the broad spectrum of reputation), and merchants of the fake watches, mobile phones, multimedia players, and fashion clothing. Something tells me that this is exactly what I can do when I am back in the city one day.

Accommodations:
An old cemetery
An old cemetery
Originally, I planned to stay closer to the Grand Palace, but somehow I ended up staying at the Krung Kasem Srikung Hotel right outside the main train station – Hualamphong, across a small canal. I did not make any bookings before arrival, which allowed me the flexibility to change my mind many time over. I was not fussy. I just needed a place to crush and a relatively clean bathroom, preferably in an establishment that did not rent its rooms per hour... The hotel was basic, but it was safe and a very good value for money. Not only was its location very convenient, but the room was adequate, too. It had an en suite bathroom. And the restaurant downstairs served spectacular king prawn curries.

The only slight drawback was that the station was situated just outside the district of Chinatown – full of coffin manufacturers – bleee! When I was walking from the hotel towards the centre I must have passed a couple of dozens of those coffin places. Very depressing!

Nightlife:
Bangkok at night
Bangkok at night
There are countless spots for silly shopping in Bangkok and again Sukhumvit Road is the best for it. There are very many street vendors selling dirt-cheap serious and designer label watches, including Rolex, Omega, Bauer, CK, and more Rolex. Their copies, of course! If tempted to get some of those, which look almost authentic, one must check if everything works fine with them, as many have broken mechanisms or the setting knobs are damaged.

The area of Sukhumvit is also famous for its nightlife, namely drink bars, clubs, discos, strip and nightclubs – all on one street, next to each other. Very convenient, I might add. The road is also the best place meet with ladyboys and to drink snake’s blood.

The other nightlife area is the Siam Centre. I witnessed there a rather big fat event at the Skala area. I realised that it must have been a Thai equivalent of the American Academy's Oscar Gala – some sort of Film Awards for the year 2548 in Thailand. The area was full with Thai celebrities.

Hangouts:
Lumphini Park's weight lifting area
Lumphini Park's weight lifting area
My guidebook advertised the Lumphini Park as a good place to hang out and escape the mad traffic, so I went to check it out. It was actually smallish and very artificial. Okay, yes, there was a pond but the boats for rent had only stupid shapes of swans, etc and were made of plastic. There were not even many trees to look at. There was very little to look at in this park, full stop.

The single thing of interest might be the open-air weight lifting area, where local boys curl their muscles and practice stripping techniques, which they most probably must be then employing in the go-go bars and nightclubs along the Sukhumvit Road. When lifting, they made funny noises. These were loud enough so people (probably other boys) at the other side of the park could hear them. It was hysterical. I guess it was also good. It was like free entertainment for the already, only if they could get up for this spectacle before 2pm. Places like those we in England call 'meat market'...

Restaurants:
Mending service on the street
Mending service on the street
There are plenty of incredible restaurants in Bangkok, where curries are like heaven in mouth! Interestingly again, Thai curry based on coconut milk, lemon grass and chilli is known as soup category (which is totally more appropriate), and this is where I had to look for them in menus of all the restaurant I visited. The most delicious were river shrimps with garlic and pepper! The best thing I have ever tasted. I had a large portion of those prawns in a restaurant with river views not too far from the Grand Palace. It looked like a posh area and I could spot some well-dressed tourist there. The riverfront terrace provided excellent views on the river, temples at the other bank and water traffic. I have to say that, being addicted to Thai curry, I took a risk there ordering something else. I had no idea how good the prawns were going to be. Curries in Thailand are consistently delicious but everything else depended on the restaurant. It was so worth it to try something else there!

Other recommendations:
Inside the tuk-tuk
Inside the tuk-tuk
Bangkok’s tuk-tuks are everywhere happy to take everyone anywhere. Some of them are really greedy though, so bargaining is categorically a must.

One driver agreed a price with me (50 baht), and then began saying something in Thai-English that he was going to take me somewhere else (where I did not want to go actually) and suddenly wanted more money. At that point, we even did not move yet! I only wasted my time! I had to take another one, who whizzed me to my destination so quickly like no-one ever before and even wanted to give me change from my 50 baht! I did not let him, though. What I am saying that the quality and prices of the tuk-tuk services vary. The most expensive tuk-tuks are those with yellow windscreen frame, and these should be avoided in the first instance. It is better to take tuk-tuks with white, blue or red windscreen frames. They all are pretty uncountable, so it is very easy to spot the right one. It will be more than happy to take you anywhere for a fair fare.

Published on Wednesday February 4th, 2009


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Sun, Apr 25 2010 - 08:33 AM rating by mistybleu

Excellent read; wish I had read it before I went.

Thu, Feb 05 2009 - 01:22 PM rating by jorgesanchez

ten opoints: 5 for the pictures and 5 for the text.

Thu, Feb 05 2009 - 11:26 AM rating by pesu

As long as you can pass the coffin places.... ;-)
And river shrimps with garlic and pepper, hmmmm.
Stunning pics also!

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