Thailand: Bangkok

Michael and I traveled to Thailand as part of our 2007 career break. The following is an excerpt from our travel blog.

[singlepic=475,200,,,right]We left the quiet windy roads of New Zealand, where we were greeted by sheep at every turn, to the tuk-tuk filled traffic of Bangkok, where the King’s smiling face looked down at us from billboards, banners, and even buildings.  Bangkok travel would definitely prove to be a completely different experience.

Having arrived late afternoon, we decided to fight off travel lag by exploring the Suan Lum Night Bazaar for Michael’s first market experience in Thailand. Rows upon rows were filled with fabrics, t-shirts, carvings and jewelry, among hundreds of items. But bargaining would wait for another day as we headed to the open beer garden for Thai food and beer.

It was not a late night by any means as we were to rest up for our big day ahead. With just one full day in Bangkok before heading south, we had to be sure to get in the “must see’s”: The Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha; Wat Pho, home of the massive Reclining Buddha; and Wat Arun – the Temple of Dawn.

Grand Palace Photos

The Grand Palace is a massive complex covering 61 acres, and its numerous temples and buildings reach dramatically up into the sky, offering colorful and expansive views that are difficult to capture on film or video. And within the complex is Wat Phra Kaeo, considered the holiest Buddhist site in the country and home to the most important image, the Emerald Buddha. You could easily spend hours meandering around the complex.

Wat Pho Photos

It was just a short walk down the road to Wat Pho, the oldest temple in Bangkok, which also houses the 45 meter long Recining Buddha. As you admire Buddha in the position of him reaching Nirvana, the clank of coins being dropped in bowls resonates throughout the building. It is believed that if you drop a coin in each of the 108 bowls it will bring you good luck and a long life.

Wat Arun Photos

Then just a quick ferry across the river and we find ourselves at Wat Arun. This wat dates back to the Ayuttaya period (the former capital) so it takes on more of a Khmer style architecture (think Angkor Wat) and really stands out from the rest of the temples. As we ascended p the extremely steep and narrow stairs (not for those afraid of heights) we could look across the river and spy the Grand Palace.

[singlepic=497,250,,,right]Our tour would not be complete without a stop in the backpacker haven of Khao San Road. Having a beer during the day was enough experience for us, as the street turns into an all night party.

As this was Thanksgiving Day, we were fortunate to have been invited to an orphan-Thanksgiving, hosted by a former Peace Corps volunteer. Greg worked under Pimsuda, who is now the CCS Country Director for Thailand, so we dined with many ex-pats and CCS staff and volunteers, most of who weren’t even American. Still, we had a lovely rooftop feast with all the works – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. We were indeed thankful for the experiences that brought us this far.

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