A rush of warm air hit me as I stepped off the plane in Bangkok, a world away from the rainy Rome we had left behind. The temperature today, 36 degrees, and not likely to fall below 28 degrees overnight. Needless to say after navigating our way through customs and the airport, we hopped on the Airport City Train and enjoyed the comforts of the air conditioning.
Our accommodation was located close to Central Pier, and the Saphan Taskin BTS (Bangok Sky Train). Unfortunately for us, with our 2okg bags, there was no escalator. But as soon as we arrived at Escape at Sathorn Terrace, all was well in the world. The fantastic staff presented us both with ice cold bottles of water and took us up to our air conditioned studio apartment. We collapsed on the bed and only ventured out to grab some food, before hermitsing ourselves in our room for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
But the next day, well rested, we decided to head out to the Grand Palace.
If you have ever visited Bangkok or read any blogs about the Grand Palace, you will no doubt have heard about the great Tuk Tuk scam. I don’t know if you will have heard about the Chao Phraya River Tourist Boat one though. The easiest way to get to the Grand Palace is to catch the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Tha Tien (N8) pier and then walk up to the Grand Palace (about 15 minutes). The boat ride fare is collected by a woman walking up and down the boat shaking a can full of coins, it is about 15 Baht (60c NZ) each way.
However at the Pier are some very opportunistic Thai people who offer tourists advice about how to get there including a 150Baht day pass to the public boats. At ten times the price you would have to take 10 trips in order for this to be anywhere near worth it, something I am sure only the most heat bearing people would be able to do.
Anyway, enough about scams, let’s get onto the stunning beauty of the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace was built in 1782 by King Rama I and was the home of the Royal Family and Court and Government administration for 150 years until 1925. The Grand Palace is now used only for special events and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bangkok.
The complex itself is 218,400 square metres, and is surrounded by large snow white walls on all sides. The complex itself is full of incredibly beautiful and ornately decorated statues, temples and paintings. It is a testament to the strong love the Thai people have for both their King and their Buddhist beliefs.
Two of the Three Royal Reception rooms are open to the public, and the complex contains the Emerald Buddha. Interestingly, the Emerald Buddha is not emerald, it is actually Jade, the name comes from the mistaken identification of the stone by the person who discovered it. Wandering around the temple is like taking a step back in history, the sheer magnitude of the grounds and the immense golden hue that surrounds it, is astounding.
Once you have wandered around for about an hour in the heat and long pants/skirt (there is a strict dress code for entering the palace), you’ve had about enough. It was a relief to be back on the river again enjoying the breeze and we headed back for a quick break at our hotel.
But the evening held the promise of a new adventure – Asiatique.
Asiatique is a new outdoor night market built on the side of the Chao Phraya River. It is popular amongst both tourists and locals alike, there is a free shuttle boat from Central Pier, that runs every fifteen minutes between 17.00 and 23.00. Craig and I decided to head there for dinner on our second night. As you step off the boat and onto the pier, you are instantly struck by the beauty of the market. Hanging lights adorn the waterfront restaurants and widely paved pedestrian streets lead you down towards the boutique shops in Warehoues 1, 2 and 3.
While we were there, there was a dessert festival celebrating the melting pot of Bangkok Cuisine. You could have anything from Moochi (Japanese rice covered ice cream) to Macaroons from France and Bubble Milk Tea. The melting pot continues through the night market where you can eat Pizza and Pasta, Irish Pub Food, Japanese Teppanyaki or Thai fusion, with prices from super cheap to expensive (By Thai Standards).
However, while the food was pretty amazing. The Fish Foot Spa was far more exciting. Fish Foot Spas are a popular thing to do in Bangkok. You sit in a tank and have fish eat the dead skin off your feet. It is one of the weirdest things I have ever done and it tickles like crazy.
All good things must come to an end and so our trip to Asiatique was over, but not before we were treated to the stunning skyline of Bangkok by night.
Tomorrow Craig is back to work and I am off to Jim Thompson’s silk house and the infamous MBK discount mall.
Ginga Musings Out, Khob Khun Ka for reading.