The Wat Pho, is a large complex of temples and statues and worth exploring.

A week in Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

January 27, 2015 – February 4, 2015

Full Bangkok Photo Gallery

After spending two and a half weeks exploring Sri Lanka we boarded a plane to our next destination of Bangkok, Thailand!  We had been moving around fairly often in Sri Lanka, not spending more than two or three days in once place, so we decided we wanted to spend a week in one spot without moving and where better than Bangkok, an exciting city with tons to do!  So we got on airbnb and booked a week at a great little apartment with a pool and a view!

Bangkok would prove to have lots to offer, great food, markets, sites and every modern convenience you could want, but first we had to get there.  We boarded a Sri Lankan airlines flight and much to my excitement our flight over the Indian Ocean flew directly over North Sentinel island.  Most of the world has probably never heard of this little island, but it is famous not for being known but for being unknown.  Its a place I’ve personally been fascinated with ever since I heard about it several years ago.  North Sentinel island is one of last unexplored places on the planet, with a tribe of inhabitants which has remained completely uncontacted.  No one has ever successfully made contact with them, their language and culture and everything about them remain totally unknown to the world.  Many attempts to make contact have been made, but the islands inhabitants have repelled all comers with spears and bows and arrows.  It is now a protected island and there is no way to get anywhere near it unless you happen to be on a flight from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Bangkok, Thailand.  We flew directly over it, the closest anyone can hope to get (safely) and I snapped some pics out the window.

Our flight took us right over North Sentinel Island, one of the last unexplored places in the world.
Our flight took us right over North Sentinel Island, one of the last unexplored places in the world.

Anyway, after nerding out a bit over North Sentinel Island, we landed in the humid heat of Bangkok, Thailand and one of the biggest cities so far on this trip.  We took a cab to our Airbnb apartment, a great little place with a pool, a view, and most importantly A/C.  Again Airbnb proved to be a great way to get a nice place to stay for a much better price than any hotel.   Unfortunately our apartment did not have much of a kitchen, only a water boiler for coffee/tea, a fridge and a microwave.  We found out after we arrived that most new apartment buildings in Bangkok do not have full kitchens, in fact in many buildings cooking is not allowed.  It seems that Thais, particularly the younger generation, doesn’t cook.  With the abundance of street food and restaurants it seems everyone just eats out, everyday.

The view from our apartment.
The view from our apartment.
Street food vendors are everywhere in the city and sell just about everything you could imagine, and some things you didn't want to.
Street food vendors are everywhere in the city and sell just about everything you could ever want, and some things you probably don’t.

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We found some coffee from the mountain of Seattle, its a Japanese brand and tasted pretty good.
We found some coffee from the mountain of Seattle, it’s a Japanese brand and tasted pretty good.

We decided to see a movie at a theater near our apartment and were asked to stand before the movie, while the Thai national anthem and accompanying video dedicated to the King were played. We learned this happens before every movie showing in Thailand.

Downtown Bangkok

After getting a hang of the public transportation system, a network of express buses, subways and the skytrain, we headed downtown.  Mention Bangkok, Thailand to many people and it will elicit visions of an unsavory city full of scams, poverty and a seedy red light district. While that may have been true in the past, today downtown Bangkok is a clean ultra modern city teaming with high end malls, people wearing all the latest fashions and tons of family friendly attractions.  Everywhere we turned there was new skyscrapers going up, high end shops, malls, apartment buildings and friendly Thais always happy to give directions or answer questions.

Our first stop downtown was actually the US embassy, where Krista had an appointment to have more pages added to her passport.  One hour and US$82 later 48 new pages were added, which should be plenty to last her until her passport expires in 2022!

Motorcycles are a common sight in Bangkok.  Be careful on sidewalks as they also often double as a motorcycle lane.
Motorcycles are a common sight in Bangkok. Be careful on sidewalks as they also often double as a motorcycle lane.
Bangkok's new skytrain made getting around the city very easy.
Bangkok’s new Skytrain makes getting around the city very easy.
There doesn't seem to be one central downtown, the buildings stretch for miles in every direction.
There doesn’t seem to be one central downtown, the buildings stretch for miles in every direction.

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Temples are a common sight, sometimes right between skyscrappers.
Temples are a common sight, sometimes right between skyscrappers.
The canals which run in a maze throughout the city are still used by passenger boats, and offer a new way to get around and see the city if you get tired of the skytrain.
The canals which run in a maze throughout the city are still used by passenger boats, and offer a new way to get around and see the city if you get tired of the skytrain.
Inside a canal boat.
Inside a canal boat.
Homes and shops along the canals.
Homes and shops along the canals.
We did check out Bangkok's infamous downtown red light district, its has now been relegated to a single block and is mostly full of tourists-men and women-taking pictures.
We did check out one of Bangkok’s infamous downtown red light districts, no visit would be complete without it.  It has now been relegated to a single one block long street and has actually become quite touristy, we saw many couples coming to check it out and snap some pictures.

Chinatown

If you are after street food, one of the best places you can go is Chinatown, were you can find a dozen straight blocks of nothing but street food!

 

Chinatown at night is a great place to come and get street food.
Chinatown at night is a great place to come and get street food.

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Durian

Durian, the controversial fruit, can be found here and we saw lots of street vendors selling it.  It has been called the “king of fruits” and the best tasting delicacy one can eat, and by others it has been called the worst tasting and most awful smelling food they’ve ever encountered.  Having heard of this love it or hate it fruit we were both excited to try it and render our own judgements upon it.  The fruit is a semi solid sort-of slimy yellow mass around large seeds, inside of a large spiky rind. We both agreed it smelled and tasted a bit like fermented or rotten onions.  What we did not quite agree on was whether it was good or not.  Turns out Krista liked it and I did not, while I wouldn’t say I hate it, I would not seek it out.  Krista however did seek it out and has eaten it multiple times since, along with other durian flavored items like ice cream, coffee and cream puffs! Gross!

Durian is popular in Bangkok and vendors sell it along the street.
Durian is popular in Bangkok and vendors sell it along the street.  Its charms don’t work on everyone though as some businesses and the subway have signs banning the fruit, as the smell is quite potent.

 The Golden Mount Temple

Near the center of the city on a small rise is the Golden Mount Temple, one of the city’s oldest and most visited.  It is now actually a complex of temples and shrines along a path which spirals up to the top.  There are beautifully colorful buildings spread out around the hill and of course great views of the city from the top.

A large and very loud gong.
A large and very loud gong.

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The view from the top.
The view from the top, distant skyscrapers shrouded in haze.
We passed a long line of monks walking down the street on our way out.
We passed a long line of monks walking down the street on our way out.

Wat Pho Reclining Buddha

We visited the Wat Pho Temple complex to see the famous Buddha statue there.  At 15 meters tall and 43 meters long it is one of the world’s largest ‘Reclining Buddha’ statues and is a truly impressive sight.

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The Wat Pho, is a large complex of temples and statues and worth exploring.
The Wat Pho, is a large complex of temples and statues and worth exploring.

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Wat Arun Buddhist Temple

Across the river from the reclining Buddha is the Wat Arun Buddhist Temple, a large stone pyramid temple you can climb up for great views of the river and the surrounding city.  The stairs are extremely steep, it is practically a ladder.  Some people were nervous climbing up, but if you’re not afraid of heights it’s worth the climb!

Crossing the river by boat, Wat Arun temple in the background.
Crossing the river by boat, Wat Arun temple in the background.
Signs warning about pickpockets are common, they should be easy to spot though, they will be dressed in red from head to toe.
Signs warning about pickpockets are common. They should be easy to spot though, they will be dressed in red from head to toe.
A cat lounging on an alligator outside the temple, Richard thrown in for scale.
A cat lounging on an alligator outside the temple, Richard thrown in for scale.
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If you do run into the pickpockets they have Police in a box ready to help.

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After climbing the temple we stopped at a riverside restaurant for some Phad Thai.
After climbing the temple we stopped at a riverside restaurant for some Pad Thai.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Every weekend northern Bangkok fills with people going to the Chatuchak Weekend Market.  Easily accessed by the skytrain, this enormous market is full of anything and everything, from puppies and rabbits to clothing, household items, pet food, souvenirs, etc.  The shops were surprisingly upscale, while the deals were still good, so we ended up buying quite a few souvenirs to ship home before departing the city.  If you are in Bangkok over the weekend and enjoy markets, be sure to check out Chatuchak.

Some of the sprawling Chatuchak market from above.
Some of the sprawling Chatuchak market from above.
Typical market scene.
Typical market scene.
Krista and the clock tower.
Krista and the clock tower.
Need any fake fruit or veggies?
Need any model fruit or veggies to adorn your kitchen?
Of course we found some good food to sample.  After eating mostly vegetarian in India and Sri Lanka, Richard is excited for some fried chicken.
The market would not be complete without some good food to sample. After eating mostly vegetarian in India and Sri Lanka, Richard is excited for some fried chicken, while Krista opted for coconut pancakes.

Cooking Pad Thai in Thailand

After our new found love of cooking classes we couldn’t leave Bangkok without taking a Thai cooking class.  We learned how to make several typical Thai dishes, including pad thai and Krista’s new favorite dessert, mango sticky rice.  We also learned that it is popular for Thai’s to take the cooking class, not just foreigners, as so many Thai’s (especially those in the city) don’t know how to cook anymore.

Our teacher for the cooking class.
Our instructor for the cooking class.
Our class was all tourists.
Our class was all tourists, and we each had our own cooking station.

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Graduation photo
Graduation photo
Krista's new favorite dessert, mango sticky rice.
Krista’s new favorite dessert, mango sticky rice.
And of the course the best part of the class, eating!
And of the course the best part of the class, eating!

Super Bowl in Bangkok

We were in Bangkok for the Super Bowl this year, and since the Seahawks were playing of course we wanted to watch.  The only problem was it would start at 6:30am.  There were however several sports bars around the city opening early to host Super Bowl viewing parties.  We made reservations at one of them downtown and got there around 6am to watch the Super Bowl!   The biggest difference, besides the early hour, was that there were no commercials. When everyone back at home would be watching a commercial the camera would just switch to a view of the entire stadium from a distance and sit there for several minutes until going back to the action.  The bar was filled with traveling Americans and a few curious locals, most of the crowd was Seahawks fans, and we learned that the locals generally only watch it for the half time show. It was strange drinking beer so early in the morning and watching the sunrise rather than the sunset.

Our Thai announcers for the big game.
Our Thai announcers for the big game. The guy on the right never spoke, I think he might have been a weatherman stuffed into the seat to round out the desk.

Heading South to the Beach!

After our slow paced and much needed relaxing week in Bangkok, we headed to the train station for a surprisingly comfortable train ride south to the islands and beaches of southern Thailand.

Sitting room only in the crowded Bangkok train station. Despite the lack of chairs or benches it is actually a pretty nice station.
Sitting room only in the crowded Bangkok train station. Despite the lack of chairs or benches it is actually a pretty nice station.

2 thoughts on “A week in Bangkok, Thailand”

  1. You are doing on a trip of a life time. You are young enough to go to places, a lot of us could only dream about. I wish you the best time of your life ,where ever you decide to go.
    Love, Mike & Marla

  2. There’s a Korean market on 99 that I walk by to get to the Safeway that sells durian. Their dumpsters smells about 50% like fishy garbage and 50% like durian, so the fruit has been ruined for me as the association w/ trash comes up whenever I smell it.

    Keep up the good work here, I’m loving the blog!

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