I’ve spent more time at Suvarnabhumi Airport than in any other terminal on this trip. Yet, I didn’t actually see Bangkok until the very end of my travels. While the airport is perfectly nice, suffice it to say that it wasn’t the best introduction to Thailand’s capital, particularly for someone who wasn’t that interested in the city to begin with. Yet, the city has surprised me. With only two days, we only saw a small selection of what Bangkok has to offer. Of course, we started with the must-sees: the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. Everyone had warned us about the Grand Palace: it’s crowded and expensive, but you can’t skip it. Despite the insane crowds, we enjoyed seeing the numerous temples, shrines, Buddha’s, and state buildings. But the main highlight was Wat Pho and it’s reclining Buddha. The Buddha statue is one of the largest in Thailand, measuring 15m high and 46m long. The chapel is perfectly sized to fit the statue, and it’s funny to see part of the statue almost touching the ceiling. Wat Arun offered a different experience: boat trips. For 8 baht round trip (US$0.25), we took a 2-minute boat trip across the rather brown and choppy river. The temple itself is striking, with its tall towers and white mosaics. While the temples shed light on Buddhism and the relationship between Thai’s and the king, the boat trip offered a glimpse of the natural environment in Bangkok.
Given our limited time and the diverging interests of my travel companion and me, we spent the rest of our days in the capital eating fantastic Thai food (basically my favorite activity in Thailand), getting massages (wait, maybe that’s my favorite activity), and wandering through the alleys and streets of Rattanakosin, Khao San Road, and Banglamphu. There’s much more going on in Bangkok, but the glimpse we got was quite enjoyable. A major highlight was getting some insight into Bangkok and Thailand from our guesthouse hosts, but more on that in my next post.