Banging out the To-Do List in Bangkok

After so much time lazing about on the beautiful beaches of Thailand, I was really ready for the excitement of a city.  I flew from Phuket to Bangkok to meet up with my friend Ilene (who is taking a year off and is 8 months into her adventure) before we head to Myanmar.  Our big to-do was to get our same-day visas for Myanmar.  But we thankfully also had some time to explore the city.

I loved the vibrant energy of Bangkok!  I’ve gathered from speaking to other foreigners that people either love or hate this city, so I wasn’t sure what kind of experience I’d have.  Bangkok is obviously a big, crowded Asian city, and so I think the experience you have there depends a lot on when you go and where you stay.  Going before it’s too hot is good.  It was hot and damp (we got a few sprinkles), but honestly not as steamy as the islands or as bad as I had mentally prepared myself for.  And being able to get around easily really helps.  We stayed in a nice place on the river (thanks to Ilene using hotel points at the Hilton) so we were able to rely heavily on the river ferries and the skytrain to get around.  Of course the sunset swims in the rooftop pool overlooking the river helped too. 

 

Happy to find myself with this girl in Bangkok!
Happy to find myself with this girl in Bangkok!
The obligatory tuk tuk ride (and yes, the driver has a US Navy hat on...but still stiffed us)
The obligatory tuk tuk ride (and yes, the driver has a US Navy hat on…but still stiffed us)
Time to ride the Skytrain!
Time to ride the Skytrain!
Monks get priority seating on the Skytrain
Monks get priority seating on the Skytrain

 

 

The view from the pool
The view from the pool

 

 

Now the river is dirty – we saw plenty of dead fish and even a dead alligator-like creature floating about – but traveling by waterway adds a sense of adventure that no train, bus, or even tuk tuk can beat.  And the Mae Nam Chao Phraya river cuts through a good portion of the city sites (including the old city) that we wanted to see.  After so many warnings about the danger of traveling in the city right now, we avoided the areas where there were said to be political protests going on.  The closest we got was seeing a large encampment out the skytrain window.  But we were both glad we didn’t let the warnings stop us from seeing the city.

In the two-plus days we had in Bangkok, I felt like I got a decent sense of the city.  We spent some time wandering around Chinatown, found a lively Sunday market, had a history lesson at the National Museum, climbed Wat Arun, had some great cocktails in a couple of trendy areas (thanks to some great suggestions from Ryan in Singapore), and had some good food.  Of course we also spent a decent amount of time securing our visas and fresh U.S. dollars for Myanmar, but it really wasn’t much of a pain to get a same-day visa.  

Lots of engines - one of the many auto parts shops in Chinatown
Lots of engines – one of the many auto parts shops in Chinatown
Dinner with a view
Dinner with a view
Party boats on the river
Party boats on the river

 

A blue and gold pagoda @ The National Museum
A blue and gold pagoda @ The National Museum
Puppets!  @ The National Museum
Puppets! @ The National Museum
Lots of ivory @ The National Museum
Lots of ivory @ The National Museum
One of the courtyards (the museum is an old palace) @ The National Museum
One of the courtyards (the museum is an old palace) @ The National Museum
Pretty lady! Ilene @ The National Museum
Pretty lady! Ilene @ The National Museum
Weird hats @ The National Museum
Weird hats @ The National Museum
Royal carriages @ The National Museum
Royal carriages @ The National Museum
Close-up of a royal carriage
Close-up of a royal carriage
A gun cannon! @ The National Museum
A gun cannon! @ The National Museum
Typical stop light - scooters galore!
Typical stop light – scooters galore!
Walking the back streets to find the Museum of Royal Barges
Walking the back streets to find the Museum of Royal Barges
Ready for a night on the town
Ready for a night on the town
One of the fun scenes around Thong Lor
One of the fun scenes around Thong Lor
First fancy cocktail of the night (at an Irish Pub of all places -- we were pulled in by the Beatles cover band)
First fancy cocktail of the night (at an Irish Pub of all places — we were pulled in by the Beatles cover band)
Beatles cover band (a bit blurry) -- they were pretty damn good!
Beatles cover band (a bit blurry) — they were pretty damn good!
Fancy cocktail number two (smoke in a bottle) @ Iron Fairies
Fancy cocktail number two (smoke in a bottle) @ Iron Fairies
Fancy cocktail number three @ Above 11
Fancy cocktail number three @ Above 11
The view from the top!
The view from the top!
Welcome to Wat Arun!
Welcome to Wat Arun!
Wat Arun
Wat Arun
Time to climb!
Time to climb!
Ogres!
Ogres!
Leaving our mark on Wat Arun (they had a banner wrapped around the top level for this)
Leaving our mark on Wat Arun (they had a banner wrapped around the top level for this)

I really loved the street markets we wandered through – busy and a bit chaotic, navigating them takes a balance of patience and pushiness that takes a bit of practice.  But before you know it, you’re bargaining with the best and slipping through the crowd with ease.  And to me this experience is what makes Asia so much fun.        

The night market is a happening spot
The night market is a happening spot
I'm with you!
I’m with you!

 

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