Sawadee Ka (Hello) from Chiang Mai! After about two weeks of constant sightseeing and travel, Mitch and I have arrived in Chiang Mai, where we will be posted for the next two weeks. I am taking advantage of our longer stay here and the plethora of cute coffee shops to take a break from the road and reflect on some of our short stay in Bangkok.
Our Bangkok Digs
We spent about five days in Bangkok on the Chao Praya River near the Old City, which houses a lot of the historical sites we wanted to see.
Our guesthouse, Shanti Lodge, was about a five to ten minute walk to the Thewes Ferry Stop. We’ve been staying mostly in guest houses, which I would describe as a step above hostels but one below a normal hotel. Guest houses typically have a mix of dorm-style rooms, private rooms with shared bathrooms, and private rooms with en-suite bathrooms, which is what we’ve been staying in. Most have a common area downstairs where residents can mingle or grab a bite to eat. Shanti Lodge (the place where we are staying) also had an area for traditional Thai massages and yoga classes. Many guest houses also don’t have room turn down unless requested, and that is just fine with us and a way to conserve some resources.
Our days began with a quick walk from the Lodge to the Thewes Ferry Stop and taking the Chao Praya Express Ferry to our destination of the day.
In Bangkok, we visited most of the main tourist attractions plus some other off-the-beaten-path areas Mitch scoped out for food purposes. As far as major tourist sites go, we managed to squeeze in two major wats, or temples, the Grand Palace, and the National Museum. It was so hot in Bangkok from about 11 am through 3 pm, so we tried to do our sightseeing during the early mornings and retreat into museums in the afternoons, which ended up working out very well.
Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn, is a Buddhist temple that was actually named after a Hindu god, Aruna who is often shown as a radiating sun. It’s interesting to see how much Hindu influence is tied into the Buddhist culture here in Thailand.
Wat Pho is directly across the Chao Praya River from Wat Arun. I wasn’t as impressed with Wat Pho, except for the enormous reclining Buddha statue inside. Buddha is represented in a number of different poses that each mean something specific; the reclining Buddha represents Buddha before his death and reincarnation.
After visiting these two wats, we went back home, and I slept for 12 hours due to a combination of heat exhaustion and time change struggles.
On a more personal level, thinking back to my first few days in Bangkok, I’d have to say the biggest adjustment for me was (and still is) getting used to the heat and insects. Being closer to the equator means the sunshine is much stronger, so sunscreen all day is a must. Currently, we are almost out of our U.S. sunscreen and can only find sunscreen with whitening/bleaching agents here in Thailand. We are trying to avoid these as much as possible, but we will have to give in soon. There are also mosquitoes everywhere, and since I’m more allergic to mosquitoes than the average person, DEET is my new best friend. Gross.
That’s it for Bangkok wats! Kind of boring, unless you were there, I know. Up ahead: The Grand Palace, National Museum, and Bangkok food and markets. Yum!