My first time in Bangkok happens just because I consider 11 hours of flight tolerable, but not 24h. So in between Germany and New Zealand, I discover Thailand or well, just Bangkok as I assume the rest of the country to be pretty different.
Even though I am lucky enough to have a seat with plenty of space for my feet and no passenger on the seat right next to me, I can’t sleep much on my night flight. At least I get to see Wild again (fitting my Te Araroa hike) and a German movie. The neighbour one seat further is a German living in Cheng Mai with his girlfriend and child, making in three month in Germany enough money to spend the rest of his time in Thailand. He insists that his wife is earning also enough money that she even could provide for the family on her own. He is a rather young nice guy, not the typical guy you would expect now. He says that the taxi from the airport is pretty cheap and just around 100 Bhat more expensive than taking the train plus Tuktuk (as advised by my friend Coco back at home). I am tired and just follow his advice (although it’s in the end of course more expensive. You have to pay toll fee for the express highway,…)
After being finally in my hotel room at the Top Inn, I collapse on the bed for a while before taking a shower and walking around famous Backpacker road Khao San for a while. I have a phad Thai for dinner followed by a dragon fruit smoothy, both simply bought on the street. Then I discover bracelets made on place to your wishes so I spontaneously decide to buy a Te Araroa one! And to finish off the day I am treating my feet to a foot massage (one of a total three, because I am desperate to have my left foot heal and massage helps according to my doctor at home; and not to forget it’s ridiculously cheap with 150 Bhat (not even 4€) for half an hour. Then back to my hostel for some sleep (even though the neighbouring bars are loud).
My Saturday turns out to become very busy. Not really feeling awake, I get a western latte macchiato with caramel (of course expensive compared to the other food prices here). But it’s good and I feel ready to take the bus to the Tangling Chan floating market. I was advised where bus 79 stops and at the hostel they wrote down the name in Thai. I show it to the driver and he tells me to have a seat. There’s a lady who comes around for the bus ticket and simply shows me the receipt where I can see the price (13 Bhat). When we arrive at the market the driver stops right in front of it to let me out (not a regular stop)… So lesson one for today is that taking a bus is easy as 1, 2, 3 and the people are very kind and helpful!
It’s around 9.30 am and luckily not yet crowded and not yet many tourists. The market is not big but there’s enough to see, eat, buy and take hundreds of pictures. I discover that you can even take a traditional khlong boat trip, one hour only 60 Bhat. I am of course all in even though I have to wait until 10.45am for the next boat. Not that I get bored in between, taking pictures and laughing with our boat guide who shows me around a little.
The trip is nice, we make a few touristy stops, to feed the fish (who is splashing around), to visit a temple and on the way back we can buy some traditional food from the boat. I still enjoy to discover from the boat how some people live here.
I am very embarrassed when one of the passengers tells me that my pants are ripped open at my butt… OMG! After disembarking I immediately buy new pants and get changed. Luckily it’s only 150Bhat as I will not keep it anyway afterwards for New Zealand and there is limited choice.
Then I buy some delicious food before taking the bus back into town, heading for the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeow (the temple of the emerald Buddha which by the way is so small you cannot really see it – but all the other buildings around are worth a visit). The entrance fee is expensive with 500 Bhat and you need to be well covered as otherwise they won’t let you in – though you can borrow clothes at the entrance for a deposit and queue). So much gold and so well kept! Although it’s busy with plenty of tourists, I enjoy the visit and take my time to walk around.
Afterwards I walk to the nearby Wat Pho, famous for its reclining Buddha although I really love the small statues made of stone.
Then another short walk to the pier where I take for just 14 Bhat the ferry to Chinatown.
It’s fast and great to see the city from the water. As you would expect, Chinatown is crowded and busy and you can get lost in the tiny alleys where they sell everything and where even some people squeeze in to sell their Streetfood. So I eat and walk and when I am tired I have a break in a coffeehouse.
Then via little India (not seeing much of it, getting tired anyway of the crowds) back to the ferry who takes me up again to Banglampoo where my hostel is. As it’s getting dark now, the ferry ride is especially nice with the lights getting on. Some dinner on my way home before I hope to get sleep. I am tired but it’s Saturday night and the bars are having competition about who plays the loudest (live) music until 3am so I am not sleeping much at all.
The next day I am up anyway, taking again the bus, this time to the Chatchuak weekend market, a bit further outside. For 19 Bhat, it takes about 30minutes to get there, cheaper and (for me) easier than taking a Tuktuk plus the skytrain
I am again notified when we arrive there. The market is huge, my guidebook says about 10,000 small stands. You can buy ANYTHING here, clothes, electronic stuff, furniture,… And of course you can eat a lot. It’s just a pity that I cannot carry further stuff for my hikes, otherwise I would have bought plenty of nice but cheap stuff!
After two hours I am tired, also it gets crowded now. So I am heading back to my hostel for some more sleep in (almost) silence now. Then I am off to visit a few temples. First I walk to the Giant Swing. It was formerly used as swing in religious ceremonies, but discontinued in 1935 after several fatal accidents.The swing itself is not really worth a visit but the neighbouring temple Wat Suthat has become my favourite one! The Buddha statue and the wall paintings are beautiful, but I also got to discover for the first time in Bangkok some silence and could feel that I am in a very special place.
So I sat for quite some time before continuing to the Wat Thepthidaram, which was under construction and also monks were praying so I couldn’t enter (or at least I didn’t want to disturb). So next up to the Golden Mount where apparently a tooth of Buddha is kept. It’s was also partly under construction but the view from the 70m artificial hill was worth the visit.
The lights are getting on as I walk back, it feels like Christmas. The last temple is already closed at close to 6pm but it’s anyway very close to my hostel. I get back for a short rest before leaving again for dinner. The night is again disturbed by the loud music but I sleep a bit better.
Monday is already my last day! I am off for some coffee before visiting two more temples. They aren’t that nice and one is again busy with monks. The one from yesterday is having a ceremony so only Thai people can enter. I learn that the king had to be hospitalised yesterday so that’s why there are so many ceremonies. The Thai love their king and everyone is praying for him. So time for me to check out, have a final foot massage plus a Thai massage as I have some money left, lunch and at 2pm the shuttle bus picks me up. I am meeting a New Zealand guy with his Chinese wife (who live in Thailand) so he is pleased to hear I am going to Auckland and wishes me the best of luck for my trail!
If you get the chance to stop over in Bangkok, take a few days to discover this city with so many different faces!