Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Trip to Thailand (Part 1)

28.I.14
Kristen says...

So, it was a pretty good week last week. Monday we celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a nice day off of work, and Wednesday afternoon we got on a plane and flew to Bangkok, Thailand for a short vacation.

Besides Hong Kong, this was the first Asian city I've ever been to, and Thailand is particularly interesting because it was never "taken over" by Imperializing European nations in the mid to late 1800s...therefore it is without many of the European aspects of other geographically close nations. For history nerds like me, that made visiting Thailand even more exciting!

If you have never been to the airport in Bangkok it is interesting to note two things. 1) It's very similar to the Seoul airport, especially where you check in for your flight and 2) It's beautifully decorated:

While we didn't know it at the time, this mural was a definite sign of what was to come...in truth, it seems that the entire city of Thailand is beautifully decorated!

Unfortunately, Bangkok is 4 hours behind Vlad, and our flight landed in Bangkok after 10:00 at night, so we were way too tired to see much of the city until early the next morning when we headed out to see some of the city.

Thankfully, Bangkok is 4 hours behind Vlad, so getting up at 6 felt like sleeping in until 10 am! :)

We stayed with a friend during our time in Thailand, and lucky for he had two other visitors staying who had been "casing" the city for over a week, and knew where to go, when to go and how to get there. Also, they're fun people! :)

So, early on our first morning in Bangkok we all got up, got ready, and went out to see some of the amazing Bangkok sights.

There are many ways to get around the city (it's very modern!) including a metro/light rail system and boat taxis. We took both to get around our first day.
On the water
Mmm, salad ;)
Yes, that is a car motor on the back of that boat! :)
There were three things I really wanted to do and see in Bangkok: The Reclining Buddha and the Monastery of Wat Pho, The Grand Palace and shopping at the weekend market.

We decided to go to Wat Pho first, assuming that it might be busier later. The first thing we saw was the GIANT Reclining Buddha:
I think this was the second-largest Buddha we've seen in the past few months.
 Once you see the Buddha you can continue through the sprawling Wat Pho complex. First, though, you have to be properly dressed:


 Since I was wearing shorts that day I had to throw on a sarong, which didn't do much for my outfit but was much more culturally appropriate, and thus much more important:

 The monastery was beautiful, and full of murals:

 Buddhas:
 Temples:
And free water for tourists! Thanks, Thailand! :)
 Seriously, I'm not sure I can adequately describe how beautiful the monasteries and temples were!



After Wat Pho we walked a few blocks away to the Grand Palace. The entire (huge) complex is surrounded by a high, white wall.
 And hilarious signs like this!
 This was a very appropriate sign, because the "tourist police" standing outside one of the side entrances tried to tell us that the Grand Palace was only open to Thai citizens until 1:00, but he would be happy to take us on a boat trip to pass the time until the palace opened...riiiiight.

 Needless to say, we said, "Thanks but no thanks" to the wily stranger and continued on to the main entrance, where we were welcomed with open arms.

 I had to don my sarong again, but the big surprise was that Chris, with his shorts, had to rent pants in order to enter the Palace. Nooooo problem:
After that, we entered the beautiful palace grounds:
 Monastery chic!




The last thing we did on our first day in Bangkok was to visit the Wat Arun...us and about a million monks!
Chris and the monks
 We were walking up to get on the boat to cross the river to the Wat, and then suddenly we were surrounded by monks! Monks get priority in Thailand (they even have reserved seats on the light rail trains) so they got to jump to the front of the line and take the first ferry across the river. Even so, we ran into them all around the Wat Arun complex, which was pretty neat!
So, incidentally, was the Wat!

Instead of being decorated with sparkly bits of glass, it was rougher-looking, made out of beautiful pottery shards:


 There were no Buddhas around (that we could see) but we did get to go up about halfway to the top of the Wat via a couple of VERY STEEP staircases:
 Which gave us beautiful city views, as expected.

Actually, we had a lot more beautiful city views in Bangkok...but that's for Part 2. :)

KF

2 comments:

  1. I really enjoy reading your blog Kristen ... Wow!! I really want to go to Thailand now!! Thank you :)
    Penney

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Penney! Yay! I'm so glad you like the blog, and thanks for the comment! I totally recommend Thailand...but maybe wait until after their elections are over!

      Delete

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