Bangkok is exactly how I’ve described it in the title: a beautiful disaster. Our first major stop on our trip, getting from the airport to our hostel in Bangkok was insane and overwhelming. Trying to stay savvy, my friends and I follow our hostels advice of taking a cab to the closest metro station and then catching the Sky Rail to our hostel. We finally hail down a cab, and experience Bangkok driving at it’s finest. When I say that it was insane, I mean INSANE. Nearly crashing 50 times in our short ride to the metro stop, we were more than thankful to rush out of the cab and finally make contact with the earth again. After about 45 minutes of getting lost in the sweltering heat, we make it to our hostel, Bed Station (by far one of the best hostels we stayed at on our trip) dripping with sweat and smelling of street food, garbage and airplane.
Walking through Bangkok is like walking through a store in which the employees make money off of commission, but on steroids. People will sell you anything and everything, and it’s impossible to avoid them as they yell at you as you pass by. One taxi driver shouts “TAXI, TAXI” as you walk by, and immediately after replying “no thank you”, another taxi driver, just having watched you refuse the previous, will continue to do the same. Endearing at first, this practice quickly gets on your nerves and is a test to your patience. Learning to say no without feeling bad is a must and allows you to feel the liveliness of Bangkok, a force so energizing that it makes you feel alive no matter the circumstance.
While all of South East Asia is filled with Buddha statues, temples and shrines, it felt as though Bangkok was the hub of Buddha. With a few new friends from our hostel, once again, trying out our savvy traveler hats, we did as the locals do and took a water taxi (only 13 baht) to visit some of the temples. Different from the bustling streets of Bangkok, water taxi ride was quick and serene (as serene as Thailand ever gets), giving us a chance to see Bangkok through a different set of eyes; I highly recommend it. Arriving to the port, and back to Bangkok reality, we set out to find Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), and the Grand Palace.
Due to its size, it’s almost impossible to capture a photo of the impressive reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, but the architecture of the surrounding temples are simply breathtaking and well worth the 100 baht fee (about $3).
Wat Pho, spread over large grounds, has a serene and intimate vibe, while the Grand Palace, still beautiful, is packed with sweaty tourists and only bearable for a few moments.
Other important places to visit in Bangkok:
Street Food: So this isn’t a place, but it’s VERY important. The (street) food in Thailand was one of, if not THE, best food I ate in South East Asia. I’ve never been a big fan of street food, but after travelling, I can safely say that it is the safest food you can eat abroad. As long as it is freshly made in front of you (as opposed to sitting out for hours), the food in itself is an experience that will blow you away. From rice noodles with fresh vegetables (my personal favourite) to Pad Thai covered in chopped peanuts, this food is something I still dream about and is extremely budget friendly.
China Town: Self explanatory, great food and an easy, fun day trip.
Sky Bar: The Hangover 2 was filmed here, so the drinks cost an arm and a leg, BUT, the breathtaking view of Bangkok is free and a must see.
Koh San Road: DIRTY. So dirty, but a preview to the sex industry that plays a large role in the Thai economy. While Phuket is the hub, Koh San Road, clad with dingy bars, tickets to the infamous “Ping Pong Show” and lady boys is a must see on the Thailand list.
The Big Swing: We still haven’t quite figure out how this is a swing, but it is near many beautiful temples and street filled with shops selling extremely large Buddha statues. Well worth the wander.