Photo Journal: Weekend in Bangkok, Thailand
While I would have liked to have spent more time in Bangkok, my weekend trip to Thailand’s largest city was just enough to feel like I escaped the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. Just a 2.5 hour hop, skip and jump away, below are some highlights from the quick getaway:
Scouring the Grand Palace:
From the late 1700’s until early 1900’s, the Grand Palace (Thai: พระบรมมหาราชวัง) was the official residence of Siam and Thailand’s kings. Today, it is arguably Thailand’s most famous landmark and still used for royal affairs. Surrounded by four walls, the Grand Palace is made up of numerous buildings, halls, pavilions set around open lawns, gardens and courtyards. The most notable of which were the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Phra Maha Monthian buildings and the Siwalai Gardens quarter. While beautifully crafted and meticulously maintained, we found the ornate setting to be a bit too engineered. Nonetheless, it was worth the two-hour tour.
Rummaging the weekend market:
With over 15,000 stores spanning 35 acres, Chatuchak (Thai: จตุจักร) weekend market in Bangkok is the world’s largest weekend market. Selling anything you could ever want, this market would take at least a week to cover. With offerings that include furniture, household accessories, clothing, Thai handicrafts, plants, art, collectibles, food, drinks, and live animals, I didn’t have any trouble delighting myself (and using some negotiating skills) for several hours. And after I got tired of shopping? The market also had Thai massage stalls and shops that served homemade coconut ice cream!
Cruising the ‘Venice of the East’:
Instead of sitting in traffic on one of those iconic tuk-tuks, we took a speedboat ride along one of Thailand’s major waterways: the Chao Praya River (Thai: แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา). Bangkok’s waterways are the true symbols of a city that was known as the “Venice of the East” during much of the 19th Century. While much of the waterways have been paved over for roads and highways, it was amazing to see how local residents depend on the river for daily living. Apparently, thousands of commuters still travel everyday by motorized boat on the river’s canals. Our two-hour boat tour brought us through the remaining network of canals past leafy trees, teak houses and temples. We made a quick pit stop at Taling Chan floating market, which features food vendors who cook up fresh seafood in their boats and serve them to diners in their boats! Our hotel concierge warned us that our weak foreign stomachs wouldn’t be able to handle the local fare and, despite our salivating mouths, we took her advice.
Eating like a local:
The local food in Thailand is among the best I have ever had in Asia. The sweet and savory sauces, flavorful pastes, creamy curries, juicy satays, sunny-side up egg yolk dripped dishes, fresh seafood courses still taunt me today. I thought I knew what Thai food tasted like but it wasn’t until this trip that I realized I hadn’t a clue. You. must. go. there. now.
Watching the spirit of Thai dance-drama:
In the evening we decided to keep it classy and watch Thailand’s most spectacular cultural show, Siam Niramit, instead of the highly-aggrandized Calypso Ladyboy show (the cast of whom give real women a run for their money!). While the two hour Siam Niramit show with it’s artistic sets, live animals and colorful costumes was definitely a spectacle, you really have to be into that “sort of thing” to enjoy it. If I could do that night over, I would have definitely picked the ladyboy show. Next time…!
Melting beneath a Thai massage:
To top off the trip, we scheduled private Thai massages (Thai: นวดแผนไทย or นวดแผนโบราณ) at our hotel before hopping on the plane back to HK. Unlike oil or pressure massages, Thai masseuses use a yoga-like stretching technique to pull and wring out muscle aches, knots and soreness. This technique is supposed to stimulate the major “sen” or energy/meridian lines along your body. Whatever it did, it sure knocked me the heck out.
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
48 Oriental Avenue
Bangkok 10500, Thailand
+66 (2) 659 9000