Big city magic: Bangkok

Rumour has it that Bangkok is a city you either love or hate. It is a world city with modern malls and high-rise buildings, busy markets and claustrophobic alleyways, pollution and heavy traffic congestion, magnificent temples and palaces, vibrant and naughty nightlife and fantastic food. In Bangkok modernity and tradition coexist side by side. From the moment we left the airport we were surrounded by an orgy of smells, sounds, lights, heat and of course the world-famous Thai smiles.

definitely not a small town

definitely not a small town

traffic in Bangkok

Bangkok is a modern city with modern city problems – trafic…

busy street

…and crowds

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Chinatown

Chinatown

The Grand Palace and the nearby Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) are among Bangkok’s major tourist attractions…

IMG_6542IMG_6500…the details of the buildings are really amazing and the workmanship is truly impressive…

IMG_6507IMG_6505…but, as any respecting tourist attraction the area is filled with picture snapping tourists.

Wat Phra Kaew - a very crowded tourist attraction

Wat Phra Kaew – a very crowded tourist attraction

Bangkok has many beautiful temples. Directly adjacent to the Grand Palace complex is Wat Pho – the largest and oldest temple in Bangkok, and home to Thailand’s largest Reclining Buddha.
the statue is 15 m tall

the statue is 15 m high

Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

and 43 m long

While easily the most impressive, the Reclining Buddha is only one of more than a 1000 Buddha images on the temple grounds.

1000 statuesThere seem to be (slightly) fewer tourists here than at Wat Phra Kaew and the details of the buildings are equally amazing.

IMG_6459IMG_6480Another popular tourist attraction beautiful temple in Bangkok is Wat Traimit – home to the world’s largest solid gold Buddha statue.

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inside Wat TraimitBangkok used to be called ‘Venice of the East’. And while most Bangkok canals have been filled in and converted into streets, the muddy Chao Phraya river is still the heart of the city, and a welcome escape from the choking streets, with express boats and water taxis providing best and quickest form of transportation to sights such as the Grand Palace and Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn).

Chao Phraya River with Wat Arun in the background

a longtail boat on Chao Phraya River with Wat Arun in the background

water taxi speeding on a canal

water taxi speeding on a canal

After all the sightseeing we felt that we needed to escape the tuk tuks, traffic and crowds, and relax for a while. Luckily Bangkok has a perfect place to do it – amidst the chaos of the city is a patch of green known as the Lumphini Park. As soon as we entered, we noticed how the noise and smog disappeared, and our heart-rates slowed down as we wandered among well-marked pathways, observing white swan-boats on the lake and monitor lizards lounging on the grass.

    rare splash of greenery in the concrete jungle and an oasis of calm and relaxation

rare splash of greenery in the concrete jungle and an oasis of calm and relaxation

We also tried the free, open-air, public gym.

Bench press Bangkok style - in Lumphini park

Bench press Bangkok style – in Lumphini park

After training muscles need fuel – and Bangkok is a perfect place to be hungry. No matter where you are in the city, it seems you’re never more than a few steps away from amazingly cheap and delicious street food.

what more can a hungry, chilli loving stomach desire?

noodle soup – what more can a hungry, chilli loving stomach desire?

Masterchef at work

Masterchef at work

and don't forget dessert...

and don’t forget dessert…

Bangkok is an assault on the senses. It is big, loud and chaotic. And hot. Very hot (apparently Bangkok is one of the hottest cities in the world). So hot that during that first visit, after exploring the city for a few days (and realizing we had barely scratched the surface), we decided to move north to cool down a bit, while pledging to come back and explore more later on.

It is an enchanting city if you can look past the crowds, noise and uneven pavements. And already during our second visit we found ourselves falling in love with the diversity, the energy, the beat of the city, and most of all –  the people. The third visit felt like coming home. Because Bangkok is never dull or boring – no matter how many times you go, you can always find somewhere new to explore and something new to do – come rain or shine it is a magical place to be.

and by the way:

Even in Thailand we couldn't escape the fox...

even in Thailand we couldn’t escape the fox…

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