Or, gold, gold, and a bit more gold
19.12.2013 - 23.12.2013 30 °C
In the latest of our South East Asian wanderings we have just spent a mesmerising and brilliant 4 days in Bangkok. For a city so close to Vietnam it is a world away in terms of culture and atmosphere and it was an absolute joy to explore it’s numerous sights and experience it’s chaos and vitality.
Bangkok is a city of bling. There is gold everywhere. Many of the temples and wats are covered in gold and the royal palaces are bedecked with the stuff. We visited the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo, both of which were visually stunning (even for anti-Royalists like us!) and we managed to see all 66cm of the Emerald Buddha, which is regarded as Thailand’s holiest image. The architecture and colours that adorn the buildings were absolutely beautiful and it is extraordinary to witness just how highly worshiped the royal family are. Next door to the Grand Palace is Wat Pho which houses the country’s longest reclining Buddha. Now, I don’t know about you but I’m rather fond of a reclining Buddha and this (gold!!!) one is particularly impressive, measuring a whacking great 46 metres in length with rather neat mother of pearl feet. Wat Arun, across the river, has a more obvious Khmer influence and is adorned with porcelain figures and motifs. It’s a splendid, if steep, climb up but well worth it. To finish off the royal and religious buildings we visited Dusit Park that houses Vimanmek Palace, a royal residence and possibly the largest teak building in the world, and constructed without the use of a single nail. It’s pretty impressive. Not quite as big, but equally exciting is Jim Thompson’s house. He is credited with re-establishing Thailand’s ailing silk industry as well as designing his own traditional Thai house. It is absolutely stunning and extremely peaceful considering it is situated in the downtown hub of the city.
Bangkok is also a shopping mecca (apparently, though I’m not an expert on such things) and as well as a number of massive shopping malls there is also Chatuchak weekend market – it is absolutely enormous, with over 15000 stalls but it is just a lovely place to spend a few hours wandering around and perusing everything Thai. And, unlike the markets in Ho Chi Minh City, no one hassles you and it is just very easy going. It was terrific. Throw in a bit of modern art, a cinema, ferry trips, canal cruises, tuk tuk rides, political demonstrations, a decent foot massage, delicious food, and lovely people and you have four days of wonderful enjoyment and relaxation. It’s a city we will definitely come back to!
All that remains is to wish you all a very happy new year (Chuc Mung Nam Moi) and we hope that 2014 is good to you all. Thanks for following us this year and we’ll see what places we find ourselves in in 2014.