Well...Bangkok was a bit of a culture shock after Dubai! From an extremely wealthy City to a poor one.
We arrived at night and thought we would be able to find out hotel by ourselves...after an hour or so we gave in and got a taxi. (Turns out even the taxi drivers were a bit confused by the location of our hostel, but we got there in the end!) We had a very warm welcome from the staff and checked into a clean and basic room.
Bangkok is very busy, crowded and hot. There are street stalls selling food every few metres down the road. Plastic tables and chairs are set up along the pavements for people to eat at. You even see smartly dressed buisiness people sitting at them. The food is delicious! On our first evening we ate a main course each with rice and two drinks for 1pound each!
We spent a week exploring the City of Bangkok. We were amazed to see how diverse the city was. Our hostel was in the suburbs where it was very rare to bump into a tourist. Often you had trouble ordering food or buying something in a
shop because of the extreme language barrier (You couldn't even attempt to read Thai if you tried! The only exception is well known brands like coca-cola, where you recognise the colour and font!) We enjoyed having a more authentic stay in Bangkok as opposed to some of the areas where you might as well be in (dare in say it...Magaluf!)
The main city centre has a mixture of upmarket shopping centres, western restaurants and shops. There are still street vendors everywhere you look! We chose to avoid the rows of Starbucks/McDonalds etc. and opted to eat at a little cafe. The food was SO spicy! So I am trying to learn the phrase "mild please!" incase it happens again! I guess that is what happens when you have no idea what you are ordering!
We went to a temple called "Wat Pho" which houses the reclining Buddha, a 46m long x 15m high gold statue. Despite being told how huge it was beforehand, it still made us all stand in awe! It was beautiful. We walked around the grounds of the temple where so many stunning buildings were, all guarded by stone statues of dragon like creatures with
We went to the famous weekend market, which was absolutely MASSIVE! (way bigger than Saffron Walden!) The stalls were all down little alley ways, it was like a maze. Everywhere you went you stumbled across something new and amazing to look at. They sold EVERYTHING!...Clothes, shoes, food, furniture, jewlery, souvineers, puppies!! etc.. The puppies were in tiny cages and they all looked so lethargic, I wanted to buy them all! There were a lot of opportunities for bartering (we're getting better at it!) and so many things we could have bought if we had empty back packs!
We had a ride in a tuk-tuk, which was an exciting, yet scary experience! The driver weaved in and out of the traffic and undertook everyone! It was great fun for a short distance!
There are lots of people on the streets who want you to use their taxi, or stay in their guesthouse or buy something from them. I never really felt intimidated by them though or pushed into anything. I just ignore the people I don't need anything from! At one point we saw a man with a HUGE snake around his neck just standing in the
...ready to be cooked
street! We stopped to take photos and the man thought it would be amusing to put the snake around my neck! I was scared but managed to pose for a photo! He then did the same to Will and EJ! He tried to charge us lots of money for taking photos but we argued that we didn't want to hold the snake in the first place and pretended to delete the photos. He eventually (very reluctantly) backed down!
To summarise Bangkok, I would say that it is very busy, congested and smoggy! There were some really nice aspects, like the amazing temples and beautiful architecture; the lovely people at our hostel; the clean and fast sky trains and the delicious food!... All in all I think it is a good place to stop over on your way to travelling somewhere. For a few days (if you can handle the chaos!) it can be a really interesting, cultural, exciting experience!
We are going to head back for a few days before EJ flies home to visit the Grand Palace and go to the HUGE weekend market!...but for now, its a 16hour train journey up North to Chiang Mai!!
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