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Published: February 6th 2013
So it turns out that blogging while travelling is harder than I first thought. Must try harder. For the sake of my memory and trying to keep things clear I will blog location by location so first up - it's Bangkok.
Bangkok can be covered by three h's, namely hot, humid and hectic. It's a somewhat overwhelming introduction to Asia, but there are some gems to discover. One of the biggest of these gems is travelling the river by local taxi-boats, which ply their trade up and down the Chao Phraya and give you a breather from the traffic and the heat. Not that the river is a calm place to be, oh no. Taxi boats compete with the more expensive tourist boats and the longtail cruises, while other taxi boats cross the river at odds with the rest of the traffic flow. It's completely mad but it's a madness that somehow works, and it's also very hypnotic to watch if you climb to the top of the tranquil Wat Arun on the riverside.
Temples are abundant in Bangkok, and it is very easy to become fatigued by the sight of yet another golden dome covered in bells and images of the buddha. However, it is worth going to The Grand Palace, as long as you are not expecting to have the place to yourself. Originally built as a private royal temple, this is now the holiest site in the country and they are very strict about what clothes you can wear. Luckily you can rent fetching (ahem) pink shirts nearby. Wat Pho is next to the Grand Palace and offers authentic Thai massages, as opposed to the ones tailored to falang
tastes elsewhere. A word of warning - these massages are not for the faint-hearted as they are seen as medicinal and not for pleasure. At some point your life will flash before your eyes as a sadistically cheerful Thai man twists your back into unthinkable positions and makes bones crunch where you didn't even know you had bones. I was limping for days.
Nightlife in Bangkok is as hectic as the day, particularly around the infamous Ko San Road where you can hear Justin Bieber and the ever-present Gangnam Style pumping out of tired speakers, but there are other places to escape to if that is not your taste (and I hope for your sake that it isn't). The Blues Bar, just 10 minutes from Ko San Road is excellent - live music from a mixed expat/local band and great cocktails. If you want something completely different from your night, head to the Mahachulalongkorn University. The Rough Guide promises that this holds evening talks in English on Buddhism. This is not true. However, we found a bemused but friendly monk to chat too end ended up leaving with several books each on Buddhism.
So Bangkok is mad and, having travelled through the north, not a reflection on the rest of Thailand. It is crazy, and fun if you embrace the madness. And a final piece of advice - just accept that you will be sweaty the entire time. It's easier that way.
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