We've got two months in South East Asia before the perma-trip ends and reality makes a return appearance on my horizon. Bangkok is our base of operations. Getting here was no small feat, since our last experience in India, true to form, involved tears and screaming and left us $600 poorer. 4 hours later I found myself in an air-conditioned taxi, that used its meter without a 10 minute melodrama driving on a ...wait for it ... three lane highway! We're not in India anymore Toto.
We settled into the backpacker mothership that is Khao San for three nights of noodles, Chang, and trendy t-shirt shopping.After five months of travel in Europe and India, one of the most exciting things about arriving in Thailand was the chance to eat some foods I've been missing. Pork buns (banh bao) were high on the list, along with green curries, fried noodles, and Milo. Bangkok boasts an amazing variety of street foods. I recommend grilled bananas:Taro custard filled waffles:Puffed rice cakes with caramel:Wonton soup:And candied fruits:Not to worry, we pulled ourselves away from the food markets long enough to see Bangkok's sights, namely Wat Phra Kaew, the Grand Palace, and Wat Pho. Wat Phra Kaew is home to the Emerald Buddha (no pictures allowed) and a stunning array of tiled and gold-leafed structures. Here you can see visitors blessing themselves with lotus blossoms before entering the Wat:
The temple complex also contains murals depicting among other things, this guy eating/protecting his flock:One of my favorite items were these statues of Ramayana dancers. We saw a traditional Ramayana performance a week ago and these costumes are no exaggeration: the real deal looks identical to these models. Wat Phra Kaew held up in comparison to the more famous temple sites I've visited in Cambodia and Bali. Definitely exceeded my expectations for a city I had heard described as a major metropolis or a bustling travel hub, but not as a cultural destination.
The Grand Palace shares its grounds but not its architectural signatures with Wat Phra Kaew. Unlike the temple, the palace has decidely Western roots beneath its traditionally Thai embellishments:
The other major stop in Bangkok is the temple complex at Wat Pho. The main attraction is the enormous reclining buddha, though truth be told, the buildings themselves along with other statues and works on the site were more fun:)
Visiting Bangkok now, it's hard to believe that protestors held the government (and the airport) hostage just a few months ago. We visited what remains of the protestors encamped at Sanam Luang and found the park mostly bulldozed over, the protestors half-heartedly selling t-shirts, and the majority of folks more interested in pick-up games of Ta Kraw than politics.xoxo Jessie