36 Hours in Bangkok

After saying goodbye to New Zealand, we were ready to begin the next leg of our adventure, starting with a very brief visit to Bangkok.

Our long journey to the Thai capital included a six hour layover in Melbourne, which gave us chance to enjoy one more of the Australian coffees that we will miss so much. 

It was late evening by the time we arrived in Bangkok, and we quickly found a taxi to take us into the city. Despite witnessing one crash and nearly being involved in another we eventually made it to our hostel safely. 

We were staying just a short walk from the famous backpacker partying district of Koh San Road, and decided to check this out straight away. As we arrived the party was already in full flow, and we wandered along the packed street, dodging tourists, locals, hawkers and market stalls, before stopping for a drink.

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Despite the long journey, the booming music and cheap buckets of vodka drinks had soon woken us up and we decided to stay longer and join the party.

With only one full day in the city, we were keen to see as much of it as possible. We decided the best way to do this would be taking one of the many ferries that travel along the Chao Praya river, which winds its way through the city. 

Given our limited time, we chose to avoid the busy local ferries, and paid a little extra for a full day pass on Blue Flag tourist boat. Starting from Phra Arthit, we travelled down river, seemingly in relative luxury compared to some of the smaller boats we passed. The river was busy with long tail boats squeezing past tug boats pulling huge cargo barges.

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The Thai capital is home to over 14m people, and the city seemed to stretch endlessly into the distance in all directions, with modern skyscrapers towering over grand temples and traditional tin roofed shacks.

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We continued all the way to the final stop at Sathorn before disembarking, ready to explore further by foot. Our route took us inland along the almost gridlocked Sathorn Road. The road is lined with corporate offices, luxury hotels and shopping malls, and the pavement was almost as busy as the road. 

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This took us to Lamphini Park, one of the very few green spaces in central Bangkok. Despite this, the park was almost entirely empty apart from a few fellow tourists. We wandered through several gardens and around the banks of a large lake, spotting a huge Monitor Lizard as we walked.

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We decided against visiting the famous Grand Palace due to the high entry fee. Although only 500 baht (£12), this seemed expensive compared to the cities other attractions.

However we did manage to explore some of the city’s seemingly endless temples. This included the iconic Wat Arun, which towers over its surroundings and was clearly visible as we travelled along the river. The temple dates back to the 17th century, although the 82m tower at its centre was not completed until much later.

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The temple is part of a large complex, and we spent some time wandering the around perfectly manicured gardens, before finding a shaded spot on the banks of the river to escape the sun.

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We took the ferry directly back across the river to Wat Pho, which is home to a huge 46m long reclining Buddha, as well as the country’s largest collection of Buddha images.

Later in the day while visiting Chinatown, we came across Wat Traimit. Although not as grand as some of the other temples, it is best known for the huge Golden Buddha statue that is housed within. The statue was covered in plaster to hide its true value over 200 years ago, and was only rediscovered as recently as 1955 when its covering was accidentally chipped away.

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One of the highlights of Bangkok was definitely the food, with a wide variety of delicious rice and noodle dishes. Our favourite meal of the trip was from the cosy and (most importantly) air-conditioned Sixth 6th which is just a short walk from Wat Pho. We shared a tofu and cashew nut dish, and an ever reliable Pad Thai, which made for a perfect lunch.

We also sampled some of the weird and wonderful street food available from the hawkers than can be found on almost every street. Although everything we tried was great, we avoided some of the more unusual food including scorpions and various insects.

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It was a busy day travelling around the stifling, loud and hectic city, and by the afternoon we were ready to return to our hostel for a much needed rest. It seems that walking 17km in 36 degree heat can be quite exhausting, and we were relieved to make it back to our air-conditioned room.

By the time we headed back out, darkness had set in and it had finally began to cool down. We decided on another trip to Koh San Road, finding a quiet restaurant before enjoying some drinks in another of the booming bars.

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The following morning, we found a nearby bakery for a delicious breakfast, before a far more relaxing taxi to the airport, arriving in plenty of time for our next flight to Malaysia.

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