Thailand: Bangkok

Bangkok is a really interesting place (with great breakfasts).  We were only there for a few days, but I was struck by the juxtaposition of tall skyscrapers and serene temples.  Bangkok (also known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon) is a big, bustling city with a population of more than 8 million.  It’s a popular spot for shopping, as prices are better than most other Asian cities.

And it’s also a gorgeous spot for sightseeing.

We started off by going to see Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.  Even though we’d just seen a video on the plane about how big the Reclining Buddha is, we were amazed by how large it was (43m long!).

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The bottom of the Reclining Buddha’s feet is inlaid with mother of pearl showing the 108 symbols of Buddha.  And a gorgeous mandala in the centre of each foot.  Just beautiful.

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The wall that travels alongside the length of the Reclining Buddha has 108 small bronze bowls.  For about 50 cents (Canadian) you get a bowlful of small coins.  The idea is that you then walk the length of the bowls, and drop a coin into each bowl as a donation to sustain the temple.  I had just finished reading a lovely memoir by a Thai-American who studied philosophy in the US and then went back to Thailand to become a monk for a few months: A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants. The book explained how monks find opportunities to meditate in everyday actions: walking, eating, cleaning.  And so I decided to turn my donations into a meditation.  As I slowly walked past each bowl, I dropped in a coin while thinking of love and compassion.

The temples were repositories of learning — this temple housed the literature on how to do Thai massage on its walls:

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The temple grounds were equally fascinating — I loved the Chinese statues around the perimeter of the temple compound (originally ballast on Chinese trading ships):

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We then headed off to the Grand Palace, which used to be the residence of the King of Thailand.  The temple inside the grounds is the most important in Thailand: Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha).  The Emerald Buddha is actually carved from a single piece of jade, and each season they change its clothes.  It was 38 °C (100 °F) on the day we visited, and the Emerald Buddha was still wearing his golden winter clothes!

On the way into the palace grounds, there are vendors lined up waiting to sell you something cool and refreshing — fresh fruit:

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soft drinks:

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and young coconuts with a straw for the coconut water inside:

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And tuk-tuks ready to take you to your next destination:

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Once inside the complex it’s nothing but beautiful & ornate buildings:

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Beautiful stupas:

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And a statue garden that showed many yoga poses:

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I loved seeing the live lotus flowers (a Buddhist symbol for purity):

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In one section of the complex were a number of Buddha statues, collected from all over Thailand and kept on the palace grounds to keep them safe:

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That afternoon we had a break at the hotel.  There were live musicians:

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Lots of fresh orchids to practice your macro settings on:

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And whisky sours served with chocolate truffles:

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For one of our nights in Bangkok, we stayed in and had dinner at the hotel.  Rice and curry is served separately, and when they asked if I wanted to try all 4 colours of rice, how could I refuse?

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The green one was pandan leaf rice, the yellow was saffron rice, the white was jasmine rice, and the brown was brown rice.

And it was all delicious and a great base for my spicy green curry with lots of veggies and some tofu:

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One of the things I really loved about green curry in Thailand (as opposed to green curry here at home) is that each vegetable still tasted distinctly like the vegetable it was.  Here at home, green curried veggies can taste just like homogenous stuff in green curry. Each vegetable was cooked perfectly — closer to raw than cooked, with lots of delicious crunch.  Most green curries (and in fact most dishes) in Thailand use a few non-vegetarian ingredients: fish sauce, shrimp paste, and/or oyster sauce.  But if you explain your vegetarian food restrictions, they’ll leave it out and you can focus on some beautiful veggie-friendly flavours: garlic, basil, galangal, ginger, and coconut milk.

We were also lucky to have dinner one night on a dinner cruise boat on the river — we were served delicious food.

We started with miang kham, piper leaves filled with lots of delicious things and eaten in one bite.  Our veggie miang kham were filled with shallots, garlic, roasted peanuts, chilies, lime, and plum sauce.  I asked our guide what they were called and he explained that “miang kham” means “one bite” — how perfect!  I told him all about the amuse bouche (one-bite hors d’oeuvres) served before a meal at French restaurants and we had a great moment learning about each other’s first-bite cultures!

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We then had wonderful veggie spring rolls, and a glorious pomelo salad:

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Then some veggie stirfries (greens and mushrooms = happy Linz):

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And for dessert, my new favourite thing — sticky rice with mango!

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It was tough to get good shots of the food, so I stuck to the scenery instead.  It was just wonderful to see the sites we’d seen during the day lit up at night — the Grand Palace looked like it just glowed from within:

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The Rama VIII suspension bridge was even more lovely at night than during the day:

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And as we returned to Bangkok, it was a shock to see skyscrapers again!

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Bangkok, I love you.

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Categories: Travel

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9 Comments on “Thailand: Bangkok”

  1. Shaun
    March 28, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Gorgeous shots! And they made me hungry!

    • March 29, 2013 at 12:06 am #

      Thanks, Shaun.

      I know a number of folks who have said they can’t read my blog when they are hungry 😉

  2. Monika
    March 29, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Thank you Lindsay
    I just feel like I’ve been on a holiday!
    How refreshing and enlightening.
    Monika

  3. March 29, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    Bangkok love you long time too. 🙂

  4. April 1, 2013 at 2:40 am #

    Glad you loved Bangkok so much, fantastic pictures 🙂 we were only meant to be here three days and are now planning to stay three months!

  5. October 22, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Heya just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly.

    I’m nnot sure why but I think its a linkiing issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show
    the same results.

    • October 22, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

      Thanks for the heads up — I think there are just too many photos in the post… I had a similar problem and then checked the links and reloaded the page and it was fine.

      If any photos are missing you can click on the name of the photo and it will show it to you in a new browser tab/window.

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