Bangkok. Wow. I didn’t know what to expect. The city has a legend which proceeds it, and I wasn’t sure what we were getting ourselves into. We arrived by bus from Laos late at night and got a cab to our hostel. Usually we would try to use public transportation and save a couple of dollars. But it was late, really late, and we didn’t want to risk anything in a new city.
Our cab ride was easily 30 minutes. I nervously watched the meter (as I have a habit of doing). It didn’t seem to move very fast. I second checked the exchange rate, and then checked it again. Yep still 30 baht to 1 USD. We arrived at our hotel and the meter was at 70 baht! 2 dollars and some change for a 30 minute cab ride? What a deal! You have got to be kidding me.
Leah had booked our hostel so she had the directions all written down. It was a test of faith for me and navigation for Leah as she lead us through dimly lit alleys. We twisted and turned countless times. Without backtracking one step we arrived at our hostel. I was impressed.
We stayed in the new town of Bangkok. It is ultra modern city with a high-speed, air-conditioned metro system to rival any in the world. The shopping malls by our hostel were opulent; think Lamborghini dealerships, countless jewelry stores, designer handbag stores, and posh cupcakeries. This is like Michigan Ave in Chicago, just with tropical plants, a relentless sun, and ladyboys. Ok, not that many ladyboys but more than you’d see in Chicago. (even in Boystown)
This city had all the modern conveniences I would ever need. I could live in Bangkok, and an hour into the day Leah and I were talking about it. Modern city, great wages, cheap accommodations, warm weather… perfect. We loved the new city, but we wanted old city. We wanted chaos, street vendors blocking the street and unidentifiable foods…
Time for Chinatown!
I love the scooter driver in the picture. I’m having a hard time walking down this path. Meanwile, he is riding around in a scooter with a crazy look on his face.
Fish anyone? This is what I love about Asia. The markets! Look at all fish in the wooden baskets! And the cute old lady selling them.
What’s next? you never know here! How about a bucket of eels?
No? Ok fist sized bugs?
Haha yes. This is what I envisioned Bangkok to be. Not ultra modern like by our hostel. I don’t want to see Mercedes, skyscrapers, and Louis Vuitton. I want to see eels, fish in baskets, and bugs.
I took this picture for my brother. He loves working on cars. Thought he’s get a kick out of this auto parts store.
The main reason we went to Chinatown, or the reason I used to convince Leah to go to Chinatown was a Golden Buddha. Ladies love gold, not stinky fish, eels and bugs.
The chinese merchants in Bangkok were a huge economic force in the city. They were responsible for moving goods between China and Bangkok. They amassed huge fortunes and made an impressive golden buddha. In the Golden Buddha exhibit there were life-like wax statues of old chinese merchants. Here is one of my favorites, a man painting chinese lanterns.
And the Golden Buddha. 5.5 tons of solid gold! Crazy! It was hard to capture the size of the statue in a picture. It was massive. It was impressive.
We stopped at one more pagoda on our way back to the hostel. It was just one we saw on the side of the street, wasn’t on our map or in our book.
Colorful ribbons were tied around a tree by the entrance.
There was a guy sitting by the pagoda. We asked him if we could look around and he didn’t seem to care. So we started to explore.
Immaculate doors with images encrusted in gold leaf parted to reveal a divine room.
Floor to ceiling the walls were covered in gold leaf etchings. The details were so delicate. Here is a panoramic of the main room.
Only one day in Bangkok and we were exhausted. We couldn’t wait to fall asleep to recharge the batteries and see what the next day had in store for us. The anticipation for the next day’s discoveries was almost as tiring as this day’s trips.
2012-3-12 BangkokCheck out all our photos! Click on any photo to see a larger image.