Exactly a year ago, I had a short getaway to Thailand. Travelling on New Year’s Day was cheap, but little did I expect that there would be a massive flood in Jakarta that submerged the city railway system and the inner city toll road. Luckily I managed to get a Go-car to the airport and took the flight to Bangkok.
Bangkok was pretty quiet because of the New Year’s holiday, and we had quite a lazy holiday – spending most of the mornings watching TharnType the series and only leaving our Airbnb apartment at 11 or around midday. The apartment was nice and clean, but it was on the outskirts of Bangkok so it took us at least an hour by car to get to the city centre.
In the first three days, we mostly took public transports to get around. Buses, BTS, MRT, and even boats. It was also my first time taking the boat along the famous Chao Phraya river. The buses looked very old – they even still had wooden flooring – but they were clean and seemed much safer than the Jakarta’s Metro Mini and Kopaja. Both the buses and boats still used paper tickets, while the BTS and MRT used cards and chips.
Thailand is very famous for its street food, and we both liked the fresh fruits that we could easily buy from the street vendors. We also had a nice lunch of omelette where we could choose our own toppings.
On the first day, Maul and I strolled around Siam Square, Memorial Bridge, and (the not-so-fantastic) Asiatique.
Malls in Siam Square are huge and they were connected to one another with a pedestrian skywalk. Some of the malls looked more high-end than the others, and Siam Discovery, for example, looked quite posh that as if the customers were curated like a gallery collection. Everyone seemed to look fancy and rich. The highlight of Siam Discovery for me was Loft, a Japanese stationery shop. For stationery freaks like me and my sister, this was the place that we could easily lose track of time…
The skywalk was a sight of its own with large green circle tiles and parasols. I went there again a few days later in the evening and it was decorated with gigantic light balls and a huge Christmas tree with origami fishes.
We went to Chinatown by boat but when we got there everything was closed because of the New Year’s holiday. So we had a walk across the Memorial Bridge before we took a boat again to Asiatique.
I had seen Asiatique in many photos but it turned out to be not so impressive. The iconic Ferris wheel was nothing special and the food was expensive. Well, at least we got to see a glimpse of the red sky at dusk…
I went to the Grand Palace in the afternoon and was just in time for a free group tour, although I silently left the group tour afterwards and decided to wander around on my own.
The first part of the complex was the Wat Phra Kew, a temple complex. There were golden bell-like stupas and intricately-carved buildings that looked so well-lit under the bright blue sky. The most important building in the complex was the ordination hall where the famous Emerald Buddha was kept (unfortunately we could not take photos or videos inside).
The next part was the murals of the Ramakian. It tells the story of Ramayana, and it covered the inner wall of the temple complex. Some of the drawings were nice, with gold paints and it gave a very bright colour when the sun was shining on them. I particularly like the drawings of Hanuman and his monkey troops, as well as the people playing music and drinking tea.
I left the temple complex and went into the palace complex but it was not that impressive. The palace was not open to the public, and it was only used for royal ceremonies. The royal palace looked more like a crossing between France’s Versailles Palace and the Thai Royal Palace.
Around the complex, I was fascinated by the statues of the animals, chimeras, and giants who usually guard the entrances. There was a couple of donkey statues that faced backwards, gigantic yakshas, and lions.
Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre
Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre is a huge 9-storey building in the heart of Bangkok and it accommodates all sorts of exhibitions and cultural events.
From the first floor, all the way up to the seventh floor were art shops as well as small galleries and exhibition halls.
On the 8th and 9th floor, there was a big exhibition called “Spectrosynthesis II – Exposure of Tolerance: LGBTQ in Southeast Asia“. It was a multimedia exhibition – from photography to painting to art installation, all within the theme of LGBTQ in Southeast Asia. Many of the photography works were so good, they were poetic as well as eye-opening. And there were Yoppy’s works on transgender boarding school as well!
Some highlights from the exhibition:
Day 3: Chatuchak
Chatuchak is a very popular market and was once the biggest traditional market in Southeast Asia. Not only that one can find all kinds of Thai food, but also souvenirs and even clothes.
When we arrived at Chatuchak we had not had breakfast yet so I was very hungry and bought a pack of 12 fried quill eggs (yes, twelve!) for “snacks”. Not long after that, we had a Thai lunch of pad thai and sautéed water spinach. Later we had coconut ice cream with coconut water and nata de coco. Yum!
Chatuchak is a great place to look for “oleh-oleh” (ie. souvenirs), so I bought some dried fruits and little souvenirs for family and friends:
Anyway, I was very much surprised that Chatuchak is very, very clean. You could barely see any litter on the ground, unlike if you are going to the old Blok M market. As a matter of fact, I found Bangkok a very clean city.