Finally Made It To Bangkok!
After years of being at the top of my list of places I want to visit, I finally made it to Bangkok! It was nothing like I imagined it to be, but it was amazing for a myriad of other reasons. I stayed behind Khao San Road, which was a nice area with a lot of street food and things to do, but it was extremely loud. A few streets over probably would have been the best option as far as getting a good night's sleep.
On my first day in Bangkok, I went to visit the King's Palace. I wasn't sure what I was in for, but it was incredibly stunning. There was a seemingly infinite array of gorgeous mosaic work throughout the grounds, beautiful murals, lovely statues, and loads of gold leafing. As it turns out, the palace is more for ceremonial events these days, but past kings did reside there until 1925. It was honestly one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to and is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Bangkok.
The following day, I took a tour outside of town to visit both the railway market and the floating market. I had not previously heard of the railway market, but it was really interesting. Vendors share their wares right on the train tracks until the train starts to come through, at which point everyone pulls their goods out of the way, shut their canopies, and presses back to the edges of the tracks to narrowly avoid being hit by the train. The floating market was absolutely lovely and something I had been looking forward to. In this market, vendors sell their wares from boats along a canal. These ladies mostly sell delicious food, and you can buy it from either the edges of the canal or take a boat yourself.
On my fourth day in Bangkok, I went to a Thai cooking class and learned how to make many delicious Thai dishes. Chef Leez did a great job teaching us how to use traditional local ingredients to make Thai classics like pad thai, green curry, red curry, papaya salad, and numerous other foods. I wasn't sure how I would feel about taking a cooking class, but I enjoyed it a lot. My only complaint is that the portions definitely could have been bigger because it was so delicious!
The next day, I attended a Khon masked dance show, which I had gotten a free ticket to upon visiting the Grand Palace. Although I wasn't allowed to take videos, I was able to get some nice photographs of the beautiful masked dancers. Since it was raining, I spent the rest of the day visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art, which turned out to be a great idea. I was thrilled to discover that they had a Banksy exhibit, which I really enjoyed because of its deeper meanings and political undertones. I also discovered some amazing new artists I really enjoyed, such as Prateep Kochabua and Chalermchai Kositpipat.
Another really fun thing that is an absolute must-do in Bangkok is the dinner cruise. I opted to go on the Chao Phraya Princess cruise from Iconsiam. Iconsiam itself is an incredible mall, the likes of which I've never seen. The downstairs area has little restaurants in small enclosed buildings in a whimsical wonderland with boats, a mini lake, and sculptures. The entire mall had very cool, artistic areas like this. It was its own beautiful and interesting world. From this mall, I took the dinner cruise down the Chao Phraya River. The food was good and the entertainment was great as we got a nighttime city tour via boat.
On my final day in Bangkok, I took a bike ride through Bangkok's green lung, a beautiful green space in the city with trails. I went with my friend Helen who I met in Chiang Mai, so it was really lovely to get to see her and spend some time doing something more in nature. Bang Kachao was a very interesting part of the city, with houses along a tiny lane and canals and lakes all around. There was an interesting Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery there as well, although the conditions for the fish could have been better. I definitely recommend taking the shuttle to the Bangkachao Pier and doing a bike tour.
Overall, Bangkok was not the super modern megacity I imagined, but it was amazing nonetheless. With its amazing street food, stunning temples, the world's best mall, and beautiful green spaces, it is definitely worth checking out.