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Bangkok, Thailand | Land of the Golden Buddha

Updated: Apr 25

By now you have probably realized that I love to travel, to see new things and be surrounded by different aromas, sights and sounds than those at home. Every time I watch a movie, I notice the landscape. When I hear of someone's trip to a place unfamiliar to me, I am mesmerized. Both my husband and I shared a desire to go to Southeast Asia for a long time. So, when a trip presented itself at a time when our schedule was empty, at a price-point that wouldn’t cause me angst, we took advantage of the opportunity.

Most of our travels have been done after a lot of research and have been completely self-booked. There have been some exceptions. This trip we benefited from the expertise of a tour company. We had organized tours as well as time on our own to explore and that worked out perfectly for us..

After what seemed like days in an airplane, we finally arrived in Bangkok. Too late for us old folks to do anything, we checked in and passed out.  We didn’t even take photos of the nighttime hubbub.

The following morning we enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast while gazing out of the top floor hotel windows at the city. We then set out on a self-guided tour of Bangkok. Moving a little slowly after the 24 hour journey, my husband had to wait for me. I have a whole portfolio of similar shots from various locations around the world.

I love pomegranate and fresh squeezed juice is sooo good. I could taste just by watching the street vendor squeezing the fruit, Oh well, maybe later.

There is however always a diversion, something to call for your attention.. Maybe later we’ll stop for the sweets and treats at this shop.

We continued walking and it did not take long to come upon a market. I think you could buy almost anything here, from fruits to boots.

Umbrellas and outdoor markets are a thing. I never realized that they were also used in indoor spaces. It almost conveyed the feeling of outside dining.

There are a multitude of beautiful temples and shrines in Bangkok and they are as incredible on the inside as they are on the outside.

While there are Tuk-tuks that carry things, some people go old-school and use push or pull carts

Our afternoon guided tour started with the Wat Samphanthawongsaram Worawihanra (Wat Koh)

While we were transported from one temple to the next via air-conditioned bus, we did a little walking and I could not resist the following photo-capture.

Soon we arrived at the Wat Traimit Wittayaram Worawihan or as westerners like me like to call it, the Temple of the Golden Buddha.

We heard the temples were beyond anything we would have seen in the western hemisphere but we were not prepared to gaze upon a 10 foot tall, 5.5 ton solid gold Buddha. The beautiful Wat Traimit which houses the Buddha, with its gold door frames and architectural accents is breathtaking in itself.

While it is obvious that the Buddha is large in the photo below, it may not be obvious how large. If you look at how small the people relatively near the Buddha are in comparison, the size becomes a little easier to understand. Still unless you are there you can not get this statues impact. One member of our group made a quick calculation of its metal value. At the time, it was over $315 M.

The statue is not only beautiful, it is massive

We learned that this golden Buddha was hidden in concrete in a plain building before the construction of the temple was completed. Later the buddha was brought over, the concrete chipped away, and put where it sits today.

While the building is considered plain by some, that is because it is difficult to compete with a gold statue that measures 15’ tall from its base.

After we left Wat Traimit we headed to Wat Phra. Below is a map insert that shows its location.

Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan location - Google
Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan location - Google Maps
Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan satellite view - Google
Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan satellite view - Google

Next, we entered the Phra Ubosot assembly hall. The Phra Ubosot Assembly Hall dates back to the 18th century and was built under King Rama I. It contains a golden Buddha on an ornate pedestal.

We entered the temple at the time when worshipers and monks were present and so we were not able to stay as long as we would have liked to. But it was a wonderful experience for us.

The next building that we entered had very tall doors with very ornate door frames. So much attention to detail. It is also Bangkok's oldest temple.

Not only are there large solid gold Buddhas in a lotus position, the largest reclining gold Buddha is in the Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan temple complex. Soon we would gaze upon the 46 meter long gold plated reclining Buddha. which represents spiritual enlightenment.

Walking down the hall I finally caught sight of the entire reclining Buddha. I waited and waited and finally took the shot despite the fact that these two gentlemen photobombed me

Like most of the temple complexes that we visited, this complex had stupas which are also known as chedis. These house the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns.

Looking at the photo below you will notice a path around the Stupa.This is so that they can be walked around as part of a devotional practice.

After our Wat Phra visit we went to our last temple of the day, the Wat Benchamabophit Dusitwanaram, located in the Dusit District of Bangkok. This marble temple, built in 1899 has an enormous courtyard, high gables and elaborate finials..

Inside the temple is the  Phra Buddhajinaraja statue

Siddhartha Gautama lived around 600BC and was the founder of what is now known as Buddhism. He was born a wealthy man but gave up his wealth to help the poor and to go on a path of self-enlightenment. While on this path he fasted and became very skinny.

While most depictions of Buddha are if a portly man, this rare example shows the historical skinny Buddha.

Back at the hotel. from the roof top pool and bar we surveyed the area

Soon the sun set and things looked a little different

Equipped with a sheet of paper listing what I don’t eat, we decided to try our luck with street food. Everything looked and smelled so good, but pork fat was in almost everything, and if it wasn't pork fat then it was chicken broth. Even Fish Maw soup seen below contains chicken or pork broth.

We finally found a place that could accommodate my dietary restrictions and dinner was delicious

Fortunately we ate when we did because it didn’t take long for a line to appear

Lots of Woks

Lots of options for food and drink

Three years post covid and a lot of people were still wearing masks. That may seem odd, but  a lot of the outdoor cooking was with charcoal. The air was quite smokey and for many, myself included, the masks filtered out some of that smoke.

When college kids decide to travel, they will try interesting things on a dare. This group had the scorpion challenge and of course the event has to be videoed.

I am not so sure that they found the scorpions to be a tasty treat

Scorpions are not the only unusual fried “delicacy”.  One has a variety of other fried insect choices.

We created a short list of things we wanted to do and places to see on our third and final day in Bangkok

  • Check Out the Chinatown Gate at Odeon Circle.

  • Stop by Wat Mangkon Kamalawat.|Wat Leng Noei Yi |Leng Nei Yee Temple

  • Feast at Chinatown's Street Food Markets.

  • Photograph the Talat Noi Street Art.

  • Stop by So Heng Thai Mansion.

  • Experience a Thai Massage

  • Have a Vegan Meal

Since we were told not to eat too much before a massage we scheduled our two hour massage for the morning. A Swedish or western massage is quite different from a Thai massage. The former consists of long, gliding strokes on the muscles in the direction of the blood circulation. It is very relaxing and feels so soothing. On the other hand, A Thai massage feels so good, when it stops. It could best be described as a combination of yoga and Greco-Roman wrestling. That is to say, there is a lot more stretching, compressing and twisting than one’s body typically experiences. Think of it as a western massage will knead the muscles while a Thai massage will knee them. Having survived, we headed to lunch, with that dietary list in hand.

We did some research and found there was a vegan place around the corner from the hotel

So Vegan​, F2, แอม ไชน่าทาวน์ ห้อง F2-14, 15 Charoen Krung Rd, แขวงป้อมปราบศัตรูพ่าย, Bangkok 10100 - Street food - 3 minute walk from hotel

After lunch, our first stop was the Mangkon Kamalawat, the largest Chinese Buddhist temple in Thailand

Next stop: Chinatown Gate at Odean Circle

Street art is something I enjoy searching for and photo capturing. Talat Noi Street Art in Bangkok was no exception. Here are just a few of the pieces we saw.

I guess I have to hop on the tram I can see my husband waiting for me, again.

A quick stop at the Bhanurangsi Pier

A short walk away another mural

While not on our initial list, the flower market was a place that we were encouraged to see by fellow travelers. It was worth visiting even if we had to dodge several scooters in the pavilion..

The flower market is a nice colorful place to visit.

We passed a very interesting looking building… small but compelling

Adding a few more steps to our walk we went to Saranron Park, a public park that was formerly the gardens of a palace.

Lots of images of royalty in Bangkok

Continuing our walk to the Damrong Sathit Bridge (Saphan Lek), we stopped and looked down. 

Seafood, including shellfish such as mollusks, clams and oysters are part of the Thai diet. Below you can see someone sifting for shellfish

Lots of Greens at the produce market

As you can see we did not follow our list in order. #3 was to sample street food and finally in the evening that happened.

Some of our traveling companions had dinner at the Lek & Rut Seafood and recommended it to us. I had a seafood omelet that was quite good.

And now for dessert

We didn’t hit every place on our ambitious list and we did stop by places that were not listed. Maybe next time we will go to the Stop by So Heng Thai Mansion.

We packed way too many things for our trip. If you travel to Thailand between November and  May, it is the dry season. So, if you wash your clothes at night, they are generally dry by morning. Bangkok, Thailand is near the equator and it is not particularly mountainous and so it does not get cold.  There was no need for my down vest. The only time I wore a sweater was in the bus or at breakfast when the air conditioning made it cold. As far as footwear, a lightweight pair of sneakers (trainers) is all you really need.

I hope you enjoyed your virtual trip to Thailand and that you continue reading about our trip to South East Asia in our next blog segment 

Cambodia | Moving Forward

To see more photos of Bangkok, Thailand

If you missed my previous blog segment: Cefalu | A Seaside Spot

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