Yes, I've been to Thailand specifically in Bangkok many times and when some people tell me they hate the city for some reason, uhmm well, I understand. My first visit to Bangkok more than a decade ago, is not as exciting as expected when you're first timer as I only get there for some R&R and sometimes to experience the chaotic streets at night (red light district), that's how I know Bangkok. Unlike the ordinary tourist who wants to wake up early morning to see how the streets looks like and find the best place to eat Pad Thai or Tom Yum for lunch, is the hotel near MTR, BTS or walking distance where you can reach tuk tuk so you can easily goes anywhere for shopping. (Tuk tuk or 'sam lor' (three-wheeled) used to be everyone's favorite way of getting around Bangkok before the BTS, MRT and colorful taxis took over).
Bangkok is not a city that opens itself up easily, and most people spend just a day or two before leaving to go to the islands or the jungle or to neighbor countries like Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Vietnam. If you're a tourist you may not need tons of time to “see” the city, Bangkok has more than a few days’ worth of temples and activities, what more if you're a photographer and a travel enthusiast... like us. =)
This city may not have lot of “tourist attractions” it is actually quite boring if you ask me – this is a place to wander, eat, shop and imbibe. It doesn’t have to be a love-it-or-hate-it city but it is worth seeing.
Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of the Kingdom of Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep. The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres (605.7 sq mi) in the Chao Phraya River delta in Central Thailand, and has a population of over 8 million, or 12.6 percent of the country's population. Over 14 million people (22.2 percent) live within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region, making Bangkok an extreme primate city, significantly dwarfing Thailand's other urban centres in terms of importance.
Bangkok traces its roots to a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century, which eventually grew and became the site of two capital cities: Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782. Bangkok was at the heart of the modernization of Siam, later renamed Thailand, during the late 19th century, as the country faced pressures from the West. The city was at the centre of Thailand's political struggles throughout the 20th century, as the country abolished absolute monarchy, adopted constitutional rule and underwent numerous coups and several uprisings. The city grew rapidly during the 1960s through the 1980s and now exerts a significant impact on Thailand's politics, economy, education, media and modern society.
Credit Text: Wikipedia
Grand Palace Architecture
Some intricate wall paintings inside Wat Pho
Your Bangkok trip isn't complete without the spectacular Grand Palace, undoubtedly the city's most famous landmark. Built in 1782 - and for 150 years the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government - the Grand Palace of Bangkok is a grand old dame indeed, that continues to have visitors in awe with its beautiful architecture and intricate detail, all of which is a proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of Thai people. Within its walls were also the Thai war ministry, state departments, and even the mint. Today, the complex remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom.
Chao Phraya River, Thai Mae Nam Chao Phraya, also called Maenam, principal river of Thailand. It flows south through the nation’s fertile central plain for more than 225 miles (365 km) to the Gulf of Thailand. Thailand’s capitals, past and present (Bangkok), have all been situated on its banks or those of its tributaries and distributaries, as are many other cities.
Bangkok Flower Market (Pak Klong Talad) is the biggest wholesale and retail fresh flower market in Bangkok. The market has all kinds of popular flowers and flora-related items, including roses, forget me nots, orchids, lilies and more. Most of them sold in packs of 50 or 100 flowers in each, and prices are amazingly cheap. Part of the Old City, Bangkok Flower market is located on Chak Phet Road near Saphan Phut or the Memorial Bridge. Shops and vendors are housed inside two to three-storey shop-houses on both sides of the main road. The market lies just south of Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and has access to a river pier, so it makes for a great one-day trip when combined with other historical attractions in the Old City.
On our last day in Bangkok, after our long and exciting journey up north, with some good food and relaxing Thai massage we went to visit the House of Jim Thompson near National Stadium, BTS Station. If you happen to drop by here one day, never miss to take the tour inside the museum, you'll never regret it.
Jim Thompson House - The lovely garden-enclosed compound sitting on the bank of the Saen Saeb Canal would have gone completely unnoticed, had it not been for a legacy left behind by a middle-aged American man named Jim Thompson. His elegant residential enclave, comprising six traditional Thai teakwood houses transported from Ayutthaya and Bangkok’s Ban Krua community, echoes Jim Thompson’s 30-year love affair with Southeast Asian art and cultural heritage.
In the shadow of surrounding trees, the house’s inconspicuous façade belies a tastefully decked entry foyer, itself an unconventional architectural feature in traditional Thai houses and a preamble to Jim Thompson’s signature East-meets-West style permeating throughout the house.
An architect by training and an avid collector of Asian objets d’art, Jim Thompson’s keen eyes and flair for design breathed life into everything he touched. After his discharge from military service in 1946, Jim Thompson decided to settle down in Thailand, where he dedicated over 30 years to reviving Thai silk – then a dying cottage industry – and introduced it to the world’s most respectable fashion houses and catwalks in Paris, New York, London and Milan.
The same goes for his Thai house, which was no ordinary teakwood villa complex filled with incongruous collections of antiques, but a breathing museum – even then – that embodies Jim Thompson’s life-long passion and whimsical design choices. One day in 1967, while at the height of his success, he mysteriously disappeared into the Malaysian jungle, and thus began the legacy of Jim Thompson…
The Silk maker at Jim Thompson House
As you wander from one room to the next, you can’t help but admire Jim Thompson’s thoughtful eclecticism and meticulous attention to details. His sophisticated taste and in-depth knowledge of Southeast Asian art shine through the rare antique and art collections placed tastefully in each room that enrich the overall ambience, rather than just show off his wealth.
While respecting local traditions and customs, he was no slave to them either. The staircase and bathrooms are found indoors, rather than outdoors as you would normally find in traditional Thai homes. Satellite houses, which normally would be linked through an open courtyard area, are all grouped under one roof with a covered walkway. And the decorative window panels, which traditionally face outwards, face in. Jim Thompson’s skillful adaptation of the local style to suit his western upbringing was years ahead of its time, rendering a timeless twist to what would otherwise be labeled as ‘classic’ or simply ‘colonial’.
Text Credit: Bangkok.com
Finally, now I would say that i've been there and done that. Truly there’s more to Bangkok than just food, shopping, night life and of course... traffic! Bangkok is a city whose charm emerges slowly, so the next time you step in here make sure you spend few more days to explore and see it for yourself. =)
Check back soon for my next post of our 8D/7N Thailand Photo Tour crossing Myanmar border and visiting the Karen Long Neck Hill tribe in Chiang Rai and more.