Bangkok – First Impressions.
I’ve landed, phase 1 complete. I successfully left Heathrow, had a quick stopover in Dubai and made my way to the Bangkok Centre Hotel (yes I cheated – I got a taxi). If you plan to stay here don’t be lame like me, jump on the train, the hotel’s right next to the MRT station.
So where to head to… well I obviously asked the masses and a number of friends said the Khoa San Road. I headed there and it was everything I imagined it to be… boozed up brits, fast food, bright lights and cheap clothes. I’ll let you decide if that’s your thing, but it probably is a must see if you come here. I nearly bought a Lonely Planet guide for Vietnam but when I took off the cellophane wrapper it was a badly photocopied version inside a genuine looking cover. The people are so lovely and had no issue with me returning it.
In need of a bit of culture I consulted the Lonely Planet website and headed to The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. If you know me you’ll know my sense of direction is shocking. I got very lost, but it can pay to get lost. I wandered into an insanely large shopping mall (MBK), which was pretty interesting and air conditioned (a treat). I finally made it to my destination and was excited to see an exhibition by renowned Thai artist, Professor Chalood Nimsameur. His work spans five decades and much of his work is a celebration of Thai rural life. Probably most impressive was his Mural Painting – wall to wall work with different graphic design influenced work. I also got to see ‘Water of Life’, the 2nd White elephant Art Award exhibition – some really fantastic, huge paintings here and we were allowed to photograph – so check out my Instagram for a taste of the awarded work.
On arrival day I was mortified I hadn’t learnt any Thai. By the morning or day 2 I’d learnt ‘Hello’ (sawadee ka (female) and sawadee krup (male)) and ‘thank you’ (kob kun ka), very basic but they go a long way.
I’m clearly doing well as I’ve been asked if I’m Russian twice so far.
Final day in Bangkok before taking the sleeper train to Chiang Mai tonight. The air is sticky, too hot to walk any distance so jumped on a boat and travelled down the canals (Klongs) getting drenched on the motorised open long boats. Saw lizards the size of crocodiles sunbathing on the banks and fed bread to the giant fish as we passed through basic houses on stilts right next door to ornate temples. Arrived at Wat Pho temple and checked out the largest reclining Buddha (I think) in Thailand. Thai Buddhism isn’t pure it’s influenced by Hinduism and around the temples were statues of Hindu gods like Shiva.
First impressions: Pink Taxis, neon Tuk-Tuks, security checks and metal detectors for every big building, bright lights, smiles, humid air, chillies in every dish, intricate patterns and prints.