The Magical City of Bangkok
When we first arrived in Bangkok, it was 1:30am. Honestly, it was the best time to arrive, we nibbled on delicious room service Thai food and went straight to bed. In the morning, the sunlight adjusted our inner clocks and we were off exploring. I highly recommend ‘earthing‘ after a long trip, it certainly helped me. Staying grounded is so important whether traveling or being home. You can learn more about it in link I attached.
If markets are your thing, and they certainly are mine, be sure to find out when they are. Many are on weekends only, so plan your trip accordingly so you don’t miss it. They are overwhelmingly exciting to experience, from aromas of delicious foods, to vibrant colors, textures, Buddhas, jewelry, embroidered handbags and more!My favorite thing to shop for were the amulets. Little charms of deities encased in a clear casing in various metals. I bought several Buddhas and a Ganesh. I just love them! You can also find the amulet market on the streets too. I included a link with area and address for you. I highly recommend a stop there for sure if amulets are your thing. They range in prices from $15.00 and up!
I won’t spend too much time on the shopping here. In Bangkok it is endless but I highly recommend researching the markets of interest and set aside a day for it. I enjoyed the MBK shopping mall. It is not a typical shopping mall. It has stalls of individual vendors with unique items. I enjoyed it but please note it too is very big and overwhelming. It was our last shopping stop for us. I bought some amazing gemstone stretch bracelets and mala prayer beads there. Lots of fun! So recap: MBK, Chatuchak Weekend Market and the Amulet Market were my personal top favorites. But remember, vendors are all around the temples and the city so you will get your shopping groove on! Bangkok is highly known for not just Buddhist temples, but the shopping!
We took a taxi to most of these places but enjoyed the Tuk Tuk on the way back to our hotel. If your hotel is far away from these shopping trips, I recommend a taxi. Enjoy the Tuk Tuk for brief trips around Bangkok. We had honest and fun drivers our entire stay in Bangkok. But remember, when
taking a taxi, be sure they set the meter. If they don’t, move on to the next taxi driver. Like visiting anywhere, be aware of your surroundings and pay attention!
For travel, I like to use an RFID wallet and crossbody bag. On this trip, since I did shopping daily, I brought along a backpack. If you shop like me, this is the best way to go! You also want your hands free with camera in hand to capture great moments in Bangkok! For overseas travel, this is how I do it!
One thing that touched my heart the most in Bangkok was the beautiful people and their spirit. I loved and respected there beliefs and how they prayed and gave offerings, not just one day a week, but daily. All over Bangkok you will find Buddha statues and shrines filled with offerings of food, drinks, ribbons and gifts. It reminded me to be more mindful of my own spirituality, staying connected and being a good person. I loved it all! Approximately 95% of Thailand practices Buddhism. I purchased many books while I was there too, so this ‘Buddhist in training” could learn more. Even taxi drivers had their Ganesh and Buddha statues in the car. Though Ganesh is a deity of Hinduism, he is still a big part of their belief systems too. You will experience Thai people doing their greeting with hands together and slight bow of their head, it is an expression of respect and kindness. Please practice it while you are there. I was actually saddened when I returned to the States. I really loved the connection of people and the Thai greeting very much.
As far as accommodations in Bangkok, we stayed at the Millennium Hilton Bangkok. We loved it because it was centrally located to all we wished to see…the famous temples, the flea markets, the city, all of it! I recommend staying along the Chao Phraya River. It is fun to take the water ferries to all the major Buddhist temples and enjoy the floating fresh markets.
The Buddhist temples were the highlight of our Bangkok trip and hopping on and off the ferry taxi made it quite easy to see them all. Just be sure to wear comfortable non slip shoes! You jump on and off slippery docks so good footwear with traction is key. I wore sandals that had great soles on them. Also, be sure to dress modest, meaning, no mini skirts or skimpy clothing. Be sure shoulders are covered. I wore a shawl, but in the Grand Palace they still did not let me in, so I wasted a good half hour seeking a store to purchase a shirt with short sleeves and my outfit so didn’t match! Come prepared! Men could not show legs and had to purchase pants! Even if you must keep extra clothes or shawls in a backpack, be prepared. I recommend it. Some have different experiences. My one friend only needed a shawl, so I thought I was prepared, but ended up still needing a short sleeve shirt for the Grand Palace.
Wat Arun: this was our first temple we experienced. I loved seeing local merchants and artists there too! We purchased a handmade piece of art from a local artisan while visiting this temple. Wat Arun has beautiful tall temples decorated in beautiful pieces of colored pottery pieces. Be sure to really take in the details of this magnificent temple.
It was such a joy seeing the monks traveling on the boats to the temples. Many young boys go into the life of novice monks to escape rural Thailand and poverty. It is a way for them to seek shelter, spiritual enrichment and have a better outlook on life. You will see many young monks on your travels and personally, they are little blessings to me. I always give a warm smile when I see them in their brilliant orange robes and little crossbody bags.
The Grand Palace: Beautiful high structures of gold, paintings that tell stories, and awe inspiring statues of bronze decorate this massive place. This one was overwhelming for me, but that was a combination of the heat in October as well as the hundreds of Chinese tourist groups that made it a challenge to seek peace and quiet to soak in all the beauty. (The groups were only at this temple from my experience). But we persevered and made it through. It was quite spectacular. I purchased incense and flowers and made an offering to Buddha for blessings for our loved ones. It was a sacred moment I will always cherish.
Wat Pho: This was my ultimate favorite temple! I finally got to see the Reclining Buddha, an image I have only seen in history books! I got emotional seeing it for the first time! Shoes must always be removed before entering the temples and I was happy to pop off my sandals! Photography in most temples is allowed, just check before hand. Pay attention to the details. It can be overwhelming in such grand places of huge statues, but I was so glad I did. The Reclining Buddha had Mother of Pearl inlay on the bottoms of his feet! The artful details of these statues gives me such a great appreciation for the artists who built them. At Wat Pho, there are many fu dogs, elephants, water fountains filled with water lillies and cats walking around the walls of the temples. There were many smaller temples of Buddha and each one as enchanting as the next.
We were lucky enough to experience the monks chanting one afternoon while in Wat Pho, it was an experience I will never forget. While sitting on the floor, remember to never put feet towards Buddha. It is disrespecful. I was surpised I could take video and photos inside, but the security guard said it was fine. Whenever you are unsure, always ask and the Thai people are always eager to assist you.
Wat Pho had many little temples with many depictions of Buddha in gold. My favorite was the one with the monkey and the elephant giving offerings to Buddha. In Buddhism, animals are symbols and it is believed that animals share our world too and contribute to our world’s ecosystems and the balance of nature. I believe this too.
To recap this magnificent trip and add to it…enjoy a ride on a Tuk Tuk, shop the markets, immerse yourself in the temples, enjoy a rooftop bar with a view of Bangkok at night (so romantic!!), ride the Chao Phraya River, enjoy the locals and their food, eat mango fruit with sticky rice, give an offering and a prayer…and enjoy the adventure!
Bangkok was the most magical city I have ever experienced and I know I will return.
May 23, 2020
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