If you follow me on Twitter (@atravelangelist) you might have noticed that I’ve been doing a bit of travelling around South East Asia. I’ve been organising the trip for a while, but there was just one detail I forgot to plan out… my first day in Bangkok.
I flew into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport as a means to get to that side of the world, before using buses to travel around. So I hadn’t actually considered it part of the trip – plus I arrived at 7.30am on no sleep, so who knew whether I would be fully functioning.
I was only there for the one day though, so I decided to man up and take my tired self around Bangkok.
I stayed at Bangkok Centre Hotel for my one night adventure.
Upon arriving I took a taxi here for around £10… Not bad considering the distance covered. The hotel was great, although I didn’t love the breakfast (I later found this to be a common theme in hotels across the region!) and they couldn’t provide a map, which is something I have always considered to be a basic offering, and a fact which will explain the rest of my blog post!
Without a map to use, I attempted to get to the dock to catch a boat around the Chao Phraya river. This didn’t happen, but here’s what did.
I walked in whatever direction looked interesting and found…
Wat Duang Khae
Yep, this was the opposite direction to the river… but I took some time to check out this private Buddhist temple built before BE2370 (BE is Buddhist Era, which started 543BC to us).
A bustling market and a dead end
After being given the wrong directions many-a-time by tuk tuk drivers (they like to give you the wrong direction if you aren’t paying!) I finally caved in and took one to the docks after I found myself at a dead end. Although I like to call being lost ‘exploring off-piste’, I really was quite lost. I did find myself by this interesting market though, and the area felt really local as oppposed to touristic, which I appreciated.
But, as my cynical self expected, the driver took me to his mates’ tour boat dock, and it was overpriced… so I kept walking and decided I could keep exploring by foot now I knew where the river was.
And then I got lost again…
I’ve always prided myself in being brilliant with directions when I have a map. I’m always the one left in charge of the map in busy foreign cities and I excel at it! Apparently I’m not so great without one though!
We did eventually get to Wat Pho, and here’s what we saw along the scenic route…
I did also stumble upon Wat Ratchaburan (previosuly called Wat Jeen Liap after the Chinese builder that created it).This was the Royal Temple during King Rami I’s reign and was rebuilt after being damaged during World War II.
From the riverwalk towards Wat Pho I also spotted Wat Kalayanamitr Varamahavihara – a Buddhist temple built in the 1800s.
Hours after leaving my hotel, I finally made it to Wat Pho (also known as Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn). The temple complex is home to the famous reclining buddah, is a UNESCO site, one of the highest classes of temples in Thailand and is the birthplace of the Thai massage.
It’s a beautiful and colourful complex too…
The Palace is nearby, but Thailand is still in mourning for their king so the area was filled with locals dressed in black and paying their respects. There was access to the walkway, but it felt disrespectful hanging around too long (although I did purposefully wear dark clothes for the occasion).
After my full day whizzing around Bangkok on no sleep, I was tired. It was time to take a Tuk Tuk and a nap (not at the same time…)
If I were more organised I probably could have explored more. But running on coffee and the plane food, my little exploration before heading to Cambodia suited me just fine!