Day #122 - One Day in Bangkok

We only have one full day in Bangkok and so we knew we could only do selected highlights. It's a bustling city and there is a lot we could see, but we focused on getting a flavour of the place rather than try to do too much. 

The day started with probably one of the best and most diverse buffet breakfasts we have had to date. The range of food was amazing, drawn from lots of cultures. We really liked that everything was served in small pots so that the offering remained fresh. At some buffets with big trays of food, you're not sure how long it's stood there! 

After our fill we headed out before it got too hot. We spoke to the hotel's concierge who was able to recommend one area to focus on. He ordered taxi for us and before we knew it we were heading out into the city. 

For me, the city was pretty much as I imagined. A combination of streets crowded with shops and restaurants both old and new, punctuated with ultra modern buildings or on occasions, the opposite; buildings that appear to be propped up by its neighbours either side. The countless electricity cables draped the streets weaving a chaotic overhead tapestry.

We were dropped off near the river and our first buddhist temple, Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan - good luck pronouncing that! Luckily, it has a more common name, Wat Pho. This magnificent temple complex spanning 20-acres is dotted with shimmering chedis (Thai pagodas) and ornate pavilions whisper stories of ancient kings, their walls adorned with intricate murals depicting scenes from the Ramakien, Thailand's epic poem. It is also home to the famous, 150ft golden gilded Reclining Buddha.
Didn't see this! Image from Wikipedia
Well, I say famous. James and I didn't do our research thoroughly enough and didn't realise that was there! It was only when writing this, I discovered what we missed. Oh well, another thing to add to the (long) "We'll save that for next time" list we're compiling on this trip. 
Despite this, we still saw so much that impressed us and gave us cause to pause and wonder. The architecture and delicate carvings were mesmerising and while it was busy with tourists, the place did convey a sense of calm and tranquility. 
Wat Pho is also renowned as a center for traditional Thai massage and medicine. The temple houses a traditional Thai massage school, where visitors can receive massages and learn the art of Thai massage. The school is considered one of the leading institutions for traditional Thai medicine.
After the temple, we wandered across to a bustling area on the riverside that housed restaurants and market stalls. James was tempted (NOT!) by the offerings of one street vendor:
Notice the sign: scorpions ok to eat - the heat killed the poison. That's reassuring! 
From the pier at the back of the market, we took a boat trip along the river and into the canal system of the city. It was just James and I on our boat, so we felt very special and lucky to have our own private vessel. Our skipper and his mate, didn't speak any English and so everything was communicated in gestures and pointing! We saw some excellent sights - not only the beauty and majesty of Bangkok monuments, but also some crocodiles and monitor lizards. Lining the banks of the canal were some very small houses in various states of disrepair - some had even collapsed into the river. Entry and exit to the canal system was via a big lock which was the slowest in history and it was a bit of a free-for-all when they opened it up to see which boats could get themselves inside before the gates shut! 
In among all the chaotic buildings, there were the iconic images of Bangkok that are breathtaking:
Giant Buddha in Wat Pak Nam Temple (l) & Wat Arun Ratchawararam Temple (r)
After our boat trip we headed back to the hotel in a taxi whose owner seemed to have a thing about foreign currency:
Back at the hotel we had a lovely buffet lunch (which turned out to be a bit pricier than we were expecting!) and retired to our room for a bit. 
Later on, it was time to venture up to the rooftop again to enjoy the setting sun and enjoy a drink or two. Bangkok might not have the most recognisable skylines in the world, but it more than makes up for that in its temples and monuments. Despite only having rhe one full day in Bangkok, it has certainly whetted our appetite for more. 
Oh and I couldn't leave a post entitled "One Day in Bangkok" without posting this video now could I?!