“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” Buddha
Our spontaneous trip to Bangkok, was aimed purely at food travel and enjoying the country’s many culinary offering, in between all our amazing meals, we also experienced some stunning temples, luxury palaces, the Chao Phraya River and the warmth and friendliness of the Thai people. We stayed along the river, so it made sense to use the public boats to get around. It was super easy and loads of fun to travel by water for a change. With limited time in Bangkok, we picked a few key places to visit.
The Palace is beautiful, and is a must do, as it provides context to the rich culture and religion of the country.
If you hang back from the tour groups, you can get parts of this landmark to yourself. I really loved the architecture, use of colours and textures– all that bling appealed to me! Visiting here requires you come prepared, wear modest clothing, sunscreen, a hat and bring some water as this is a huge site consisting of palaces, royal offices, public buildings and temples - a lot of walking is required. The Emerald Buddha which is one of the region’s most scared sculptures, is also housed within this complex of buildings.
Born Siddhartha Gautama, to a royal family in Nepal, he turned his back on his privileged life, to embark on a journey that would lead to his
enlightenment and rebirth as Buddha – meaning the 'One who is Awake'. Buddha spent the rest of his life, teaching others how to attain similar
enlightenment and awareness. The temple of the Emerald Buddha, is an ornate tribute to him, with his image carved out of green jade and surrounded by other sculptors and ornaments. After seeing various temples and other statues, the Emerald Buddha is pretty small in comparison.
The Temple of the Reclining Buddha is another attraction worth seeing if you have limited time or aren’t too interested in temples. The craftsmanship of the sculptor is so detailed, check out his feet and the cushions he is resting on.
If you need a break from the temples, the Jim Thompson House makes for a nice visit. Wow, what a cool story and colourful dude, Jim seems to have been. I won’t give too much away. Thomson worked for the American Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA. He arrived in Thailand, fell in love with the place and people and created an empire for himself from the silk trade and almost single-handedly helped revive the silk industry, or so the story goes. You may want to leave your wallet behind when you take this tour, I wanted to buy every single silk scarf in the boutique!
And no holiday would be complete without some culture, history and adventure. Driving by bus, one and a half hours out of Bangkok, we
headed to what remains of the once opulent, enchanting and splendid capital city of Siam. The bus drive was also a great way to see abit more of Bangkok’s surrounding and we had an entertaining tour guide. He had an obsession with alternative medicine. Armed with a captive audience and a microphone, he went through herbal cures for every ailment :)
Ayutthaya, is the former capital of Siam, and is where the Lopburi, Chao Phraya and Pa Sak rivers meet. This kingdom once boasted 3 palaces and 400 temples, until the Burmese invaded in the 1700’s, what remains was declared a world heritage site in 1981. On arrival, despite the destruction, it’s not hard to see why Ayutthaya was described as one of the most spectacular places to visit, fit for royalty and the international traders who came to woo them. You feel like an archaeologist as you wonder around the ruins and wrecks of what once was.
We were in awe of the stunning architecture at the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace.
Then it was time to explore the sprawling Wat Mahathat complex of ancient temples, monasteries and stone ruins. There is a beauty to this place that will stay with me always.
Soon enough it was time for lunch, which we had on board a boat, before it set off down the Chao Phraya river and returned us to Bangkok.
South Africans get a visa on arrival to Bangkok and the country is very ZAR friendly. Plus there are loads of amazing travel packages to take
advantage of whether you are looking for an affordable or luxury visit to Thailand.
I highly recommend a visit.