Bangkok Journals

Four weeks in Thailand

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A November 2001 trip to Bangkok by lcampbell

Tuk-tuks Photo, Bangkok, Thailand More Photos
Quote: I spent four weeks in Thailand with a company called Intrepid Small Group Adventures. I spent time in Bangkok at the beginning, middle, and at the end of the four weeks. For the bulk of the trip, see my journals about Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi, Khao Sok National Park, and Krabi.

Four weeks in Thailand

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Overview

Tuk-tuks Photo, Bangkok, Thailand
Quote:
When I first arrived in Bangkok, I didn’t like it. I live in a small town in the mountains – I do not handle cement-covered polluted megalopolises very well in any country. But I was so excited about being in Thailand that I hit the pavement as soon as I checked into the hotel. There was noise, traffic, people, dirt, and chaos. But there was also beautiful colors, fantastic smelling food, and smiling faces. I ended up liking Bangkok, and when we left to go up north for two weeks, I looked forward to more time there after the two weeks was over. While in Bangkok, we visited the typical tourist destinations of Wat Po and the Royal Palace. We also took a longtail boat tour of the canals, went...Read More

Viengtai Hotel Near Khao Sarn R

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Hotel | "Viengtai Hotel"

Viengtai Hotel Near Khao Sarn R Photo, Bangkok, Thailand
Quote:
This was by far the fanciest place that we stayed in Thailand. Intrepid Small Group Adventures tries to use family-owned small guesthouses that are quite simple, as well as homestays, camping, sleeper trains, and a variety of unique accommodations. The Viengtai Hotel is the exception. Possibly because it is only used for the first and last nights of the trips – so maybe the first night so that you don’t go into culture shock before the trip has even begun, and the last night to have a recovery night before heading home. The Viengtai Hotel has an elegant lobby with all of the employees dressed in matching uniforms. They immediately serve you quickly and professionally. Your bags will be carr...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 9, 2002

Viengtai Hotel Near Khao Sarn R
42 Rambuttri Road
Banglampu, Bangkok, Thailand 10200
66 2 280 5343-45

Wat Po

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Attraction

Wat Po Photo, Bangkok, Thailand
Quote:
Wat Po is a Buddhist temple located directly next to the Royal Palace in Bangkok. It contains three very striking Buddha images, including the standing Buddha, the sitting Buddha, and the famous Reclining Buddha. The Reclining Buddha is almost 50 meters long and 15 meters high. Our guide said it was made of brick covered by stucco, and then entirely covered in gold leaf. The feet are decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay. The Buddha was built first, and then the building was made over it. While we were there, an extensive restoration project was going on. There was scaffolding all around the Buddha with people at all levels repainting murals on all of the walls. The restoration is paid for by d...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 9, 2002

Wat Po
Located across from the Grand Palace
Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok Canal Tour

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Attraction | "Longtail boat tour of klongs"

Bangkok Canal Tour Photo, Bangkok, Thailand
Quote:
We took about a one hour longtail boat ride of the klongs (canals) of Bangkok. The canal system is made of the Chao Praya River and a large system of side canals. The river is quite brown and given the level of air pollution in Bangkok, I don’t even want to think about what may be in the river. Note: don’t smile too much on the trip – you don’t want to get water splashed in your mouth! The tour that we took was a large circle around the old capital city of Thonburi, which was the third capitol of Thailand. The area grew and grew and eventually became the Bangkok of today. We saw a fascinating combination of more expensive homes and corrugated metal or wood shacks all mixed together on the b...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 9, 2002

Bangkok Canal Tour
Pier at Grand Palace
Bangkok, Thailand

Chatuchak Weekend Market

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Attraction | "Chatuchak Market (weekend market)"

Chatuchak Weekend Market Photo, Bangkok, Thailand
Quote:
The weekend market is where you want to go if you want to shop until you drop. The market is HUGE; it would take a full day to see it all. It is acres of clothing, art, sculpture, woodworking, fabric, plants, housewares, earthenware, food, and everything else you can think of. When you first come in from the street, there are three or four rows of more established shops. This means that the prices are a bit higher, and bargaining is more difficult, but the quality of the merchandise is higher than other places in the market. Past these rows of shops are the stalls that make up the bulk of the market. These shops are more competitive and CRAZY. This area was so packed with people...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 9, 2002

Chatuchak Weekend Market
Paholyothin Road
Bangkok, Thailand

Grand Palace

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Attraction | "Royal Palace"

Grand Palace Photo, Bangkok, Thailand
Quote:
The Royal Palace is one of the main tourist sights in Bangkok. Even if you don’t like "touristy" stuff (like me), I would still say that the Royal Palace is a must see. If you have a good guide, you will learn about history, Buddhist architecture, mythical creatures, and you will also gain an appreciation of the deep love and respect the Thai people have for their Royal family. The Royal Palace is 60 acres in size and was built after King Rama I took the throne in 1782. It served as a royal residence and administrative offices. While it is no longer a residence, some government business is still conducted at the Royal Palace. During our visit, it seemed like we were touring a temple rather ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 9, 2002

Grand Palace
Na Phra Lan Road Ko Rattanakosin District
Bangkok, Thailand 10500
+66 (2) 694 1222

Traditional Thai Massage

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Attraction

Quote:
A traditional Thai massage is definitely not to be missed while in Thailand. There are many reputable massage shops in all of the tourist areas. I asked our trip leader for recommendations for the best places to go and was never disappointed. All of the massages that I had were very similar. I think that there are just a few massage schools in Thailand, the most well known being Wat Po in Bangkok, and they seem to teach a similar method. You are typically in a small room that contains about four mattresses on the floor. Thai massages are fully clothed and often there is someone else getting a massage right next to you. The massage seems more like accupressure and focuses mostly on feet, le...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 9, 2002

Traditional Thai Massage
All over Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand

Lumphini (Lumpini) Park

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Attraction | "Lumpini Park"

Lumphini (Lumpini) Park Photo, Bangkok, Thailand
Quote:
At some point I think that all visitors to Bangkok feel the need to escape, even if only for a few hours, the noise and chaos that is ever-present. When we reached that point in our vacation, we quickly hailed a metered taxi, and for a mere $2 we were able to make a break! OK, so the actually transportation to the "break" was a harrowing one hour taxi ride, but hey, sometimes the end justifies the means. There is a green oasis amongst the cement jungle that is Bangkok. It is called Lumpini Park, and it is sort of the Thai version of Central Park. It is a very large park that does not allow motorized vehicles. It is large enough that visitors are buffered from the noise and exhaust of the s...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 9, 2002

Lumphini (Lumpini) Park
Silom Road and Rama IV
Bangkok, Thailand 10330
+66 (2) 694-1222

Spirit houses and Spirit trees

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Story/Tip

Spirit house Photo, Bangkok, Thailand
Quote:
I found this to be a fascinating aspect of Thailand. The Thai people are avid believers in spirits, and they believe that these spirits directly affect their lives in the bringing of good and bad luck. They do everything possible in order to keep these spirits happy. Everywhere you go you will see small spirit houses on pedestals. It seemed like almost 50 percent of properties had one or more of these houses – and this included private property, government areas, national parks, rice fields, rural and urban areas. The houses seem vaguely like birdhouses, but they are larger and more ornate. The spirit houses are always more colorful and beautiful than the other buildings and homes on the ...Read More

Learning to speak Thai

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Story/Tip

Quote:
My mission for our trip was to try out a new word or phrase in Thai every day. I purchased a Lonely Planet Thai phrasebook before we left. I didn’t manage to learn much before arriving in Thailand, but I did memorize how to count ten. This actually ended up being the most useful words that I knew, because if you can count to ten, then by learning only 2 or 3 more words, can count to 999. This is because the counting system beyond ten, is the equivalent of saying "ten-one" for eleven, "ten-two" for twelve, etc. And then "two-ten" for twenty, "three-ten" for thirty, etc. Easy, huh? So to say 54 in Thai, I would say the Thai words "five-ten-four." The most difficult part of speaking Thai is ...Read More

Things you may not like about Thailand

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Story/Tip

Quote:
There are a few things that you will see in Thailand that you may not like. These are things that are prevalent everywhere and cannot be avoided. You also need to realize that they are part of the culture and cannot be changed. So if these are things that you don’t think that you can see or experience without commenting or worrying, then your visit to Thailand may not be enjoyable for you. The most disturbing may be seeing young babies, toddlers, and children on motorbikes. Motorbikes are one of the main form of transportation due to their affordability, so it is the transportation for the whole family. Helmets are not worn, and it is common to see dads driving, with moms holding newborns w...Read More

Etiquette

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Story/Tip

Quote:
On our first day with Intrepid, we had a meeting with our trip leader. Since showing respect for the Thai people is required behavior for Intrepid passengers, we were given a few tips at our meeting. EATING: Our leader told us that Thai people eat with spoons and not forks, and that watching us eat with forks is like us watching someone eat their food off of a knife. It is polite to leave a little bit of food in your dish at the end of a meal, so that the host or server will know that you had enough to eat (if you finish it all it seems that you were still hungry so you had to every little bit). Also involving food and drink, and this mostly applied to our backpacking trip to visit the hil...Read More

Intrepid Small Group Adventures

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Story/Tip

Quote:
I highly recommend travelling with Intrepid. I liked their philosophy, price, and itineraries. They have differenct styles of travel, including Intredpid Small Group Adventure, Roam Asia, Alternative Adventures, and Exporatory Adventures. I might try an Exploratory Adventure next time. For more information, check out their website at www. Intrepidtravel.com INTREPID TRAVEL STYLE Intrepid describes their style of travel as "grass roots travel." Their goal is to help you meet people, explore, and understand local cultures without "having a megaphone weilding tour guide at the front of a bus." They stress respect for the Thai culture, and an understanding of customs and etiquette. ...Read More