After 23 journals and well over a hundred entries it is time to offer an index.
by SeenThat on April 2, 2009
Religious Sites"A temple on every corner" seems to be the local motto; Bangkok is home to hundreds of temples, including three of the highest rank in the complex hierarchical classification of Thai temples. These are Wat Mahathat (home to the Emerald Buddha), Wat Ratchapradit and Wat Ratchaburana. These structures are Bangkok’s soul; they transform it into something special and give it shape and color.Located across the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun is an icon of Thailand. Its unmistakable shape is the epitome of chedis architecture. Why was a temple located on the western side of a city named "Temple of the Dawn?" No less iconic, is the Golden Mount. Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan is located on an artificial hill raising seventy-seven meters above the street level and can be seen from far away; climbing it allows beautiful views of downtown Bangkok and the Grand Palace. Wat Pho is located next to Bangkok’s Grand Palace, on its southern side. The dedicated entry includes also a basic explanation of a Thai temple architecture. The temple is home to the main school of Thai massage in the country.Wat Ratchanaddaram, the Black Metal Pagoda, is probably one of the most underrated temples in the city. The sharp contrast between this beautiful, neat, black and white, minimalist temple and the typical green and orange Thai temple tells the visitor that this temple is special. Accordingly, its design symbolizes the different qualities contributing to enlightenment in Buddhism; its metal towers create a magnificent display changing with every step the visitor takes. In fact, it is an open Buddhist encyclopedia; the main aspects of Buddhist doctrine can be read on the building structure.Thai cities always include a pillar - a symbolic representation of a linga - which is considered to host the city’s guardian spirit or deity. They are located in the vicinity of, or within, larger temples and are an official center of worship for the city’s welfare, though usually they are the preferred temples for fertility rites as well. Here it is next to the Grand Palace.Less typical is Chanasongkhram Ratchaworamahawiharn, a monastery that was built before the foundation of the city in 1782 by the Mon people, the original inhabitants of the area. One of Bangkok's landmarks, the Giant Swing provides unforgettable views. Its slim, gracious shape creates a gate into a magical city where strangely shaped stuppas, giant swings and mighty stone guardians compete for a place in the travelers’ heart.The Santa Cruz Cathedral is a must while in Bangkok, offering not only a beautiful sight, but also an important insight into Bangkok’s past and linking it to Ayutthaya. Following a long restoration process, by the end of 2008 the sparkling white Wat Prayoon is with no doubt one of the most impressive temples in Bangkok. Royal BangkokFew places manage to transfer its visitors to another, magical world as the Grand Palace does. Spires and stuppas rise densely above the wall surrounding the complex in an impossible kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. The Grand Palace is probably the most popular attraction in Bangkok; yet, few realize this is just a ceremonial center. Royal Bangkok is north of there, beyond Khaosan Road and at the end of the Ratchadamnoen Nok Road. Four royal attractions are there: the Royal Plaza, the Ananta Samakorn Throne Hall, the Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall and the Vimanmek Mansion. Except for a statue of King Rama V riding a horse at its center and trees on its perimeter, the huge Royal Plaza is empty, offering a grand background to the Ananta Samakorn Throne Hall.The Ananta Samakorn Throne Hall, was built in 1912 in a classical European style, it features a dome unusually seen in Asia and Cherubim adorn its gates. It is hard to find any Thai touches in the whole structure. After the 1932 coup which ended the absolute monarchy, it housed the Thai parliament for a while. The palace can be visited after buying tickets at an office placed behind it (so that the view of the palace from the plaza would not be obstructed). Beyond its splendor, and the glimpse it offers at the Thai fascination with European architecture during the early 20 century, the structure is of little interest.Behind the former, is the single story Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall, which is an awesome example of Thai architecture, featuring carved floral motifs on panels adorning the gables and eaves. Facing the hall are two small buildings, which were used as the royal elephants' stables. The elephants have been relocated to a northern refuge and the stables were transformed into a museum that includes photographs of the royal elephants’ investiture ceremonies.West of the former and across a canal, is the Vimanmek Mansion, also known as the golden teak palace of King Rama V. This palace is known as the world's largest teakwood building, the most traditional house building material in Thailand. Nowadays the teak logging is forbidden and this type of structures is becoming rare.In the eighties it was transformed into museum of the important reign of King Rama V. Nowadays, more than twenty structures are included in the museum, displaying everything from ancient Thai artifacts to contemporary photographs donated by the king. However, the buildings are no less important than the goods stored in them.Just east of the sites described here is the Chitlada Palace, the king's formal residence. The palace is beyond a moat and a wall, and is not open to the public. Travelers have nothing to do or see in the area; keeping distance from the guards and cameras is recommended.It is impossible to imagine a visit to Bangkok without passing through Ratchadamnoen Avenue or one of the many attractions along it, which are the true heart and soul of the city. The street name means "Royal Passage," hinting thus that the avenue links between the Grand and Dusit palaces. Along it is Sanam Luang; to say that the last is unprepossessing would be the understatement of the new and young millennium. Few would realize that the almost empty park next to the Grand Palace is one of the most important sites in Royal Bangkok, being the site of royal cremation ceremonies and others, like the Ploughing Ceremony and the Ceremony of Calling the Rain.The Memorial Bridge is a bridge over the Chao Phraya River; it is worth a special visit due to the views from it, its relationship with the actual dynasty and the attractions surrounding it.Gardens and ParksLocated next to the Old Parliament and Throne Hall, the Khao Din - Dusit Zoo enjoys a central location in Bangkok; a visit there can be combined with visits to the Throne Hall, the Vimanmek Mansion and the Grand Palace. It is considered among the best zoos in Asia.Even from the side facing Sukhumvit Road, Benchasiri Park looks attractive on the verge of irresistible and provides a wonderful break while in downtown. The Chatuchak Park is one of the largest parks in Bangkok and the most natural destination after visiting the adjacent Chatuchak Market. Since the market is the largest in Bangkok and a main tourists’ magnet, visiting this park is an unavoidable pleasure.Missing the Central World Plaza, the huge structure at the important Ratchadamri and Ploen Chit junction, is difficult, especially since that’s where the two Skytrain lines meet. It is difficult to define it as a park or a garden, since it is completely covered up and does not feature even one spot of green; yet, two temples, the Ganesh and Trimurati Shrines, occupy one of its corners. One of them features a large pond of water, adding thus a touch of nature to one of the most developed areas in the city.The Santi Chai Prakan Park and Phra Sumen Fort are one of the most distinctively Thai sights in Bangkok. Seldom do such couples exist and it is even rarer when they are easily accessible. Parts of the old city wall, a Thai Pavillion and an attractive bridge complete the scene.Lumphini Park is the largest in Bangkok and with no doubt one of the main attractions in town; few metropolises in the world can pride themselves on such awesome green space. Its location between Sukhumvit and Silom roads make it an unavoidable stop.
Few cities seem to be better positioned for earning the title of capital of the Multipolar Global Village than Bangkok. The cosmopolitan population, the myriad of visitors and the lack of imperial connotations, make it an ideal candidate. Beyond that, it's a shopping paradise which will keep troublemakers busy for eons. Under the circumstances, knowing your way among the city coffee shops is imperative.ChainsA highly aromatic and tasteful pleasure, coffee deserves an equally attractive logo, a rich, evocative one, capable of creating a visual foreplay before the drink is enjoyed. Coffee World succeeded in combining an attractive logo with excellent coffee and smart shops. How can the thirsty traveler avoid entering?McCafe at Amarin Plaza occupies a premium location in Bangkok, most of the city’s shopping centers are at walking distance and the place offers good views of Sukhumvit Road and the Skytrain above it. The coffee served by McCafe is no less good – though it is less expensive – than the one served in the adjacent branch of Starbucks. Did I mention they draw "M"’s on the froth?Au Bon Pain is a bakery chain that serves also good quality coffees; their branch at Soi 4 of Siam Square enjoys a main location in downtown Bangkok, practically buried amidst the main shopping malls of the city. Thus, this branch is perfect for a tasty breakfast before a busy day touring the main shopping district of the metropolis. Not surprisingly, Au Bon Pain has another branch across the avenue, within the Siam Discovery Center. However, the last does not offer street views. Overall, the coffees, breads and service are overwhelming.Black Canyon Coffee is a Thai chain of coffee shops specializing in coffee and offering a Western-Thai fusion menu, which offers a fascinating glimpse into modern Thai culture.Segafredo’s entry to Thailand was relatively recent. I have met them in my hometown, their home country, a few European cities, the US and finally in Thailand; actually I have visited them in many of the cities printed on their smart outer glass-wall of their branch in Bangkok. By far, Segafredo is my favorite Italian coffee. Besides the superb coffee served there and their adherence to traditional Italian methods and products, their branches are always super-stylish and a real treat for the visitor.During the day, Silom Road is one of the main commercial areas in the city, featuring also several attractions for the travelers, including the nearby Lumphini Park; while at night, this is one of the most infamous areas of the city. Most travelers would find themselves crossing it at one or another opportunity. Then, DelifranceSilom would be faithfully waiting for them with delicious French breads and excellent coffee.Starbucks Khaosan Road is actually located at the end of Sunset Road, an alley opened amidst the buildings on Khaosan Road for the benefit of the travelers crowding the area. It occupies three rooms at the entrance level of a beautiful two-storey Victorian house; the location more than justifies the visit. The first room accessed from the entrance is where the counter is located; it is named Starbucks's: The Grand Bar. Behind it is the Victorian: The Seating Room, which is the largest. At its left is the very small Memphis: The Living Room. The Victorian environment has an obvious Egyptian touch; while there, I could easily imagine myself being at some gathering of an outdated British geographical society during the late nineteenth century.As always, Starbucks provides a good coffee; here it is combined with an awesome setup and comfortable couches. What else can the eternal traveler ask for?Specialized ShopsLocated at the Isetan Department Store in CentralWorld, Sun Moulin Cafe Bakery advertises a Bakery Buffet and offers awesome views of the CentralWorld Plaza – a main attraction in downtown Bangkok. The coffee may not be the best, but the views and the pastries more than compensate for that.The 3'Or coffee shop of the Thammasat University symbolizes the probable future of coffee in Thailand. A Thai coffee shop with Thai attendants and catering for a mainly Thai population, but serving Western style coffee is a good sign that the elixir is becoming popular in the kingdom. No less important, their cappuccinos are good, despite the garlic bread offered with it.I find it difficult to find surprises in Bangkok; the place feels like home. Yet, in my last visit, I noticed the Queen's Gallery Cafe.The building occupies a corner in front of the Mahakan Fort and near the Golden Mount, Wat Ratchanatdaram, the Democracy Monument and is on the way from the Grand Palace to the Throne Hall. The neat, simple and functional setup is rather alien to the Thai culture; especially since the coffee options are almost purely Western and prepared with an excellent coffee machine. The coffees offered include espresso, Americano and cappuccino; all of them are served with care, and a glass of water with ice. The last is a nice touch I have seen in few other coffee shops in Bangkok. An excellent coffee at a classy spot: unavoidable pleasure.Consistently considered among the world's best hotels, the Oriental includes a not less famous spot: the Author's Lounge. Its name honors the large list of authors who visited it: Joseph Conrad, Noel Coward, Graham Greene, Frederick Forsythe, V. S. Naipul, John le Carré, Barbara Cartland, Pico Iyer, Mario Vargas Llosa and James A. Michener among others. Somerset Maugham, wrote there "The Gentleman in the Parlor."I arrived there for their famous Afternoon Tea and combined it with an Einspaenner coffee, the experience lead me to rate them as the best in Bangkok.Local Style CoffeeLoitering in the Lottery Esplanade at the small hours may seem an unsophisticated way of wasting time; doubly so if spending it sipping a traditional Thai coffee. However, I must admit that a coffee mixed with ground tamarind and condensed milk diluted with palm oil – all of them sharing the limited space of a tiny glass – is an intriguing experience and a must for every aspiring Marco Polo. And it tastes not bad at all.The BestIn an unusual entry, I rated the Nine Best Coffees in Bangkok. The bottom choices were rather bizarre, but that’s life in Bangkok. Bon Apetite!
by SeenThat on April 3, 2009
I consider Thai food to be the best in the world. A dish too spicy for me to be eaten makes me feel miserable and strengthens my determination to increase my chili tolerance; the day in which all of this marvelous cuisine would be accessible to me is not far.Hybrid RestaurantsIgnoring this booming side of the local scene is impossible. Wherever tourists arrive, soon appear restaurants offering Western-Thai hybrid menus that explore the inexpensive side of both cuisines. Many of those feature attractive setups, allowing generous sights of the surroundings. On Soi Rambuttri, Four Sons Village is one of the best examples in this category. A club sandwich can be here a tasty prelude to a pad-Thai with grated cheese, or any other implausible innovation the chef.Tuptim offers a beautiful quality space near Khaosan Road. Quiet and green it resembles a secluded garden despite being near one of the city main – and certainly noisiest - quarters. Tuptim is a wonderful place for a Western-style breakfast sprinkled with Thai fruits or for a quiet dinner following a long and busy day in town.Pen Thai Food is remarkable in this category for its authentic Thai curries. Unfortunately, the place was under renovation during my last visit.Popiang House is my favorite in this category. It operates on a 24/7 basis making it especially accessible to travelers that tend to arrive at, or leave, the Khaosan Road area at odd hours. If that weren’t enough of a reason for visiting it, during the evenings the place specializes in fresh fish that are grilled in front of the customers.The unprepossessing Prakorb is among the oldest institutions on Khaosan Road. For years I enjoyed the old coffee grinders and coffee machines displayed in the long and narrow restaurant; they were the perfect invitation for one of their coffees, which were among the best in the area until the arrival of the coffee chains. Beyond that, Prakorb serves many Thai dishes with very little adaptations from the original recipes and thus is a good place for getting acquainted with spiced-down delicacies of the Thai cuisine. Their Massaman Curry is especially recommended.Piri Piri is one of the many international chains that arrived at Thailand and adapted their menu to local preferences. Not that there was much to change in their extra-spicy Portuguese chicken.Proper Thai FoodThe Rambuttri corner Chakraphong roads area is home to several sidewalk restaurants and stalls serving Thai dishes as they are consumed by local at the food markets all over Thailand. Beyond curries and meat-rice dishes, popular snacks using western ingredients in Thai style can be tasted there. Some of them even feature signs in English giving basic descriptions of the dishes.A main staple in Thailand is the noodle soup. Popular all over South East Asia, Thais have their own version, which is very worthy of a special study. It is eaten at all hours and widely available all over town, read the specific entry for tips that would transform you into a pro in the eyes of the denizens.Another staple are Thai curries; in a quasi-ambitious project, I explored the different available options, which usually are referred to by their color. They can be fiercely spicy, but this sublime example of the Thai cuisine is worth the pain.In a clear case of bad PR, few know that pad-Thai is a proper dish of the Thai cuisine with relatively deep roots, and not a new-age-snack served to hungry backpackers as it may seem to travelers visiting Khaosan Road. Tasting it in proper Thai restaurants is thus recommended.The Sun Moulin Cafe Bakery is located at the third floor of the Isetan Department Store in Central World; few locations in Bangkok can claim to be more central. Bakeries in Thailand always offer intriguing pastries, but Sun Moulin is special because it offers a "bakery buffet" with highly original items combining unthinkable ingredients with regular western pastries. SnacksEnjoying tropical and subtropical climates, Thailand produces an awesome variety of fruits. Those are sold from street stalls cooled on ice, cut into chunks, often unripe and with an accompanying bag containing a mix of chili and sugar.An invasion of hungry backpackers demanded an inexpensive snack; the banana pancake was the result. A related snack was introduced from the Middle East; falafel can be found at strategic points of Khaosan Road, Soi Arab and other prime locations.I explored also the Israeli side of Bangkok – which parts of it could be called Little Tel Aviv by trying the hummus served at the restaurants of the Green House, Hakesher, and Lametayel on Khaosan Road. The experience was as tasty as surprising.FlagshipTom Yam Kung is probably the most famous Thai dish. The name can also teach a bit of Thai. Tom: means "soup." Remembering that is a piece of cake. Yum: means "mix together," and is used for dishes mixing many ingredients, usually for items that westerners would classify as salads or soups. Usually such dishes are eaten as part of a shared meal consisting of various items. Koong: means "shrimps." Of course, the dish can be prepared with other meats; under such circumstances the last word would change to reflect that.Bon Apetite!Sometimes tasty food demands a price from us. If eating it too much, we may get heavier. If eating it with too much passion we may end visiting a Foreign Dentist in a Foreign Land.
Below Any Possible RatingExploring extremes is a good way to get to know a new environment; I explored the bottom boundaries of the hotels in Bangkok, especially in the Khaosan Road area.Merry V has a superb location in the Khaosan Road area and a nice coffee-shop, but its rooms remind the matchboxes seen in "The Beach." The bed was covered with a very old sheet; it was so thin due to age and use that the holes in it looked as a fancy part of its original design. Since my room was at a corner, it had windows on two walls, one facing the bed and the other above the door; but other rooms had just one. The metallic mosquito net successfully blocked any chance the refreshing night breeze had to do its work. Baan Sabai: Its name may be translated as "Pleasantville;" however, it has very little beyond the name. It is located in the road surrounding the temple at the western end of Khaosan Road; it offers a reasonable access to the area and a pleasant restaurant. Next to the lobby and occupying all the space to the street corner is a relatively large restaurant featuring an attractive design in dark wood; large windows allow the breeze in. The menu is rather basic and includes traditional Thai dishes and basic Western ones. The room is worth description; its single bed occupied more than half of it. A fan attached to the ceiling and aimed at the bed began to work once I inserted the key into a specially designed switch. The only additional piece of furniture was a wood box next to the bed. There were no windows except for a narrow opening along one wall, which was placed next to the ceiling, barely allowing seeing the corridors neon lights and nothing more. The boxy, white structure of Top Guesthouse has no elevator, thus a room in the lower floors is recommended. Except for the crammed entrance, the building is kept clean and uncluttered. The room turned out being rather basic and overpriced. Room 22 offered a top view of the alley and the entrance sign, but little else. Being a double room, it had two beds with sheets and no covers; the pillows were the only article disturbing their flatness, the room had also a big fan at the ceiling, an open closet and a humble table. However, I am exaggerating; it doesn’t really belong to the very bottom options.BudgetOn the eastern side of Khaosan Road, Nana Plaza Inn enjoys a superb location, including a back-exit into an alley between Khaosan Road and Ratchadamnoen Avenue, where some of the best travel agencies in Bangkok are located. Nana Plaza Inn was among the first big guesthouses built in Khaosan Road and it still offers an interesting option for short stays in the city.D&D enjoys a fabulous location at the very center of Khaosan Road. The last round of renovations created a direct access from the lobby to the alley separating Khaosan Road from Ratchadamnoen Road, augmenting thus its accessibility even more. The additions and renovations were done on layers, resulting in areas of different qualities. The rooms in Building 2 are much better than the older ones and thus the building is usually fully occupied. Checking out the rooms before occupying them is always recommended.In a typical Asian move, the Siam Oriental Inn owners chose a name similar to the one used by another hotel, the opulent Oriental. Here the similarity between the two ends. The Siam Oriental Inn is a landmark in the eastern side of Khaosan Road. It was one of the first big guesthouses to establish themselves in the road and set an example for the plethora of establishments that appeared in recent years. It offers value accommodation as well as additional services like a restaurant, internet kiosk and travel agency for the joy of the backpackers flooding the area.A Local ChainIn essence, the Sawasdee hotels and guesthouses are very Thai. The ground floor is open to the street and features – beyond the reception desk – a well-aired restaurant and a few computers. The rooms are in the upper floors and are not different of those found in other Thai establishments. However, Sawasdee is a chain.They operate mainly in Bangkok (several locations) and Pattaya, offering always a professional and friendly service. If joining their members club there is a ten percent discount on addition to any other seasonal one. Sawasdee hotels provide the guest almost with everything at prices that similar hotels can’t match. The rooms have air conditioners, a shower with hot water, television and a queen-size bed; some branches include refrigerators in the room. What’s the trick? First, they are a chain, thus their relative administrative costs are lower. Second, my initial statement was somewhat misleading. They provide everything, but they also crowd it in incredibly small rooms. Sometimes the only window in the room faces a narrow corridor. The space between the bed and the wall across the room is barely enough for a person to stand there; in fact, it is the width of a backpack. The television is just 14" and often offers only aerial channels.Reasonable ChoicesMango Lagoon Place was one of the last hotels to be built in the Khaosan Road area; I followed the lengthy construction process over what was until then one of those rare unoccupied lots in the area. Then I travelled away for a while and when I returned to Bangkok, I met the most impressive hotel along Soi Rambuttri.As hinted by the room’s price, the hotel belongs to the top end of Khaosan Road hotels. Instead of a key attached to a plastic slab used for activating the electricity in the room – almost a must in the area – I got a proper magnetic card for opening the door. The last was heavy and solid. Once inside I couldn’t see everything at once – that was a good sign. Overall, the Mango Lagoon provides by the end of 2008, one of the most appealing options for staying in the Khaosan Road area.When it was opened a few years ago, Buddy Boutique Hotel became the first up-market place in the entire street; placed nearby the eastern edge of Khaosan Road, it lured backpackers - the main segment of population here - not only with its inexpensive luxury, but also with the help of a small shopping center placed at its polished entrance. There, the Coffee World became the first coffee chain to set a foot in the street, McDonald opened a branch next to it and Buddy's restaurant above them defined new food standards in the area. Viengtai Hotel was the first real hotel in the Khaosan Road area, and even today, its massive building is still one of the best choices for a good sleep there. The hotel is located on Thanon Rambuttri, the northern street parallel to Khaosan and offers easy access to all the attractions without surrendering to the backpackers' motto "cheaper is better."Slightly less expensive than its exclusive neighbors (the Oriental and the Shangri-La) the Holiday Inn Silom offers an attractive compromise between lush luxury, a superb location amidst a major commercial and shopping area of Bangkok and reasonable prices. Top EndA visit to Bangkok allows staying at top-rated hotels – on a world scale – at relatively accessible prices. Not enjoying the opportunity once in a while would be almost a sin.Matching the expectations created by its name, the Shangri-La Hotel is one of the best hotels Bangkok has to offer. South of the Oriental and a bit far from downtown, it has a superb access to the Skytrain and to the Chao Phraya River. The list of facilities provided is long; but it is not that what makes the place worthwhile since most of the three-stars and up hotels in town provide the same them, the point here is the top-quality of each item. Occupying a prime location along the Chao Phraya riverside, the Oriental is constantly recognized as one of the most luxurious hotels in the world.The rooms are sumptuous, the Thai silk flows in them as water in the nearby Chao Phraya, and include also a private butler service. Opulent and luxurious, the hotel offers more services than it is possible to use, including several restaurants. Its Author’s Lounge is featured here also as one of the best coffee shops in Bangkok.
ShoppingThe main shopping area of Bangkok is a long strip running along Rama I, Ploen Chit and Sukhumvit Roads. The Skytrain travels along the whole of it, though only by walking it is possible to explore all the options in this dense concentration of malls.The main shopping malls in the area include those in the Siam Square Area, CentralWorld, Amarin, Central Chidlom and Paragon, but this list is not complete; others are reviewed in a general entry of the Shopping in Bangkok journal. All of them are characterized by offering a wide range of products, a more specific categorization is offered in the specific entries. A less flashy and more specialized area is Silom where many representatives of foreign companies are located. The Patpong Night Market is located near its northern end.Khaosan Road is an area offering specialized shopping for travelers, including air tickets at excellent prices and visas to other countries. However, goods ranging from backpacks through electric adaptors and ending in photography equipment are significantly more expensive here than elsewhere in Bangkok. Khaosan Road is surrounded by not less attractive shopping areas, featuring an excellent travel agency among other attractions.Panthip is the biggest electronics shopping mall in the city. Bangkok cannot compare to Singapore or Hong Kong as an electronics Mecca, but it is still a worthy shopping area.Pratunam is an apparel street market near Central World; the new Fashion World is across the main avenue from it and offers similar items in an air-conditioned environment.Chatuchak Market is the largest market in town offering mainly traditional Thai products and souvenirs; it is active mainly during weekends.Yaorawat Road is the name of the main street in Bangkok’s Chinatown. The expected merchandise is displayed in an exuberant way and amidst a plethora of restaurants offering shark fins.Soi Arab offers many restaurants and travel agencies specializing in Middle Eastern products.The quick transition from Siam Square – a central commercial quarter – to the quiet alley ending at a narrow, romantic canal contributes to the magic of seeing a wooden hut emerging from a lush tropical garden with lotus ponds at walking distance from the BTS Skytrain and ultramodern Bangkok. Jim Thompson's House is a wonderful traditional teakwood house, with an unusual story and a shop of high quality Thai silk.It is not possible to claim the Victory Monument is among Bangkok’s main attractions. Yet, if staying a few days in town it is difficult to avoid its central location. Moreover, the area’s view is quite distinctive; recognizing the site after one view is easy. It offers many shopping and travel facilities, including the new King Power Duty Free and a Robinson Department Store.It is a good idea to know what you are shopping for before entering one of those flashy malls otherwise the result may be an unrestrained shopping spree and debts for years. My list of favorite Thai items appears in Shopping a Wat?TravelingA big metropolis, Bangkok offers plenty of transport methods.The Victory Monument area is home to a few useful lines of buses departing to Ayutthaya, Nakhon Pathom and the new southern bus terminal, serving Southern Thailand. The main transportation methods in the city were described in a journal named Roaming Bangkok. The Skytrain, the metro, the different types of buses, and even the new international airport of Bangkok are described there. The largest bus terminal Mo Chit allows reaching mainly the north, northeast and southeast parts of the country. Boats - along the Chao Phraya River or in the canals – are an important part of the travel experience in this Venice of the East.A metropolis is never detached from its surroundings. The journal Day Trips from Bangkok includes the following locations: Ayutthaya, Pattaya, Kanchanaburi and Damnoen Saduak. The last highlighted links lead to newer, specifically dedicated journals.Finally, certain bus travel experiences unforgettable.
Some experiences are too specific and do not fit other categories; yet they are an integral part of any visit.WalkingWalking around is the best way of learning a city, since while traveling around the landscape moves too fast and memorizing details is difficult.Bangkok’s Inner Pace: the Walks takes the traveler along a series of themed walks that include: A Walk among Bangkok’s Chinese and Indian Markets, the Nature Walk, the Social Ladder Walk, the Shameless Shopping Walk, and the Ethnic Walk. The journal dedicated to Thonburi - the part of Bangkok west of the Chao Phraya River and a former capital of the kingdom – includes a walk through that part of the city.ShoppingIt is a good idea to know what you are shopping for before entering one of those flashy malls otherwise the result may be an unrestrained shopping spree and debts for years. My list of favorite Thai items appears in Shopping a Wat?The Israeli AngleThe Little Tel Aviv journal includes a series of hotel, restaurants and travel agencies reviews of Bangkok’s Israeli side.Running FormalitiesThere is no escape of this; once in a while the visa must be renewed. Usually that is done by leaving the country and returning back for a new visa on arrival; the experience provides endless opportunities for adventures, some of them of beaurocratic nature.I reviewed two visa runs in Myanmar, one through Myawaddy and the second - Knee Deep in Chai – through Kawthaung; both included unusual events, with one in which a fellow traveler insisted in paying with a high denomination note the immigration officer was not ready to accept. Practical information on different visas was provided here.At Odd HoursFew cities are truly awake at all hours, fewer even manage to excite at all hours; Bangkok accomplishes both.At 4 AM: Never dark, at this hour a myriad of neon lights focus our eyes on every single bit of human activity. A cool breeze, unobstructed by a congested city, finally manages to cool down the day excesses and people sit down at the many stalls scattered around, amusingly watching the crowds standing inside the counted, speeding buses. Many markets, especially those selling food and located next to travel centers, are open at these hours.10 AM: This is a good hour to begin a shopping day. A new shopping mall pops up every month in this behemoth of a metropolis, but the main ones are comfortably placed in a relatively small area next to the central Ratchaprasong intersection.4 PM: This is the perfect time to relax after a day packed with excitements; a time to gather strength for the approaching night. A combination that fits the hour, the climate and the city is a relaxing session of traditional Thai massage followed by a visit to a good coffee shop. Most top quality hotels offer both, but somehow, inside them this wonderful city fades out. The best place for a Thai massage would be at Wat Pho – the main school of the art in the country - or at the nearby Khaosan Road, where there are more options for a coffee afterwards. If choosing the last, the best places are in the wide alley connecting Khaosan Road with Thanon Rambuttri. A session of ninety minutes – the very minimum for a whole treatment – costs around six dollars.10 PM: The Big Chili’s can offer some unusual sights; floating on the calm waters of the Chao Praya River await the visitor romantic dinners and awesome views. The murmuring, slow-flowing water around the boat is part of the magic of seeing the city slowly revealing its wonders.In Bangkok, even after midnight internet can become an adventure.Encounters in BangkokFalling in Love with a Country includes events like the first landing, the first return to the country, the first impressions of a truly foreign language, what happens when the bus company changes the departure bay after you bought the ticket and left the station and more.Finally, the moment in which a Foreign Dentist in a Foreign Land was visited, did arrive and was survived.
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