Bangkok delights and bewilders from the very moment you set your foot on Thai land. What amazes tourist leaving the plane is the modernity of airport contrasted with the peace and refinement of the temples. Next it deafens with rumble of the streets crowded with people, stalls and rickshaws tuk tuk, but then it soothes with the view of lazily flowing river. It’s the quintessence of what is “Asian” - it pulsates with life, outrages and amazes at the same time.
The impression of the abundance of architecture is in part thanks to... its chaotic character. Bangkok is cut with authentic canals, and that’s why it’s sometimes called “The Venice of the East”. There’s no particular center, the middle is constituted by Rattanakosin – an island with numerous attractions of the Old City. Tourists will probably visit Shanghai reminiscent of Chinatown and the Hindu district Pahurat. There’s a totally different world practically behind every corner.
The city of temples
Those, who came to Bangkok in search of purification of the mind and seeing the famous, mercilessly rich ornamentation of the temples, will be delighted. The first place goes to, of course, the most famous and most magnificent Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), which is a part of the Grand Palace. Actually it’s not a temple, rather a giant temple complex, which consists of palaces with domes glittering in the sun, ornate pillars and golden, soaring hooks. Every single, ornate chapel and every mosaic column is breathtaking. There’s no other place like this in the whole Thailand so filled with the architectural splendor.
In the middle of the complex is a bot – a temple with giant room with six doors guarded by lions. Inside, among the rich ornamentation and frescoes, on a beautiful throne sits magnificent Buddha. His statue is clothed in a robe adequate to the season – for example, in the rainy season he wears glided robes. Despite of the small size (75 cm high) the statue located on a multi-stage altar constitutes one of the most important statues of the Enlightened One in the whole country. For tourists visit in Wat Phra Kaew is the major point on the list of attractions, on the other hand for Thai people it’s the most important temple in country, a place of prayers and meditation.
Located by the west bank of the river Menam (Chao Phraya River), Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun) is also noteworthy. You can get there by express boat or ferry. Many consider it as a symbol of Bangkok, which doesn’t surprise – it’s not as impressive as Wat Phra Kaew, but astonishes with the originality of the construction and attention to detail. Its slender, 104 meters high tower, which is visible from a distance, as well as four smaller towers, 80 – 85 high. Walls of the main prang (tower) are embellished with crafted ornaments of broken porcelain. Similar motives can be found on Chinese statues surrounding the temples. The closer we look, the more amazing details we notice in floral design of facade and statues. Sometimes we may feel even a little bit overwhelmed by this glut of decoration.
Khao San Road never sleeps
In the city center there’s short, though very bustling street – Khao San Road. Here you really have to watch your wallet. And we’re not thinking about pickpockets, but about the fact, that Thai people create countless occasions for buying, sometimes being very importunate. People having problems with assertiveness can even notice a phenomenon of “leaky wallet” – they will run out of money so quickly, they’ll end up only with few satangs.
In this bustling street we can bargain a t-shirt, eat some dish (better not know the composition), and we’ll met plenty of people who will offer us a cheap accommodation. A lot of travel agencies are located here, so it’s a good starting point for further trips. Khao San Road is a heart of the city’s nightlife – there’s no possibility to count all pubs, diners, bars and music clubs here. There’s no lack of massage parlors, and if someone likes spontaneous ideas, can leave this lively region with an original (more or less) tattoo. It’s really hard to believe that almost 1 km away there’s a place totally different - The Temple Of Emerald Buddha.
T-shirts, souvenirs and... sex-change operations
Believe or not, you can sometimes read on travel forums about a pretty controversial thing – a large number of transvestites and transsexuals are offering their company to tourists. Some internaut writes – “Here you can drink some delicious drinks with Thai people, nonetheless you have to be careful because a girl may turn out not to be a girl actually”. It’s hard to deny that things like that really happen here, anyone can learn a lesson. Thailand is a leader in medical tourism, and surprisingly, among the wide offer of services, the most popular ones are those connected with sex changing. People are coming from all over the world, the more that in Bangkok is located one of the most modern private hospitals in the country – Bumrungrad International Hospital. One can therefore say that trans people so often met there are just a living advertisement.
In conclusion, Bangkok is a city of huge possibilities. Everyone will find what they’re looking for – however strange it may sound. Sure thing is that there’s no way to explore all the attractions in one weekend, nor even in a week. We can end with a statement of some person who wrote on a forum: “After three months you will either escape from here and never come back, or you’ll fall in love so hard, that you couldn’t live without it.”