We know several people who didn’t like Bangkok very much because they thought it was dirty, crowded, and noisy. We found this funny because after India, we really liked Bangkok for the exact opposite reasons: Bangkok was so clean we had to remind ourselves to look up, crossing the street was a breeze, and we could count the number of honks in a day on one hand. The best part was that we could eat anything we wanted, and it had been a long time since we had any meat.
Our friends Anna and Sean were coming to visit us in Thailand, and we were planning to meet in Bangkok. We arrived a few days early to get the lay of the land, run a few errands, and squeeze in a quick overnight trip to Ayutthaya. Bangkok is a huge city so we spent hours walking around the strets and markets, saw a few sights, and enjoyed new beers.
Food and Drink
We were pretty excited to try all the new and different foods that Thailand had to offer so we spent a good amount of time in Bangkok eating. We ate kebabs on the street, fresh fish in the markets, stall-hopped in Chinatown, and avoided any stands selling bugs. Everything was awesome. And the best part? In addition to the standard brews, we found a bar serving Thai craft beer! Let the Boy Die is a tiny bar that serves beers from a few different Thai microbreweries. We learned that while it is technically illegal for Thai people to brew and sell their own beer, where there’s a will there’s a way. Brewers and distributors like Let the Boy Die may occasionally be forced to shut down and pay fines, but they usually find ways to quickly reopen. Our favorites included not one, not two, but three IPAs: Nectar’s Floral IPA, Golden Coins’ DIPA, and Munyuen Brewing’s IPA.
Innumerable ferries run up and down the Chao Phraya River which winds through the city. We rode the water taxi a few times both as cheap transportation and to see the city from the water. Our first major touristy stop was the Grand Palace, the official residence of the royal family. About a month before we arrived, Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej died and sent the country into mourning. It was plainly obvious how beloved he was by the crowds of people coming to pay their respects. In fact, so many mourners were visiting that the city was providing free food, water, and first aid stations all around the palace.
After wandering around the palace for a few hours, we hopped next door to Wat Pho. Wat refers to a Buddhist temple in Thailand, and oh boy - there are a LOT of wats! Among other things, Wat Pho is home to a 46 meter long reclining Buddha - one of the largest of its kind in the world. It wasn’t really possible to capture the whole thing on film, but trust us: it was big.
Ayutthaya, two hours north by train, used to be the capital of the Siam kingdom until it was razed by the Burmese in 1767. Since we were in the area, we decided to make it an overnight trip. It was a great place to rent a bike and visit the many ruins, archaeological sites, and wats.
In total, we spent over a week in Bangkok and still didn’t explore the whole city. We’re planning to go back for a least a quick stop as that’s where we’ll probably get Vesper a new passport. It may not be a city for everyone, but we can’t wait to go back!