Bangkok 

Before coming here, I was warned that Bangkok is dirty, crowded, confusing, loud and trafficky. It is definitely all of those things.  

gridlock downtown

 

It’s also charming, friendly, mysterious and engaging. I’ve heard that you either love Bangkok or hate it, but I think everyone can agree that the city has personality.   

We visited the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha, the two most important historic/religious sites in Bangkok. They were packed full with tourists (even though it’s the off season!) but they are incredible monuments; intricate, glittering and ultimately spell-binding. 

 

The royal family no longer lives in the Grand Palace, nor even in the city of Bangkok. Still, the queen and king’s pictures are everywhere in the city. Plastered on billboards and suspended above busy intersections, the royals smiling (or occasionally stern) countenances shine down on a seemingly adoring public. I say seemingly because it’s still illegal to besmirch the royals.  But in light of the country’s present political turmoil, maybe they are just as popular as they seem to be. 

 We visited Erawan Shrine, the site of the bombing earlier this year. It was full of locals and tourists making offerings for peace in the city.  

a woman burns incense as an offering

We visited a couple other shrines as well, including the massive reclining Buddha.  

 It was practically impossible to take a picture of the entire statue as its housed in a proportionately small building. The whole massive Buddha is covered in gold leaf paint, and it depicts the moment Buddha achieved enlightenment. Not napping, as a brochure made very clear. 

We also visited one of the tallest Buddha statues in the area.  

 Now, for scale, here is a giant Buddha foot. 

  Bangkok is chaotic and exciting,and I wasn’t entirely ready to leave when the time came. I only saw a pocket of the city, and it made me more curious about the rest.  But there are floating markets to explore, seas to kayak and elephants to meet. Until next time Bangkok! 

 

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