BANGKOK-The city of lights
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My Thai adventure begins with a low-cost-33-hours-long-flight. From Milan to Shangai with a lay over of 17 hours (do it just if the gypsy inside you is craving for it!).
Then, finally Bangkok.
During my five days spent in the capital of Thailand, I realized how crazy and astonishing this city is.
Bangkok is like a bomb ready to explode, filled with an incredible energy. You can feel it in the overcrowded streets, in the colorful markets, in the smell of food, in the traffic noise.
Bangkok never sleeps, it is always moving like a restless kid.
Its gaudy and dazzling colors and lights will overwhelm all your senses.
Premises about the Thai culture
The word Thailand means “the land of the free man”. A land rich of an extraordinary natural beauty. Beaches, waterfalls, jungle, ocean.
The Buddhism, at the base of the Thai culture, is practiced by the majority of the population; they regularly go to the temples to pray every day. Thai people apply the principles of the religion on their daily life, so violence and crime are very reduced (it’s very rare to get robbed).
Another useful thing to know: for Thai people the head is the sacred part of the body (so never touch somebody’s head!), while the feet are considered as the abysmal and dirty part (so, never touch anyone with your feet!).
If you are thinking about visiting the country, you must know some rules that could sound a bit bizarre for you.
For example, it is illegal to step on the note with the king’s face on it; you could be arrested if you drive without t-shirt or if you go around without your underpants (I’m not really sure about the last one since I heard it from other travelers on the way).
In Thailand, as you probably already know, people are very open about the transgender culture and the gender reassignment surgery is very common. If from one hand the open-mind set about sexuality is great, from the other hand prostitution and sexual tourism is like a cancer and it’s very bad to see it around the streets of Bangkok. So keep that in mind.
What to see
Before going to Bangkok you must equip yourself with three things: water, because you’re going to sweat 24h due to the humid warm climate; suncream because the sun is very strong; spirit of adventure and adaptation. The latter is probably the most important. You will be literally thrown into a reality very much different with the western culture. It could shock you somehow, but don’t worry too much and follow the flow!
Bangkok has more than 400 Buddhist temples. Just keep in mind that you would need to cover your arms and legs and take off your shoes before getting in since it’s a sign of respect.
The temples you must visit: Wat Arun e Wat Pho, where you will find a gigantic statue of the golden “reclining” Buddha (sounds cool, right?). In the same aerea you might visit the luxurious Real Palace, the residence of the beloved King.
Beside the enchanting Buddhist temples, Bangkok offers a massive number of markets. The city looks like a whole big open air market, so you’ll see vendors everywhere.
Any kind of stuff, from colorful clothes with oriental designs to shoes or souvenir, is literally poured on the streets.
If you want to buy cheap clothes and nice food don’t miss the Chatuchack Market, open during the weekend; instead you can do some wild shopping at one of the biggest moll, the Mbk, with 8 floors and 2000 shops.
A very folkloristic type of market, even though became very touristic, is the Floating Market. There are severals around Bangkok and they were built from the people who settled down along the river. So you have to jump on a boat to approach the vendors on the stilt houses. Surely an experience!
If you want to get out from the chaotic energy of Bangkok, you might have a short trip to Ayutthaya, which once used to be the biggest city. You’ll find a huge archaeological site with ruins of ancient buddhist temples and monasteries. You can get there by train (the ticket is just 15 bath) or by mini van from the center of Bangkok. Each entrance to the temple costs 50 bath ( a bit more than 1 euro).
How to move around the city
Getting around Bangkok is pretty simple, even though the traffic jam is pretty intense. You can choose among different means of transportation: the cheapest is the bus (7bath for a ticket is just 18 cents!). With its “vintage” look, the bus is perfect if you want to have a closer look at local’s daily life.
You can also opt for a multi-coloured tuk tuks, sort of a rickshaw driven by “peculiar” drivers, with whom you would need always to bargain the price in advance; some of them try to fool the tourists, so be aware of that!
You can also take the underground or a taxi; be sure that taxi drivers have the taximeter, to avoid any extra charge.
Oh, Thai food!
Thai food deserves a chapter in its own right.
Forget about fancy restaurant and bistrot: the real thai food must be tried on the street, among the several food markets and street vendors.
Walking around the street, the smell of food will overwhelmed your senses making you hungry. Sometimes what you see might shock you a bit: on Khao San road it’s easy to find some insects, like scorpions, spiders, crickets and worms (even though it’s more a touristic thing).
You might quench your thirst with many fruit shakes, made of mango, pineapple, passion fruits, coconut (don’t forget to try the coconut ice cream!).
You’re going to be surprised about the variety of the tropical fruit you can find here: the red dragon fruit, very exotic with its fucsia color; the durian fruit ,with its strong smell; then mangosteen, rambutan and many others.
The typical dish of the Thai cuisine is the pad thai, rise noodles with vegetables, meat or chicken, eggs and soy sprouts.
You’ll also find a large variety of meat and fish dishes and very tasty noodle soups; the soup with coconut milk and spices it’s worth a try, as well as the very spicy one, like the jungle soup.
Wild night life
You’ll see, Bangkok will turn your senses upside down.
Either during the day, but especially at night.
The city lights up with psychedelic colors, loud music and as always, the delicious smell of the street food.
If you are a party animals, Khao San Road, the so called backpackers street, gets crowded with travelers from all over the world.
So the party takes place literally on the street, where it’s plenty of stuff to do: you can dance, drink cocktail off the typical buckets, eat insects or anything else, get a henna tattoo or dreadlocks. Awesome, right?
If you’re looking for some quiet places instead, you might go sip your drink on a rooftop and enjoy the fluorescent lights of the city. Some famous rooftop bars: the 8th floor of the Marriot Hotel Sukhumvit, Sky Bar, Vertigo Bar.
Bangkok is not a quite city at all.The Thai nightlife won’t disappoint you!
So what are you waiting for? Go pack!
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