Bustling Bangkok

bangkok

Everyone who has ever been to Bangkok will tell you one thing – Don’t bring any clothes with you. Bring an empty suitcase. You’ll get to shop until you drop (literally).

At first, I didn’t believe them. There must be something else that people can associate Bangkok with apart from it being a shopper’s paradise and a haven for jaw-droppingly-cheap wholesale goodies. But that’s exactly what it is – peppered with a culturally-rich, fast-paced city that doesn’t seem to ever slow down!

Accompanied by my mom, I went there on a work trip for a very interesting, eye-opening conference on disaster risk reduction, so most of the sightseeing was done at the side. One of the other first things that comes to people’s minds when they talk about Thailand in general is this:

Mango sticky rice!
Mango sticky rice!

You can’t go to Thailand and not try this! It’s the very epitome of a delicious, mouth-watering dessert. The best part is, you can find the mango sticky rice almost everywhere. They’re cheap, they’re tasty, and you must try them at least once. We must have eaten quite a few plates.

Staying at the hub of the city gave us the chance to try the local transport. We were quite amazed at how well and quick everything worked – Especially the local MRT system. Coming from KL, where our KTMs and LRTs have a tendency to break down (I was once stuck at the KTM station for 3 + hours because of bad weather and something malfunctioning), it was a breath of fresh air to see how fast the trains moved, and how on time they were. Each train had about 12 coaches (6 more than the ones we have), and they are a cheaper way to travel around Bangkok if you have the stamina to walk around. I’d say, take the train and skip the taxis and tuk-tuks.

We stayed at the Novotel Platinum in the heart of Bangkok itself (Lovely hotel! Highly recommended), which made exploring the city pretty convenient. Right next door is the Central World mall, one of the many places where happy shoppers go to spend their money.

One of the altars at Central World.
One of the altars at Central World.
The Platinum Mall courtyard.
Central World courtyard. There was a race event the next morning. If I had known earlier, I would’ve signed up for it!

There were plenty of places to eat around here. We opted for seafood, since a row of seafood stalls was conveniently lined right outside the hotel. Now, bear in mind that food can be expensive, especially if you stay somewhere within the vicinity of the city centre. Tourists swarm this area throughout the whole year, so at times we discovered that it was cheaper to eat at the hotel restaurant than to eat at the seafood stalls. But then again, that could also be due to the fact that we had seafood – Other street foods generally had an okay price (if you go outside the city centre a bit).

Pricey or not though, the food was definitely worth it. We came back here to eat again the next night because it was oh so good!

Fried rice and mussels. Yum!
Fried rice and mussels. Yum!

After the conference, I had a few hours to spare before heading to the airport, so we decided to visit the Grand Palace.

Inside the Grand Palace
Inside the Grand Palace

Come with a hat, or umbrella. The weather can be quite hot, and to add to that, you will most likely be visiting the palace along with hundreds and thousands of people. It does get a little overwhelming at times, but I would say it’s definitely worth visiting. The tall, elegant spires of the buildings, the beautifully designed roofs and tiled walls, and the history and story you find at every corner, makes for an interesting, fun visit.

All in all, I would say that Bangkok is definitely one of those places you MUST visit at some point in your life. There were plenty of other places we weren’t able to see (maybe next time) 🙂 It was the perfect mixture of urban excitement and cultural treats and insights, a place where you can feel the thrum and buzz of life and be buoyed by the energy of commerce.

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