This past November I went on a big trip to southeast Asia– Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The first city I discovered was the city of temples and tuk tuk’s – Bangkok.

One of the streets in Bangkok.
It took 25 long hours of air travel to get there from Entebbe. I was eager to get off the plane, relax, walk about, and try the food everyone praises. The humidity was certainly the first thing I noticed. It was like I didn’t have enough air. The temperature was sticky sweaty and hot.

Bangkok is the biggest modern city I have ever visited, and I felt like an ant amongst the giants in a land of intense street sights of serenity and seduction.
On my first evening I attended a couch surfing meet-up group where I met other travelers and was introduced to Thai culture. It was nice to try local cuisine and learn some Thai phrases. If there is one phrase that definitely sums up Thai life, it’s “same same” — a simple life-is-life philosophy that you’ll see on more than one t-shirt or handbag. Here’s an explanation:
Tourist: Are those expensive sunglasses, or cheap sunglasses?
Thai: Same-same.
Tourist: Is that a lady, or a lady boy?
Thai: Same-same.
Thais use simple English when communicating with foreigners which is really unique, cute and endearing.

Art Museum.

That evening I toured around Siam (an area in the Pathum Wan District of Bangkok) with the highlight being a museum dedicated to the memory of the late King Bhumibol Adulydej. The art was gorgeous! There were a million street cart vendors who can set your mouth aflame!

Fancy tuk tuks in bangkik. These are expensive.

First time sightseeing in Bangkok.
Fellow African in the city of Life.
Later in the day with a Tunisian friend I had met we decided to go to the Chatuchak weekend market, the biggest in Asia. I had never seen a market this big. They do sell all kinds of clothing and trinkets at very reasonable prices. It was my second day of the trip and I was fighting so much temptation not to buy anything. I did my best but still got some small gifts. After wandering around, we sat to have some lunch and then window shopped.

Chatuchak weekend market.

Some of the door signs.

Having a coconut ice cram at Chatuchak
I did not find the transport system in the city that cheap but I used the metro frequently (it’s called the BTS Sky Train) and it’s simple. They have a transport app called “GRAB” which you can use to move around by either taxi or bike, the meter taxis are reasonable but you can still negotiate a price by asking the driver not to use the meter. I did that a lot. You are supposed to haggle on everything if you want to save and travelling on a long term basis.
GRAB is green and yellow while pink is Meter Taxi.
The next day I visited some amazing sacred sights! Upon crossing the Chao Phraya River I noticed the striking Wat Arun temple (translated as The Temple of the Dawn). It looked spectacular even before we got in! We walked around though could not enter because it is still under renovation. I just could not get over its beauty! It was one of my most amazing views on this whole trip. There is nothing like it and be sure to seek it out when in town.
The next sight on my list was the Grand Palace. It was so big and beautiful but with many tourists! It is hard to take a decent photo. There were many beautiful buildings within, each looking different. The palace was the official residence of King Siam since 1782. Do not leave Bangkok without visiting this palace. Dress code is long clothes and shoulders covered. Don’t be caught off guard and start buying new pants and shirt on the street.
My last activity of the day was visiting the Royal crematorium. This is the most amazing crematorium I have ever seen, it is where the late King Bhumibol was serviced. Inside there are buildings that present the culture regarding the ancient ceremony and an exhibition about the life of his Majesty. The kind King died on October 13, 2016 followed by one year of national morning. Cremation occurred on October 26,  2017. The crematorium was all golden and the architecture is brilliant. I am glad I got chance to see it as of now it is permanently closed.

The gorgeous Wat Arun temple.

Outside the Grand Palace.

Inside the Grand Palace

The crematorium.

Later I went to meet a friend at the BMK Shopping Center which is one of the world’s largest malls with 600 shops, restaurants, cinemas and games. We had delicious sushi and then participated in a physical adventure game that involved solving a riddle. It was so good! It’s called “The Escape Room,” and each room had a different theme with varying levels of difficulty to solve.

This was one mean sushi

Right after the game.

Bangkok never sleeps. It’s always awake, at all hours.  From sun up to sun down the sights never cease. I visited the famous Khao San road and it was really crazy and memorable. There are many bars, street food, shops, massage parlours and big crowds of tourists. If you like to party, the night life here won’t disappoint.
I went to Soy cowboy, a notorious red light district. All these months later I’m still not sure how to process it! Make sure you check out a sky bar in Bangkok, it’s so worth it!
If you need some quiet time to decompress and meditate, visit Lumphini park. A small lake’s there and you can rent a paddle boat while feeding the fish.

Excitement at Khao San
A certain sign at Soy Cowboy.
Bangkok skyline

Bangkok might be busy but spending a few days to explore it will be unforgettable. The ornate shrines and vibrant street life contribute to making it a world renowned city every traveler should check off their list!
Will be back with Krabi!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *