My SE Asia trip (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam) started in Bangkok, Thailand. Like so many millions of tourists. But unlike most of the visitors who come here, no beach resort was on my itinerary. Instead, Bangkok seemed like a good launching pad for excursions and the rest of my journey to Cambodia and Vietnam.
But after spending some time in the neverending, Westernized city that is Bangkok, I regretted not finding a smaller coastal town instead. Don’t get me wrong, I have no reason to complain, per se, but the metropolis didn’t have much appeal to me beyond a few museums, temples and palaces. There are too many tourists for my liking and they “flavor” the whole city. In fact, Bangkok seems to have a case of “urban schizophrenia,” or confused identity. But the food is great! I also met up with my graduate school chum, Sareena, a native Bangkokian, 17 years after we graduated. She took me to a Buddhist temple, a highlight of my time in the city.
Photos from two of the most spectacular temples in Bangkok; Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of Emerald Buddha) and Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha). Bottom left, toes of said Buddha.
As always, I venture into local markets and Bangkok offered a lot to see. These nice chili-peeling women were kind to let me take a photo.
I arrived only weeks after a period of major unrest and violence. The police were noticeably tense though this pair seemed to have it all under control.
Khao Yai National Forest
A beautiful national park about 3 hours Northeast of Bangkok. I had a mega-hike planned out but it turned out the day I was there was a national holiday and thus trails closed and many areas occupied by picnickers. I managed to sneak into a unpopulated for some off-trail bush whacking in the area but didn’t get to see some of the wild elephants.
The former capital of the Kingdom of Siam, Ayutthaya, is about 80 kilometers north of Bangkok and easily accessible by minibus or train. Today a large park featuring Prangs and Buddha statues. Worth the visit for the history but also a laid back alternative to Bangkok.
Left, some temporary travel companions. When on the road you learn to strike up conversations, split Tuk fares and exchange experiences. The brotherhood of the traveler. Top right, patron saints of the cab drivers. Bottom, waiting for the bus…
Leaving Ayuthaya, in a rusty old Tuk.