Monday, 8 November 2010

The Eastern City of Angels

(Warning - a rather LOOOONG post!)

Yup, I am talking about Krung Thep! Or more commonly known as Bangkok to ferangs (foreigners). You may not know it, but Krung Thep is the actual name of the capital city of Thailand, but foreigners kept calling it Bangkok, as it was its old name before it became the capital city of modern Thailand, so that's why it's still called Bangkok.

And no I didn't decide to call it the City of Angels... Krung Thep translate into exactly that! But the full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. 

And I'm certainly most are not joking... It translates into The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.

Blimey! *faints*

And not only that, Thai people have such long names, which is why Thai people have two names - formal and informal names. Formal names, naturally, are their birth name, and informal names can be anything, for example my aunt Pla, which means fish. I've heard of Thai people being named after animals, foods (even sometimes using English, I heard someone named Apple, the English word, not the Thai word), characters (even cartoon characters), and so on.

Moving on!

It was once dubbed Venice of the East... no, not because it is a romantic city (although I do think it's a romantic city, if you know the right places... every city has its charms) but because MaeNam Chao Phraya (River of the Lords) were the central hub of Bangkok, everything revolves around the river back then. Now it has lost some of its charm, with motorways building over the wee canals, but hop onto the river bus on the river in central Bangkok and you'll find that it is a very cool way indeed to travel between major parts in the city! And quick!

Anyways, moving on once again... I will be listing the places you should see if you are ever in Bangkok.

Oh, before I start... If you want to visit any of the temples in Thailand, you must have something to cover your shoulders (i.e. no vest, a t-shirt is fine) and trousers or at least shorts that goes below the knee... If you haven't bring a spare trousers (even fishermen trousers) or didn't plan on going to one, don't fret! Most, if  not all, have a wrap around skirt and cardigan... trust me, they're a bit hot to wear!

OH! And this! Many taxi drivers (usually Bangkokians drivers - some drivers outside Bangkok arn't THAT bad) are mainly desperate and can be sly. Never go into a taxi if the driver refuses to put the meter on - they can charge up to 10, 15 times the amount. Someone went into the taxi from MBK to Khao San Road for 500 baht (10 quid), where it should be 50 baht (1 quid). Taxi are incredibly cheap - can be cheaper than skytrain depending on how many people are in the taxi. However, once you get into the city centre of Bangkok, I'd strongly reccommend the skytrain or even the underground if you can. The traffic is horrendous - worse than the London traffic! At one point, taxi didnt even move for 20, sometimes 30 mins!

1. Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn)

(Okay, the first pic is from Google, I never took a good pic of it from the river, hoping to change this next year!)

I really do love this temple, even though it's a small one. It's unique... Seeing this temple from the other side of the river during dawn is amazingly beautiful.

You can even climb the top of the temple! Warning, the stairs can be quite... narrow, so it is more tiring than you think, especially if you decide to go there at midday... have a bucket ready.

I suggest getting a river boat to the Temple. Easiest way is to get the Skytrain and get off at the Saphan Taksin station. It's beside Chao Phraya River and you can't miss the river bus stop - it's named Sathon Pier. You have to go to Tha Tian then get a mini ferry that goes across the river (Wat Arun Cross Ferry Pier stop).

2. Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang (The Grand Palace) 

(Couldn't find pics I took 3 years ago... mmm... I used pics from Google.. T_T but must see it next year, I haven't seen it for ages!)

This is one temple you cannot miss! It is quite famous with tourist so beware of the sneaky taxi/tuk-tuk drivers!

It contains Wat Phra Kaew, which has the Emerald Bhudda, which I love.

Get off at the Tha Tian pier - the other side of the river to Wat Arun. Or get a taxi at your risk! :) 

3. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

(Again, been a long time since I was there, so pics from Google again :(  Even I vaguely remember visiting this temple - again, shall have to change next year.)

The Reclining Buddha is rather gigantic! Beautiful as well. :)

It's not far from the Grand Palace so not difficult to get there with a map. :)

4. Erawan Museum

(Finally, my own pics!)

Such a BEAUTIFUL museum, definitely the best I've been in so far! It is very simple and one of the floors (the second picture) makes me feels like I transported back into the past.

It is the biggest statue/building in the world... Or so I think... My memory can be bad, you know! It is huge and just simply beautiful.

It is a MUST. I am going again next year. :)

5. Shopping/dining areas in Siam/National Stadium stations

I have a long list of restaurants in Bangkok that are amazing - MK Chinese Restuarant, Hachiban Ramen, Zen Japanese restuarant, Sweden, Sizzlers, Thai Siam, Hong Kong Noodles, Coco. All of them you can find in the main shopping malls, such as MBK, Siam Discovery Centre, Central World. However I'm not sure for Hong Kong Noodle - you can find it in Siam Square.

I am, however, in love with MBK. It's one of the best shopping mall for me! The food court!

Actually, I'm going to wait and decidate an entire blog just for this section! Food are too delicous! Shops are much grander than any cities in Britain - even London, because we can barter all night long! My opinion, of course. :)

6. Jae Jae/Chatuchak Market (Weekend Market)

The biggest market in the world, it is situated next to Mo Chit Skytrain station. It is so damn exciting, because there is an unbelieveable amount of shops in there! So many different foods! It's quite cheap to top it off!

And beware of the pet's corner... All the animals there are so damn freakin' cute! My sister once overloaded her brain with all the cuteness! Okay, much more than once. You may got "oh poor dogs/cats/rabbits/etc in small cages or small boxes", but let you know, I bet you that no animal have stayed there longer than 2 weeks. It's a very busy area, with excited Thais everywhere buying cute Peking dogs, rabbits with floppy ears, Siamese cats and so on.

7. Chinatown

Beware: It is very hot, cramped, easy to get lost in etc but it is worthwhile!

All the foods...  NOM. All the shops... MUST GETS! It even got little temples over Chinatown too.

Really, it's impossible to describe Chinatown... But I love the rush in there!

It's on Yaowarat Road, not far from MBK (20 mins I'd say) but best get a taxi or a tuk tuk.

9. Baiyoke Tower II

It is 85 floors tall! I'd reccommend going up to the top at night -  it is truly an marvellous sight! Bangkok comes to life at night. It's around 20 mins walk from Phaya Thai skytrain station. Maybe best get a taxi?

And I took this pic last year during night - I apologise for the bad quality, back then I didn't know how to take pics at night!

10. Sathon Pier (Chao Phraya River)

Why the hell are you directing me to a pier, I hear you say. Well, be patient! It is right next to Saphan Taksin Skytrain station so it is relativly easy to get there.

As I said before, this is one way of reaching Wat Arun (the best way, really!), you can hop on just for the sake of it... there's plently of temples along the river, because like I said, this certain river were and still is the central hub of Bangkok so you'll find plently of attractions around the river.

Reccommended Hotels

This is only if you don't mind not having a swimming pool but want a decent place to stay in the city and not stay in a touristy hotel, I strongly reccommend My House Hotel. This place wasn't far from my old house and I loved it. They don't serve breakfast (usually Thai people use this hotels) but it's clean, about £11 - £15 quid a night and it is IN a market (easy access to the heavenly Thai street food) and right next to the Ari skytrain station.

If you don't mind staying a bit away from the city, then Khao San Road is the best for you. There's alot of pubs and clubs - it's a very and extremely touristy place, probably the most touristy place! Food on market isn't that clean. I have to say Villa Cha Cha is amazing - got a swimming pool for the same price at My House Hotel! There's a lot of cheap hostels on Khao San Road too. There is no near Skytrain, river bus pier or Underground near there so taxi, tuk-tuk or motorbike taxi is your transport for most of the time.

Well, I'm afraid I don't know much about hotels in Bangkok, seeing I live in my family's house in Bangkok anyways! Even my very own Thai mother doesn't know, so go and check websites! I do know hotels/houses for rent outside Bangkok, however...

That is all for now, my mind is on the verge of shutting down... But I will post more when I think of some more noteable places to visit!

Next blog: either Thai food or Ayutthaya/Bang Pa-In Palace, one of my favourite places :)