Bangkok temple sightseeing

Bangkok Travel Blog

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Outside the hotel waiting for our minivan

I can't believe I'm actually writing this blog nearly 6 years after the trip, I guess when you're at home on New Year's Day and all the stops are closed, there's not really much you can do, is there?! So, this trip to Thailand has all kinds of special meanings to me because it was the first trip of mine after living in the US for nearly 5 years that wasn't just to India. Rather, I went to India for 3 weeks, and my parents and I flew to Thailand for a week.

My mum handled most of the booking - we went through a travel agency who would send us minivans everyday for sightseeing. The next part was where to go, and in true touristy fashion, we chose both Bangkok and Phuket. Those were the days where we didn't have direct flights from Bengaluru to Bangkok (Thai flies daily these days), and we had to connect via Chennai.

Golden Budda
The whole process was a day's job. We caught the morning flight to Chennai and wandered around in the airport for the whole afternoon, taking a 4pm flight on Indian Airlines to Bangkok. The flight's rather short, which is good as the service is terrible. I hadn't flown Indian Airlines in a long time and had almost forgotten how terrible they are.

Anyway we landed in Bangkok around 8pm  on Thursday night, and the airport was a sight to behold. It's such a tourist destination, and for all kinds of people apparently. I could tell straight off that I'd see lots of Europeans - parked were jumbos of all the big European carriers, in some cases many of the same. We had to stand in line for our transit visa, and then withdraw some money and went to the passengers' welcome area more or less a good 2 hours after we landed.

Temple of Golden Buddha
Our guy was waiting for us with a placard, so headed out and boarded his minivan before heading to our hotel. Driving on the streets of Bangkok I could see how organised it appears compared to India. The roads were clean, big, flyovers were actually getting constructed on time and people seemed to follow lane traffic rules! The drive was fairly long, and for the most part looked like a cleaner India, but that "Asian country" blueprint was definitely there.

Our hotel Amari Atrium seems fairly posh yet cheap. I could see tourists as well as flight attendents staying here. Infact there werre 2 sets of flight attendents (couldn't tell which airlines) checking out when we arrived. Checkin was a breeze, and this hotel is tall, tall tall. We got a room I reckon on the 16th floor - shame we didn't get any good views of the town.

Buddhist monks
One rather funny thing I noticed (mind you, this trip was taken when I was still a trip planning virgin: had no clue on Frommers or pre-travel research), I noticed this American guy (early 20s?) coming out of the lift with a Thai girl. You could tell she was a ..... well, you know and it was then that it struck me that the reputation is indeed true: Thailand is full of ****ers and rather brazen about it too. Slept well that night, well had to: apparently our guide was coming to pick us up at 7am the next day. I could see my mum set her timer for 5am. Oh no!

Breakfast was excellent. For its price, this hotel more than just overdelivers. You have a wide range catering more to the Europeans, with b'fast items' names written in 3-4 European languages. Anyway our guide came sharp at 7am and picked us up for perhaps the most cliched and touristy visits of the first day: the temples.

This was peak toursit pick up time, so the hotel had tons of Europeans all waiting outside for their respective tourist buses.

Our first stop was the Golden Buddha. This was the first time I was visiting a Buddha temple as a touristy attraction, and it sure lived up to its hype. Although, I'd hate to be a local resident going to pray, as the place is swarming with tourists, and the constant click click of photos. I got some really nice snaps of Buddhist monks all dressed up in that brown coloured robes. It was colourful. I should also mention that this was the first time I was using my digital camera!

From here, next stop was the Wat Suthat Thepwararam,  a royal temple of the first grade, one of six such temples in Thailand.

Construction was begun by His Majesty King Rama I in early 18th Century. Further construction and decorations were carried out by King Rama II who helped carve the wooden doors, but the temple was not completed until the reign of King Rama III in mid 19th Century. This temple contains the Buddha image Phra Sri Sakyamuni or "Sisakayamunee" which moved from Sukhothai province. At the lower terrace of the base, there are 28 Chinese pagodas which mean the 28 Buddhas born on this earth. Wat Suthat also contains Phra Buddha Trilokachet in the Ubosot (Ordinary Hall) and Phra Buddha Setthamuni in Sala Kan Parien (Meeting Hall). The sleeping Buddha also resides in this place. It's massive. Amazing piece of art!

What impressed me most about this Wat wasn't so much the insides as it was the outside.

Sleeping Buddha
I coudn't believe at that time that I was seeing something so colourful. No doubt through the years, I can say I've seen more meaningful, colourful and dramatic landscapes, but it was a surreal experience at the time to just stand there and see all those structures, for lack of a better word.

From here, our next stop which was a ROYAL waste of time was a Gem Factory. It's basically a bunch of boring workers supposedly "cutting stone in a precise manner", and then you're whisked off to the counters where a bunch of neatly dressed Thai ladies try to sell you the stuff. I wasn't one bit intersted. My parents marvelled at the concept, I for one couldn't wait to move on.

And finally, with our tour done, we had lunch @ KFC and headed to a market just to shop, just to get an idea of what Thai markets are all about.

This is pirate heaven. I mean - name it, you get it - Lacoste, Armani and a bunch of "French" perfumes. LOL! The bargaining of course is very Asian market'ish: haggle for a price, turn and walk away and they come behind you..... the usual drill, not that I'm good in it. Something that I've seen my parents do for years....

Oh well, got home that night around 10pm, my first night in a "foreign place", totally totally exhausted, couldn't wait to hit the sack!

Vikram says:
Good point - some of the temples allowed but some were stricter
Posted on: Jul 31, 2016
hightide says:
This reminds me of my first Thailand trip in 1996. Like you, we also went through a travel Agency. BTW: Did they let you in the temples wearing shorts? Not knowing that shorts weren't allowed inside temples, I only brought shorts - luckily, I was allowed in as they still considered me a child then.
Posted on: Jul 31, 2016
mountaingirl says:
Great blog! Congrats on the feature :)
Posted on: Apr 03, 2016
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Outside the hotel waiting for our …
Outside the hotel waiting for our…
Golden Budda
Golden Budda
Temple of Golden Buddha
Temple of Golden Buddha
Buddhist monks
Buddhist monks
Sleeping Buddha
Sleeping Buddha
outside, Temple of Sleeping Buddha
outside, Temple of Sleeping Buddha
Standing Buddha
Standing Buddha
professional masseurs at the temple
professional masseurs at the temple
One of my favourite pics, very col…
One of my favourite pics, very co…
Modern Bangkok
Modern Bangkok
The Gems factory
The Gems factory
Nice display of Japanese food at a…
Nice display of Japanese food at …
Thai sweets
Thai sweets
Bangkok
photo by: Deats