I arrived in Bangkok at 10:30 on a Sunday morning. I checked in to my hotel, a nice one located in the Siam center area, and then went out for a quick check of the surroundings. Most of my impressions after this quick walk were described in the first post about the trip to Thailand. Not only I walked 3-4 blocks around the hotel in several directions, but I also checked out on the public transportation, changed some money in the local currency and tried to identify some shops and restaurants around the hotel area. A part from this, I also checked the hotel pool and spa, which, in total, took almost my entire Sunday.
So, although I arrived in Bangkok on a Sunday, I consider the next Monday to be technically my first day there. With just as much information as I needed, I started to explore Bangkok completely “a l’improvista” . Please be aware that this post contains more than 40 photos, so if you’re on a slow connection or just short in time, make sure you bookmark it and come back later to fully enjoy it.
I though that going with BTS a little far today, maybe until the end of the Silom branch, to the main pier for the boats that are crossing the Chao Phraya River would be a good idea. I went out from the hotel a around 10:00 AM. Outside it was cruelly hot and humid, but apparently that didn’t stop those who make their living by selling food on the streets.
Just 50 meters away from this street food vendor it was Gaysorn Plaza with the boldly BTS rails curbing away.
Watched the morning traffic for a few minutes
And then walked 5 minutes to the nearest BTS station from my hotel, Ratchadamri
I had to go 4 stations from Ratchadamri to the final station, Saphan Taksin, which is also the main pier for the boats which are cruising the Chao Phraya river. I took a one day ticket (120 BAHT) and waited for my boat. This ticket gave me the possibility to go out and down at any station whenever I wanted to for an entire day. While waiting, I watched the spectacular boats of the luxury hotels from the other shore ferrying their customers to this side of the river.
I started to read the brochure they gave me with the ticket. Apparently, there were around 8-9 piers where you could stop and for each pier there were listed some main attractions. I had no idea how much time would take to go to a specific pier, not to mention how much it will take to actually visit every attraction mentioned, but I decided to give it a try with the temples Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Wat Pho was on the same side of the river but for Wat Arun I should take a ferry (3 BAHT) to the other side of the river. In around 5 minutes my boat arrived and I walked on board along with a crowd of curious tourists. In about 6 minutes we were already at the Wat Pho pier. I get down on the boat and slowly walked into my first Bangkok individual exploring adventure.
But even before getting out of the boat I started to see different things. This was not the luxury Bangkok I’ve seen so far:
And after getting out of the boat I was brutally hit by the smell of the small fish market
Minutes of walking from the fish market was the temple. A lot of guides were trying to find customers explaining that “this is a vely big temple, maam, you need a guide”. Near the walls, small chinese statues were watching the gates.
A few days later I learned that all those statues were used as a ballast for thai boats during their commercial exchange with China. They were going to China loaded with merchandise from Thai (silk, especially) and on the way back, in order to maintain balance, they were loaded with those kind of statues.
But after the statues, the real temple started to unveil:
At first, I was absolutely fascinated by the roofs, there was something so strange about the aggressive ends and the mix of colors. But once I was able to lower my camera a little bit, I discovered even more strange stuff. It was about those round formations called “stupa”. Each of these formation had a specific reason to be built. Didn’t had the time, nor the curiosity to find out what was the reason for all those stupas, but I did find the time to take as many photos as I want, from all the possible angles.
Getting closer to one of these stupas resulted in this:
And getting even closer, I was able to see all the magnificent details:
Some of the stupas were really complicated structures, one of these even had a golden warrior inside:
While walking around I literally stumbled across a room with a huge Buddha statue in it. Took off my shoes (you have to do that when entering in a cult room) and sat down for a while, enjoying the silence and the slow gestures of the other people who were actually bringing gifts in. Also struggled to find an angle which could accommodate the size of the statues (4 meters, from my appreciation):
After the giant Buddha room, I put on my shoes and continued to walk around. The temple was really big and my feet started to hurt a little. The heat and humidity couldn’t help much either. But the scenery was incredibly beautiful so I didn’t stop until I took every photo I wanted:
At last, after what I thought it was more than 3 hours of walking, I decided to leave Wat Pho and continue to the other temple across the river, Wat Arun. Couldn’t do this without paying my respects to one last little chinese guardian:
Only two days later I was going to be there again, but at that time I didn’t know that. I left Wat Pho, the temple which holds the largest reclining Buddha statue in the world (without seeing that statue) and headed for the pier. I waited for the ferry about 10 minutes and the whole river crossing took no more than 3 minutes. While crossing I watched the long tail boats, without knowing of course that in a few days I will actually ride one of those, in a rather strange incident.
But then again, I’d better stick to the story and tell it one day at a time.
Even at the Wat Arun temple I couldn’t get rid of those little stone guardians:
Only this time, some of their bigger brothers were already there, joining the show:
Wat Arun, or “the Tenple Of Dawn” as it was referred on the brochure seemed a little different than Wat Pho. It was much smaller on the horizontal but much higher. It had a central prang (building) that was completely outstanding:
On each of the four sides there stairs. At a closer look they seemed pretty steep:
How steep, I wondered. Wouldn’t be interesting to give them a try?
And I climbed to the first level. It was a pretty demanding task, and without those pipes on the edges it would have been quite difficult. On the first level there were a lot of tourists looking quite interested to the next level. But only very few of them actually climbed to the second floor. Well, there will be time for that later, I said, why don’t take some photos while we’re here?
But it was getting hotter and I felt like I have to finish my expedition pretty soon. So I started to climb on the second floor. After the first step, I realized it would be much difficult than I thought. Those people were looking and not climbing for a reason. But with some extra focus and after remembering that I used to do some mountain climbing when I was younger I managed to get o the second floor. The reward was fantastic, the view of the river was incredible, you could actually see the roofs of Wat Pho on the other side:
Before getting down I took one more photo of the stairs. Pretty steep, huh?
Well, my job here was done and I started to move toward the pier. One more shot of a gorgeous flower:
…and then back to the hotel.
Bangkok By Night
After eating at the hotel I thought it would be a good idea to walk a little around the Siam zone that I discovered a day before. It was slowly starting to get dark:
At the Erawan Shrine, just around the corner of my hotel street, there was a lot of people, offering gifts and watching the girls performing traditional thai dancing:
I crossed the street and watched a little the new Central World shopping plaza:
And after minutes of walking I was slowly heading toward the new Siam Paragon center:
The night was slowly embracing a Bangkok that seemed to never sleep. Not much more to say about my first day now. I got back to the hotel. A new day was waiting for me tomorrow.Tags: bangkok, chao phraya, thailand, traveling, wat arun, wat pho