We flew in to Bangkok from Chiang Mai on a Sunday evening in January and quickly dropped off our gear at a friend's home to turn around and hit the streets. I was still recovering from some sort of horrible cold/flu/bug but powered through. (because how many times can you get a private tour of Bangkok?)
My friends know me well, so the first stop on the tour guide was to the delicious Charmgang Curry Shop. The set menus change every three-to-four weeks and each include a curry dish, steamed rice, soup, salad and something sweet. My palate definitely hadn't been tuned up for Thai spicy but every blazing bite was worth the heat.
Bellies happy and full we were led through some very narrow and possibly through some locals "yards" as we hunted for a small art installation.
After too many long stares by restaurant employees (location of small art installation) we left the venue and made our way through more allies to the fringes of Chinatown. We helped ourselves to some fancy drinks at some fancy bars in Soi Nana (one of Bangkok's nightlife neighborhoods.)
Talat Pak Khlong flower night market
By the time midnight rolled around I was completely wiped and ready for bed...but my friend sweet talked us to go to one last location, the Talat Pak Khlong flower night market. As usual, once I had the ability to use my camera, all previous foul flu feels seemed to disappear.
Bangkok Day 2
Food first is the way Marla likes to travel. After waking and showering we hit the streets of Bangkok again. First stop was a nice healthy lunch at Veganerie, a super yummy vegan restaurant. Bellies bountiful we happily roamed around Bangkok taking in all the intriguing sites as we made our way to the silk neighborhood.
Baan Krua Thai Silk Neighborhood
This canal side neighborhood dates back to the turbulent years at the end of the 18th century, when Cham Muslims from Cambodia and Vietnam fought on the side of the new Thai king and were rewarded with this plot of land east of the new capital. The immigrants brought their silk-weaving traditions with them, and the community grew when the residents built Khlong Saen Saeb to better connect them to the river. Today's Baan Khrua consists of old, tightly packed homes threaded by tiny paths barely wide enough for two people to pass. There's a mosque, and two family-run outfits, Phamai Baan Krua and Aood Bankrua Thai Silk, continue to be involved in every step of silk cloth production, from the dyeing of threads to weaving the cloth by hand on old wood looms.
Once you get to the neighborhood there are English-friendly signs leading you to the two families' homes where traditional silk-weaving is done. We entered one home and I quickly and quietly tried to snap as many photos as I could before I felt we were close to outstaying our welcome. I bought a nice royal blue piece of silk as a thank you for our home invasion.
Boat Ride to Golden Mount
Hands down, some of my favorite times in Bangkok was hopping on the boat buses. (Even though I might have almost lost an iPhone to said boat bus.) Pretty fun means of public transportation and you definitely need to be quick footed and non-forgetful unless you have a quicker footed husband willing to dash back to the boat to grab your left-behind iPhone before the boat bus took off to pick up more passengers.
Golden Mount was next on our site seeing list. Wat Saket (The temple of the Golden Mount), is located outside the old Rattanakosin island area of Bangkok and is one of the city’s oldest temples. During the Ayutthaya period, which lasted until 1767, the temple was referred to as Wat Sakae, but by the order of King Rama I the temple was restored and renamed Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan.
The structure of Wat Saket is distinct because of the 80-meter high mountain, called Phu Khao Thong (meaning Golden Mountain), where the temple’s main gilded chedi (or stupa) rests. This ‘mountain’, formed from the debris of a collapsed chedi commissioned to be built by King Rama III, was once the highest point in all of Bangkok. The Golden Mountain is a well-known and much revered landmark in Bangkok. A climb to the top of the mount is a journey of more than 300 steps.
Near the base of the steps is an unusual cemetery, overgrown with vines and trees, where the ashes of numerous plague victims of the late 18th century are buried into the base of the Golden Mountain. Because the temple served as the primary crematorium during this dark period in Bangkok’s history the cemetery and its surrounding neighborhood became known as ‘Ghost Gate’.
Evening Rain, Chang Chui Market and a Buggy Dinner
With Golden Mount behind us, we made our way to another boat bus and found cover to wait out the rain. The waiting game proved worthwhile as we got to ride the boat bus along the Chao Praya river to our final destination during a gorgeous sunset.
We landed near the Chang Chui Market which had an odd abandoned feeling to it. (But it sure was nice having the intriguing art exhibit all to ourselves.) We roamed from one weird art installation to the next until our bellies started grumbling...at which we were led to "Insects in the Backyard" a fancy dinner spot highlighting bugs on your plate.
More in the Making
After Bangkok we rented a car and made our way via day trips down towards Phuket (towards but not the actual final destination.) I'm still editing away on these images and hope to have some posted for you sooner than later. In the meantime feel free to check out my Wall Art gallery in the link below for any photo favorites you may want to don on your walls at home.