Much before we became seasoned travellers or thought of starting a travel blog, somewhere in 2007, we set off for our maiden international trip (together) to Thailand. Although it was a group tour, the price of the tour was what made us opt for it. It was the first and probably, last time, we opted for one. And before you dismiss Bangkok to be yet another tourist trap, we’d like to say, however commercialised Bangkok seems to be, there’s always an opportunity to explore a different side of it. Probably, the case with most places – you’d argue.
The main hurdle I faced writing this post, was remembering names and places. Honestly, I have that problem with most trips, but, this one dates a really long time back. So, I thought of listing the top 5 things you must do/see/experience in Bangkok. A lot might have changed in Bangkok; we’re pretty sure these would have stood the test of time.
Get a Healthy Dose of Culture
Thailand is one of the few countries to have a Monarch as the head of state. The Grand Palace should be your first stop in the city. Unfortunately, the palace was closed on the day of our city tour and all we managed was a fleeting glimpse. There are many Buddhist Temples to explore. Wat Arun is quite exceptional with its spots of green, triangular temples, and shimmering golden statues. Look closely and you’ll find elements of Hinduism in statues and motifs.
Walk the Streets & Back-Alleys
The streets of Bangkok have a deceptive quality. During the day, they look like any other street – with bustling traffic and areas of quiet seclusion. Come evening, they light up in a riot of neon colour. It’s what you’ve heard of and what attracts many tourists to this city. It’s a contradiction of sorts and yet, in a way, an eye-opener. The streets are also lined with stalls of fried delicacies – most of them belonging to the insect family. It does take some time to get used to the strange whiff in the air. Local bands fill the night with music.
Explore Local Flea Markets
While most shoppers would head to the malls, the flea markets is where you get a wide range of interesting trinkets and souvenirs. I remember picking figurines made of animal bone and wooden candle-holders for our apartment. It was the first of the series of travel souvenirs – that would come.
Test Turbid Waters on a Ferry Ride
In the month of March, there can be an occasional shower. The ferry offers a vantage view of the cityscape – with Wat Arun in the distance. We’ve heard, the floating market is equally good. Something we missed on our trip.
Call it a Day with a Relaxing Massage
Clichéd as it might be, there are some-things you must do on a trip, and getting a massage is one of them. We entered this shady looking massage parlour. I was apprehensive as we were guided to the first floor. After a change of clothing, we waited patiently. Each cubicle was covered with curtains and the aroma of scented oil filled the air. Our masseuses were two frail looking, but really strong Thai women. I’m not sure how could they twist my body in opposing directions and yet make it feel so good. I guess some questions are best left unanswered.