When Tawn and I flew back from the United States to Bangkok in June, my sister Jenn and brother-in-law Kevin made the trip with us. It was an adventure as they have traveled very little outside the United States and never before to Asia. Thankfully, I was able to book seats on our same outbound flight and even arranged for seat assignments across the aisle from us.
Jenn and Kevin were an adventurous pair, willingly trying new foods and having new experiences. Here, we venture out for a typical Thai breakfast of curries and stir-fries served with rice.
We spent one morning seeing another side of Bangkok, going to Hualamphong railway station and boarding the intercity train for a trip to the suburbs.
Train cars in Thailand are antiques – most at least three decades old – and the third-class cars have no air conditioning. Definitely a different experience for visitors from the American midwest!
One morning, they took the Skytrain to Lumphini Park, the closest thing Bangkok has to a central park. I met them there in the late morning and then we walked to a nearby Isaan style restaurant famous for its fried chicken. In the above picture, the Dusit Thani hotel is the one on the left with the spire. It was the first high-rise building in Bangkok.
Another morning, we visited Wat Saket, also known as the Golden Mount. A steep, artificial hill and the highest terrain in the city, Golden Mount offers a nice view and also a nice breeze – much appreciated on a hot Bangkok day!
View from the top of Golden Mount, looking southwest. In the distance you can see the roofs of the Grand Palace.
Across the canal from Wat Saket is Wat Ratchanaddaram. The most famous building on the temple grounds is Loha Prasat, commonly referred to as the Metal Palace. This is a unique building, built in a pyramid shape with 37 spires (signifying the 37 virtues towards enlightenment) and modeled on two other similar buildings, one in India and another in Sri Lanka. Loha Prasat is the last of the three in existence and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The structure has recently undergone a full renovation and informative displays fill the hallways.
The symmetrical layout allows for refreshing cross-ventilation and also a sense of surprise as you turn corners and see the architectural features of the structure framed in interesting ways.
Loha Prasat has made its way onto my “must see in Bangkok” list, a list which I really need to update as I’m frequently asked for it.
We made our requisite trip to the Chatuchak Weekend Market, where Jenn and Kevin hunted for gifts for friends and family members with Tawn’s assistance.
We also visited one of Bangkok’s newest attractions, a nighttime market on the banks of the Chao Phraya River called Asiatique. Essentially a replacement for the now-closed Lumphini Night Bazaar, Asiatique is reached by free shuttle boats and has a range of restaurants and shopping. The space, a series of converted warehouses, is fun to visit although I was not particularly impressed by the goods for sale. That said, I’m not a shopper so my view may be biased.
Near the end of the trip, we went for drinks around sunset at the top of the Centara Grand Hotel at Central World. Bangkok has no shortage of rooftop restaurants and bars (a large increase from the two or three that existed when I moved here) and the Centara offers one of the best views, being centrally located. This also makes it onto my “must see” list.
We made a side trip to Chachoengsao Province to visit Wat Sothonwararamworaviharn, also known as Wat Hong. This beautiful temple is located on the banks of the Bang Pakong River and is the oldest temple in the province.
Tawn, who was born in the year of the rabbit, poses with an appropriate statue at the temple.
After two weeks, I think Jenn and Kevin were ready to head back to Kansas City. Hopefully, they will return next year with their two daughters and my parents in tow!