TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE

Bangkok – A Wonderful Surprise

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

8 December 2018

Bangkok wasn’t originally in my plans. But when I found myself a mere 8-hour bus ride away, I couldn’t ignore the “fuck-it, do-it” voice in my head.

I thought Bangkok would be a bit like Las Vegas, leaving me feeling overwhelmed. Instead, despite too many tourists, there’s a wealth of temples. As I walk among them and through them I take every turn and go through every doorway, curious what might lie there for discovery.

Grand Palace, Bankok.

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2018

Passages lead to Buddhas which make me smile. They are simultaneously holy, funny and beautiful. The intricate tiles, gold and colors of each temple are humbling. I wonder how long it took to build them and how they managed to construct perfect angles and towers so tall. I love how the sun glints off the plethora of demons and gods everywhere I look. It’s as if everything was constructed to capture the brightness of the sun, and I imagine the moon.

“A city full of surprising diversity of people, temples and scenery.”

Tom Kha soup is the best I’ve ever tasted in my life. All this time I thought the thin broth with a piece of chicken and a mushroom were delicious. Bangkok ruined the soup for me forever. I had no idea it was really designed to be made with fresh coconuts, or that the thick broth would be so full of meat and vegetables that it was truly a meal.

Floating market in Bangkok.

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2018

Most of the time I have no idea where I am and speed through the city in a covered tuk tuk where I can’t see anything but the street. I learn that I should only ride in the yellow-licensed tuk tuks because their licenses are real. I find out that metered taxis are fake – and stick to the Grab App (the Asian version of Uber) to be sure I’m not ripped off. Eventually I figure out how to use the BTS (the above ground subway) and even dare to buy a Rabbit card so I can avoid lining up each time to buy a one-ride ticket. What’s comical about Bangkok is that it has two different subway systems and yet you still can’t get to most places you want to go with either! The subway has actual seats (as opposed to benches) and they’re large enough for a butt that hasn’t visited the gym the last few years…or ever.

I’m amazed at the floating market and even more impressed by the train market which appears and disappears when the train passes – a bit like a Brigadoon of food!

Since I’ve spent most of the year yearning for escape and nature and quiet, I’m greatly surprised by how much I enjoy walking in Bangkok and discovering hidden temples and weird shops in alleys. I find night markets and strange street food and even dare to eat a grasshopper. Bangkok is exciting and diverse with a river and modern buildings among temples and beauty. Definitely a surprising experience all around.

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