Thailand Diaries Part One

Since it is possible to travel by land to Thailand from Siem Reap, we decided to rent a taxi and cross the boarder.  You can also ride the bus or the train. We had to transfer to another taxi when we crossed the border since the one we rented does not have access. The people at the immigration aren’t big on smiling but despite this, you should still be nice since they have the power to deny access. There are a lot of porters and drivers who will insist that you go with them (especially since they know that you are not from their country and you do not understand their language) so stand your ground, put them in their place and keep calm. There’s a tourism office near the border and it’s best that you seek assistance from them.

Bangkok was a good two hours from the border. On the way, the driver pointed at the structures and shared  stories about them. The driver dropped us off at Bangkok Condotel since, according to him, it was near BTS and Jatujak (one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Thailand). After resting for a bit, we went to Khaosan Road aka Backpacker’s Road.

Khaosan Road

Blurred lines.
Blurred lines.

Khaosan Road is located in the Banglamphu Area of Phra Nakhom district. The road got its name from the word “khaosan” which means “milled rice” since the road used to be a rice market. Kho San Road is known as the backpacker ghetto since it offers almost everything a backpacker needs: good food, great music, funky finds, and cheap accommodations.

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Khao San Road at night
Listened to him play the guitar and the harmonica during dinner.
Listened to him play the guitar and the harmonica during dinner.
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I didn’t want to leave this store!

Khaosan has several pubs and bars. It’s shops sell local fruits, shirts, paintings, pirated CDs, second-hand books, plus many items a backpacker will definitely enjoy. The street vendors sell exotic food like barbecued insects and if you pay them 10 Baht, they’ll let you take a picture. At night, the road becomes a venue for a street party. People from all over the world gather to sing, dance, and enjoy the night. It’s like being in a dream and praying that no one will ever wake you up.

Ayutthaya

We went to Ayutthaya to visit the temples on our second day.  Ayutthaya is about an hour and a half from Bangkok, traffic permitting. A foreigner needs to pay 100 Baht for entrance to the temples. We didn’t have to deal with large tourist groups since we arrived early. We didn’t have to wait for a long time just to have our picture taken plus, we had the luxury of really enjoying the view and basking in the Ayutthaya ambience that had so much history.

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Black bird... fly.
Reminds me of a song from the Beatles

Ayutthaya, located in the valley of Chao Phraya River, was founded in 1350 by King U Thong who went there to escape the smallpox outbreak in Lop Buri. He proclaimed Ayutthaya as the capital of his kingdom, which later on became the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai.

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Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker

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According to history, the Burmese attacked the city and chopped the heads of the Buddha statues in 1767. The remains used to be gigantic reliquary towers and monasteries. The Buddha tree in Wat Mahatat, Ayutthaya is very famous because of the Buddha’s head that sits firmly in it’s tangled roots. To show respect, one must kneel or sit down when taking a picture with the Buddha.

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How the Buddha head got tangled in the tree is a mystery. Did the thief who stole it hide it there for safety? Did it fall from one of the statues? No one knows.
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Attempts to restore the Buddha statues.

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There are outfit restrictions. Some temples do not give access to people who are wearing caps, sleeveless tops and skirts that drop above the knee. It is also important to apply sunblock and bring an umbrella to keep the skin from the harmful rays of the sun, especially when doing the tour in broad daylight.

After touring the temples, we went to Wat Lokayasutharam to see the reclining Buddha. It is 37 meters long and 8 meters high. It is one of the largest in Thailand.

The reclining position portrays that the Buddha passed away peacefully.
The reclining position portrays that the Buddha passed away peacefully.

We then made our way to Wat Phanan Choeng to visit the Golden Buddha. This Buddha is 19 meters high and is called Luang Pho Tho. To the Thai people. the statue is a guardian for the mariners since “tears flowed from the sacred eyes to the sacred navel” prior to the destruction of Ayutthaya. This statue has undergone restoration several times.

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Grand Palace

If you’re on a budget and you have to choose between Ayutthaya and the Grand Palace, I say go for the latter. Yes, Ayutthaya is overflowing with history and it is indeed a wonderful experience, but the Grand Palace has so much more to offer.

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The Grand Palace is one of the popular tourist attractions in Thailand. It is located at the heart of Bangkok, and it is a complex of buildings. It was the official residence of the Kings of Siam until 1925. It is used for several royal ceremonies and state functions which happens every year.

There are also outfit restrictions at the Grand Palace. No shorts, skirts should drop just above the ankle, no sleeveless or see-through tops allowed. There are clothes that you can borrow in case you still want to enter (that is, if you’re willing to wear something that’s been worn by people from different parts of the world already). The entrance is 600 Baht (we cringed and backed out) and if you’re willing to pay extra, you will be given a tour guide who speaks your language.

We may not have entered the Palace, but overall, I still had fun. It’s not everyday that you get exposed to another country’s history and culture. There’s so much to see and do in Thailand. The structures are all so beautiful I couldn’t stop shooting! If I keep writing, I might bore you so I’m ending part one here. More of our Thailand adventures in Part Two! 🙂

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