At the end of my first full week in Chiang Mai, I hopped on a quick 1-hour flight to Bangkok to visit my good friend Kieran. He’s been living there for about 6 months now, teaching English to school children, teachers and parents. I’d chosen this weekend because another friend of mine, Richard, would also be in Bangkok with a couple of days to spare before his conference started. Richard has been working for the BBC World Service in Bangladesh for a year or so, so it had been a while since I’d seen him too.
I’ll let the photos below do most of the talking, but I will say that I had a really brilliant weekend with these two lovely gents. I barely thought about work once, and really enjoyed relaxing and catching up with them. If I were ever to find myself dossing around in a foreign capital for a weekend, these two might well be my top choice for company.
I was told beforehand that I would hate Bangkok, that it was a lot noisier, busier, and messier than Chiang Mai. It was, but I didn’t hate it. Maybe it was the good company, or the relaxed pace we set ourselves, but it felt calm and somewhat gentle, if a giant metropolis of 8-15 million people could ever be described as gentle. I enjoyed taking the SkyTrain (like the underground, but on bridges above the city), fending off motorcycle taxi offers, and feeling comfortable as a tourist again.
View along the Chao Phraya river.
Crossing the bridge to reach the river-taxi dock on the other side.
Crowded river taxi. Any distance, 30p!
A little bit of evidence of protests going on. They seemed friendly and fairly light-hearted for the time being.
Apparently this is where the Prime Minister works. A woman told me I was stupid for taking a photo of it. Not sure if it’s a boring building, if it’s illegal to photograph government buildings, or if she just hates the PM.
Danish folk dancers performing inside Wat Pho. You know, the usual.
The great “reclining buddha”.
More of Wat Pho.
Another boat, this time on the canal. This one is splashy, hence the tarpaulin sides.
We had dinner at an anti-HIV/AIDS themed restaurant. It was nice.
On the Sunday we took the cheap train (60p) to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam (about 2 hours travel time, with 1 hour of the spent just getting out of Bangkok).
We rented red bikes for 80p. It’s what you do in Ayutthaya.
Memorial dedicated almost entirely to chickens. Yes, really, chickens.
My first real life encounter with elephants. They really are stunning.
Ancient ruins. Apparently the city boasted a population of 1 million people in the 17th Century, before the Burmese attacked, beheaded all the statues, and scared everyone away.
Poor attempt at a team photo.
My first encounter with tigers too, next to the floating market. They’re beautiful creatures, but terrifying nonetheless. This one wasn’t, he was pretty relaxed, but his friend seemed rather angry.
This elephant gave off an incredible air of shyness and sadness. It was heart-wrenching and comical at the same time.