A Night Out in Bangkok
After an incredible week of relaxing massages, daily snorkeling and reading trashy romances on the beach, I had to say goodbye to my family and the beautiful island of Samui. But before taking off to Boston and facing the inevitable prospect of job hunting, I had 10 hours to explore the capital of Thailand, Bangkok. And here’s the thing: even though I tried to soak in its powerful energy and unique spirit to the best of my ability, less than a day is definitely not enough to grasp all the intriguing things the city can offer.
I arranged a guided tour with a former Russian man who moved to Bangkok to become a woman and who warned me beforehand she had just gone through a sex change surgery. She was the most open and sincere person I’ve ever met, and we had a great time. I couldn’t have seen as many places in 10 hours if it was not for my know-the-right-people-at-the-right-places guide. Avoiding lines and getting freebies definitely helped to save a lot of time.
We started a sightseeing tour of the city by driving around the major architectural and historic venues. Bangkok is a modern metropolis that perfectly combines luxurious skyscrapers, elegant restaurants and posh nightclubs, with traditional Siam architecture and Asian hospitality. Here is a fun fact: Bangkok, also known as “The City of Angels” translated from Thai, boasts the longest official place name, which is credited in the Guinness Book of World Records. According to local tradition, long names are intended to honor places or people; therefore, the names of the members of the royal family also require some memorizing.
The city’s original name is pronounced as following: Krung-thep-maha-nakorn-boworn-ratana-kosin-mahintar- ayudhya-amaha-dilok-pop-nopa-ratana-rajthani-burirom-udom-rajniwes-mahasat-arn-amorn-pimarn- avatar-satit- sakattiya-visanukam, which means “the city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated God, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.” Tough, huh? And every self-respecting Thai must know it by heart.
Everywhere in Bangkok you can see numerous portraits of the king and the queen, and other members of the royal family. One of the princesses is actually a successful movie star, who started her acting career after her failed marriage to an American man. I also noticed many people wearing yellow and blue wristbands, which symbolize support for the king and the queen. As far as I remember, yellow is the color of Monday, the day of the king’s birth, and blue stands for Friday, the day of the queen’s birth.
While in Bangkok, you should visit the beautiful Grand Palace in old town that strikes awe with its brightness and intricate architecture, implemented in traditional Thai style. There you can pay your respects to a statue of the Emerald Buddha, whose image is highly venerated in Thailand. The statue is carved from a single block of emerald, which makes it even more impressive.
Also check out Wat Arun—The Temple of Dawn—that is especially gorgeous at sunset. Shop around in China Town or dive into the hustle of numerous hectic markets of Bangkok. For a unique entertainment experience, see a travesty show featuring glamorous style, haute couture costumes and a passionate performance.
My personal favorite venue was Baiyoke Sky Hotel, located in the Pratunam district of Bangkok. It is the tallest building in the city, rising up to 309 meters (about 1,000 feet). The 82nd floor is a popular tourist destination, as it offers a magnificent view of Bangkok from its revolving observation deck. One floor below, you can enjoy the same view while dining at the Bangkok Balcony, the newest international buffet outlet. I’d say it’s worth checking out not for its food but rather for its huge panoramic windows opening to the bright lights of Bangkok at night.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Bangkok story, and perhaps I’ve encouraged you to share your impressions of this urban jungle with me. In my next post, I’m going to write about the northern pearl of Eastern Europe, beautiful St. Petersburg, so swing by and learn about its unique essence and dramatic history.
Sources: Bangkok Boasts Longest Place Name