There is a reason Bangkok is the world’s No. 1 tourist destination: it’s beautiful, easy to navigate, friendly and offers delicious food.We experienced all of these qualities in our whirlwind tour of this popular — and humid — Asian destination today.
After a breakfast buffet in the hotel that had everything from eggs and sausage to kimchi, fried rice, and a honeycomb, we ventured out in groups to explore the city. My group headed underground to a train that would take us to the subway system from the airport area and get us closer to the downtown sights. Having spent time on the El in Chicago; the Metro in Washington, D.C.; the T in Boston; and Le Metro in Paris, I can say with confidence that the Bangkok subway system is one of the cleanest in the world.
The subway didn’t take us all the way to the river area where we wanted to be, so we hopped in a tuk-tuk (a motorized, three-wheeled vehicle) for a short, death-defying ride to the water. Over the next few hours, we also rode a bus, ferry (think of a packed subway train at rush hour, and then put it in the water) and taxi.
We visited Wat Pho, Thailand’s largest and oldest temple, which was first built in the 1780s. A 150-foot long reclining Buddha sculpture gilded with gold filled an entire building in the complex.
We also stopped at the Grand Palace,which was the king’s official residence from 1782 to 1946. The ornate, intricately designed buildings were spectacular and so different from anything we had seen before.
Our meals spanned the spectrum, from a super-cheap lunch at a roadside market vendor of noodle bowls with pork or chicken thigh (… and chicken foot) for about $1.30 per person, to a dinner of pad thai, tom ka gai and green curry on the veranda overlooking the river at a swanky hotel.
By 8 p.m., we were all ready to pass out … and some did in the cab on the way back to the hotel. We’ll be up before 4 a.m. to catch our last flight of the journey into Paro, Bhutan.
Jenn Crawford is the director of editorial services for UTEP's University Communications Office.