Bangkok Day 1: Getting lost and ending up at the Grand Palace eventually…

Hot, chaotic and busy. If someone asked me to give three words to describe Bangkok. I’ve been in the city about 24 hours now, and I can safely say that my first impression is ??????????? and then a few moe ?? for good measure.

So! Yeah, Thailand! I arrived yesterday on an overnight flight from London (I watched Dumbo) and went straight to my hostel. It was about 4:30pm here by the time I’d checked in and stretched out on my bed. My inital intentions were to do somehting last night, but the prospect of just lying and reading the book my sister got me as part of my “airport survival kit” was too strong.

This morning, however, I hopped up and headed straight into Old City, hoping it wasn’t going to get hotter or more humid (it, of course, did both). The woman in my hostel had told me to get the number 2 bus and vaguely indicated where it would be, so off I went, hopeful and sure! So, the bus stop she was talking about wasn’t marked. I kept walking. And kept walking. Crossing the road makes no sense when there aren’t lights already in place! I was dithering at a super busy intersection, wildly lost and not even able to cross the bloody road when I decided to tail a young Thai woman who had appeared beside me. Luckily for me, she spoke English and was heading in near enough the same direction as I was! Phew. She not only got me onto the bus, but took me all the way to the Grand Palace as an opportunity to practice her English. THANK YOU!

Honestly, it was incredibly stressful. I couldn’t read the road signs, I don’t have access to the internet unless it’s wifi, I couldn’t find anyone to ask … it was cumuatively very stressful for me. I was about 10 minutes from a full blown panic when this woman took me under her wing. While I had tried to prepare as much as I could before arriving, it’s not quite the same as not being able to locate yourself on the bloody map. My anxiety flared up and I think I would have enjoyed today a lot more if I hadn’t been alone – one other person makes getting lost an adventure, not an overly stressful situation

Anyway. The Grand Palace! I got there a little after 9am, as all the tours were starting to pile in. I didn’t mind the busy busy of it all as much once I was actually where I needed to be. Rather than wander aimlessly, I signed up to one of the free English tours taking place (10:00am, 10:30am, 1:00pm and 2:00 I think) and then wandered around anyway until the tour was due to take place. I’m glad I did the tour. FYI, my tour lasted about 2 hours!

LW O W

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha complex, the first part of the Grand Palace, is incredible! There are so may colours and styles and sections and things going on! Generations of personalities and styles and reflections have gone into building such an architectural masterpiece! There are some in the Sri Lankan style, with gold mosaic, some in the Thai style with the most ornate external decorations I have ever seen, there are Cambodian styles and a model of Angor Wat from Cambodia. There are gold statues and 12 feet tall demon statues to protect the Buddha and it just keeps going! I’m really glad I did the tour (even if I got confused as to which King Rama built/improved which bit)

A reflection of the Temple buildings in one of the lily pad urns
The roof of the Grand Palace and the Temple buildings are insanely creative! They make excellent photographs
Demons and monkeys holding up these honors to King Rama I’s mother and father. There are 20 demons holding
A to-scale model of Angor Wat in Cambodia with two different style buildings in the background – part of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. I haven’t been to Cambodia, but this temple looks crazy big
There are 6 pairs of demon statues to guard the Buddha from evil spirits in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Temple of the Emerald Buddha grounds
Banquet Hall of the Grand Palace
Part of the Grand Palace
Look at the level of detail! Isn’t it incredible?

Included in the 500 baht ticket (about 13 GBP) is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, some sections of the Middle Court of the Grand Palace, the Museum of the temple of the emerald Buddha and the Queen’s textile exhibit. I very much enjoyed all four of those things. The ticket also includes access to a performance but I am still deciding if I will go to that. It’s top of the things to do in Bangkok list for a reason. It’s awesome, even if architecture isn’t your jam like it is mine.

And oh, hey, guess which idiot was so excited to leave this morning she forgot her sunscreen and her hat? Oh yes, that would be me. My arms are very red. I haven’t looked at my face yet but I fear the worst. Good going Bea. Day one and I catch the sun. I have t-shirt lines.

Not only did I get lost trying to find the bus to get INTO Bangkok, I got into a frightful muddle trying to get out as well. I went back to the road I had been dropped off at, assuming it was just the opposite side of the road, but DING DING it was a one way street. Noooooooo! I had to walk a good twenty minutes to the main road, spend another five trying to figure out where I was supposed to cross and then the conductor didn’t know where I wanted to go so I hopped off probably a few stops early because I recognised something and knew I was at least on the right stretch of road. I decided to just return to my hostel, see about some food, and writing this post.

All in all, my first day has been good, if stressful, and I still haven’t decided what I want to do tomorrow!

Signing off now, one (1) tired and hungry

Bea

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