When was the last time an experience was a pleasant surprise for you? I’m curious about that now as I sit and process my past two days in Bangkok, pleasantly surprised at just how much I’ve enjoyed it here. Don’t get me wrong, I expected to like it – by nature I tend to go through life with an “everything is awesome!” outlook, but I had also entered Thailand’s main city with the preconceived opinion that it was a busy smoggy city much like any other. Everyone always says to get out of the city as fast as you can, and tour around the countryside instead. At the moment I tend to disagree, because had I left immediately I would have missed out on being wowed by the kindness of its citizens.
Thailand is in official mourning after their King died. I’m not sure what it would be like here during a regular day, but what I witnessed over and over again was the unique camaraderie that comes from a united population. All along the crowded sidewalks people would be stationed to give out free bottled water, or meals, snacks, and photos of the king. Thousands of them. And often an extra effort would be made to let us know we were also welcome to take what was being offered. Beyond that, there were several times both days when someone passing by would stop to point us in the right direction, translate for us, or even lead us for 10 minutes down the winding roads to our destination.
Many of the usual tourist highlights in the city are closed or adjusted this week, but the ones we did see were stunning.
We started at Wat Pho, the temple complex of the Reclining Buddha.
As per usual during my travels, much of the day was spent walking. I love seeing a city by foot and thankfully Tricia’s a good sport about that – we just need to make pit stops for food all the time and street vendors are the perfect solution!
Between all the eating and temple touring we found time to shop. Bangkok has everything you could possibly want, and more tourist-trap knickknacks than you can imagine so it’s easy to get lost in the markets. Figuratively and literally. The good thing about backpacking is how reluctant I am to buy things I don’t really need, since I know it just means I’ll have to huff it around for the next 20 days. I was feeling quite proud of my shopping self control, until I realized it’s really only the instant reward of lighter bags with the delayed gratification of knowing I can buy it all when I’m back here before my flight home. One for the win!
While wandering the shops along Khao San Road, happily hypnotized by all the sensory onslaught around us, we talked ourselves into trying a fish pedicure. Seemed like a fun way to cap off a day of new experiences. Aaaaand, we hated it. Yes, our feet were soft after the little fish ate away all the dead skin but I can achieve the same with a pumice stone and way less ick factor. I was suddenly reminded of my biggest childhood fear in the summers at the lake: “What if fish come and bite my toes?”
Early morning of Day Three has us meeting up with our tour group and setting off to Cambodia. But before we go, here are a couple more shots from Bangkok.