One Night in Bangkok…

I flew into Bangkok from Phuket with Nok Air, and I was highly impressed. We got one bag (up to 15 kg) checked for free, along with a small snack and a cup of water. The flight attendants spoke English very well and were incredibly helpful and friendly. I had picked at a hangnail which ended up bleeding pretty badly, and when I asked for a bandage I got two bandaids and some alcohol-soaked cotton balls.  Unfortunately, Nok Air flies into the smaller Bangkok airport, Don Muang (DMK). I knew it was was going to be interesting to try and get from there to my hotel from the airport, and I was right.

According to Google Maps, it should be possible to take a bus from DMK to very close to where I was staying (Khao San Road). The tricky part was trying to find where this supposed bus left from. I wandered the airport and tried to figure it out without much success. I tried asking people but had trouble finding someone that spoke English well enough to understand which bus I was looking for (not the bus to the metro station). I finally got to a place where it looked like there might be a local bus outside of the airport compound. Several times in my wanders through the airport, I kept bumping into the same couple. I said hello and told them they looked as lost as I was. It turned out that we were looking for the same bus and were equally confused. I asked where they were going to see if it would be feasible to just share a taxi, and when they showed me the map with the location, it looked close to my hotel. I showed them my map with my hotel, and it turned out we were actually staying at the same hotel!

So we decided to split a taxi into the city. After a few tries, I managed to flag one down and explain where we were going. While we didn’t quite get exactly there, we got to the major shopping street, Khao San Road, which was one street over from where we were staying. We checked into the hotel, where it turns out we were next-door neighbors. So far, Bangkok was going great.

I had planned on meeting my friend Ella at the hotel. Ella was flying in from the States the same day but into the main airport. I had been at the hotel room for about 5 minutes before she arrived. We caught up on our trips so far and got ready to go explore Bangkok a bit. Of course we started with a late lunch and then we headed to Wat Pho (Po). According to TripAdvisor (and everyone I talked to that has been to Bangkok), Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) is the top attraction in Bangkok. We walked down to Wat Pho, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of Bangkok.

The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

Wat Pho is one of the biggest and oldest wats in Bangkok. A wat is a Buddhist temple that meets certain standards (temple, classroom, etc.), although the term can be used somewhere loosely to mean any place of worship except a mosque. Our first stop at Wat Pho was the main attraction: the Reclining Buddha. This statue of Buddha in his resting pose. This is one of the largest Buddhas in the world, measuring 15 meters high (50 feet) and 43 meters (140 feet) long. Or, in other words: it is massive. In addition to this main big Buddha, there are more than 1,000 images of Buddha throughout Wat Pho. This was my first time in a Buddhist temple, which was interesting. In addition to removing your shoes, your knees and shoulders must be covered as well. They had sarongs/smocks to borrow if you needed them.

Chedi at Wat Pho
Chedi at Wat Pho

In addition to the main temple, there are several smaller temples and other monuments, including more than 90 chedis or stupas. These conical-shaped structures often contain relics of Buddha or other important people (in Wat Pho’s case, members of the royal family). All of these are highly decorative and very interesting to see.

Wat Pho is also considered to be the home of traditional Thai massage. So we decided to have a massage here, even though it was almost twice as much as at other massage places in Bangkok ($6.50 for 30 minutes instead of $3.60). Similar to the Singapore Sling, sometimes it is worth more to have the experience of the original. This was the first time I’d ever had a professional massage, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. One of the differences between Thai massages and other types is that you keep your clothes on during a Thai massage. Overall, it was an interesting experience though I’m not sure it did much for me.

After our massages, we left Wat Pho and headed to Khao San Road. This street is full of vendors and shops selling clothes and other goods. We had a nice dinner of Pad Thai from a street vendor (total cost: $1.50). Since Ella was pretty tired from traveling, we called it an early night.