Rolled into Bangkok yesterday early in the morning after having spent the night in a sleeper car on a train from Chiang Mai.
Throughout the bumpy ride, a line from the 80’s hit, One Night in Bangkok, kept repeating in the cassette deck of my mind: One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster…
The capital of Thailand, Bangkok is home to 8.3 million people. It’s a modern, skyscraper-filled city…
with a 600-year past. Like most old cities, it got its start because of a body of water. The Chao Phrya River, the country’s major river, flows through Bangkok on its way to the Gulf of Thailand in the South China Sea.
Unlike the Ping River in Chiang Mai, the Chao Phrya rip-roars along with lots of boating traffic.
John and I arose early this morning and navigated the streets of Bangkok to find the boat ferry at the Oriental Hotel.
We road the ferry to the Royal Palace complex which includes the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Temple and surrounding stupas and viharns are, without question, some of the most spectacular man-made structures I have ever seen.
No photos could be taken inside the Temple, but wandering around the complex was one scrumptious piece of eye candy after another. It was dazzling!
Successive kings, including Thailand’s current king, have added to or restored aspects of the temple and Royal Palace. One of my favorite additions was a full-scale stone model of Angkor Wat (Cambodia was once a vassal state of Thailand) which was built by King Mongkut and finished by King Rama V for the centenary celebration of Bangkok.
I also enjoyed the little garden areas just outside the Royal Pantheon.
They gave your eyes a rest from all the glitter and gold.
After wandering for more than hour in the sweltering heat amid throngs of mostly Chinese tourists, we found a lovely, shady spot to rest and soak in the more understated beauty of one of the viharns.
Refreshed, we wove our way through the complex to the Royal Palace which was very elegant and quite sedate after all the temple glitz.
The current monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and assumed the throne in 1946, making him the world’s longest reigning monarch. Sadly, the Thai king died today.
Yet, the wonderful restoration of the temple complex he sanctioned in 1982 will continue to delight visitors from around the world.