Photo Essay / RTW / Thailand

Bewitching Bangkok

Bangkok is an assault on the senses. Mad Max tuk-tuks careen wildly through traffic while the Skytrain glides effortlessly above. Sleep-deprived backpackers rub elbows with cellphone-toting monks and neighborhood masseuses.

Shimmering skyscrapers and modern malls are juxtaposed with ancient Buddhist wats and Chinese temples. Street food stalls turn out 5-star fare. And the unrelenting humidity is guaranteed to wilt the faint of heart.

Sophisticated and shameless, modern and ancient. That’s why I love Bangkok.

“If current travel patterns persist throughout 2013,
Bangkok will overtake London as the world’s most-visited international city.”
–USA Today

You will not come away from Bangkok feeling neutral … or bored. And once she casts her spell, you’re helpless in her powers. Just give in and enjoy the ride.

This weekend we’ll launch this summer’s “Saturdays in Bangkok Series” – revisiting one of our favorite stops on our recent Round-the-World trip.

See you then,
Terri

P.S. A Little Bangkok Trivia

Bangkok holds the record as the longest place name in the world! Thais call their city Krung Thep – which roughly translates to “City of Angels” – a short version of this ceremonial full title:

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลก ภพนพรัตน์ ราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์ มหาสถาน อมรพิมาน อวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะ วิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

It’s pronounced something like:

Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit

Whew! Now that’s a mouthful!

49 thoughts on “Bewitching Bangkok

  1. I loved Bangkok when I was there for a few days in 1975 – no shopping malls, multi-storey apartments blocks or modern transport. I remember a relatively flat city with temples and small hotels. The floods had been through and the streets were 3-4 inches deep in water so it was hard to cross from footpath to footpath. But it was the temples & people I remember the most.

    • Hi Vicki, Bangkok’s fabulous temples and wonderful people are still there, but I would have to say that the city has grown up (literally) around them. Now modern mixes with ancient. But the incredible rainfall still brings deep water to the streets – we found ourselves wading several times! I’m so glad you stopped by because I love your photography! All the best, Terri

      • Thank you, Terri,
        did you happen to see my photos of Melbourne’s Thai Festival athttp://victoriaaphotography.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/thai-culture-food-festival-federation-square-melbourne-3/
        (I have to say, these were some of the best I’ve taken at this festival over the years it’s been held here). Friends who lived in Bangkok for 3 years started this Festival some 10 years ago and it’s got bigger and bigger as each year goes by.

        I’d like to re-travel Asia (if I had the health & finances) – so much has changed in the more well-known areas, but I’d like to see the less travelled countryside – maybe in my next life, I might be lucky enough to travel again.

  2. We traveled there on our honeymoon 13 years ago and hope to go back later this year. Look forward to your insights! Love the blue and gold of your pictures! Beautiful!

    • Sheena, what a marvelous place for a honeymoon … and memorable! We had 10 years between visits, but will now make it much shorter! So glad you liked the pictures. :) ~Terri

  3. I don’t think that’s a piece of trivia I’ll be repeating any time soon, Terri! The shimmering gold and lovely colours gladden my heart on this wet old English morning. Looking forward to the series. :)

    • Oh, thank you Jo! It is an amazing tongue-twister. :) I remember how English mornings can be a bit unpredictable this time of year. Are you home for long or heading back out to explore? ~Terri

      • I have an exciting Steampunk event in Nottingham with my daughter next weekend, then back to the Algarve in July. The rest’s all in my imagination, Terri. :)

  4. I always thought this was the longest place name in the world – Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – thanks for setting me straight!

    • And Linda, if you can believe it – I’ve been there when I was working in the UK! Too Wild! :) Wikipedia says it’s the longest place name it Europe – pretty cool. I think that Bangkok only inched it out by a few characters. ~Terri

    • Thanks Tanya. Even though Bangkok is becoming more popular, it still feels like a “discovery” – something fascinating around every corner. Hope you make it there soon. All the best, Terri

  5. I think blues, gold, and white just became my newest favorite colors :) I love the intricacies of statues and architecture. I can’t wait until Asia and its surroundings make its way onto my travel list, but it’ll be a few years still. Europe for the first time this summer, hopefully South America next year, so maybe Asia will be on my list for 2015?

    • Thanks Jen! You just can’t go wrong with a blue sky like that! It took us a while to get to Asia, too. Maybe that helped us appreciate it even more because we were so psyched! Fortunately there are some wonderful airfares to Asia – particularly if you look at CircumPacific deals. It’s so exciting to have South America and Asia in your future! :) ~Terri

  6. A very timely post for us as we anticipate spending a good amount of time in Bangkok next winter. BTW, can you remind me again of the camera that you use. You wrote a post recently linking back to a post about your camera, but the link did not work for me. Is it a Canon SX50 HS?

      • Thanks for the information. I like the price of your camera more than the one I was looking at so I am going to look at those specs next. On your post dated 5/13, regarding the black skimmers, you had a link to your travel camera and when I click on it I get that dreaded message “oops, can’t be found”. Is this the only camera you work with, because if so, it is fabulous and I’m sure the users are pretty fabulous photographers also! As far as the work on this end, most of the heavy lifting is done. We are now onto the emotional topics, such as driving, Plan B for living, personal hygiene, etc, etc. This list here is very long and the fun is just beginning as we are dealing with a mother who is very difficult. Having said that, I’m sure there are lessons to be learned here for all of us. Hope all is well on your end. :)

      • Hi LuAnn, Thanks so much for spotting that bad link for me – ghost in the machine! I fixed it now thanks to you! Yay! As to the camera, all our photos from the RTW were taken with a little $100 Canon point-and-shoot – not even the whizzy new one. I think it must be a testament to Canon’s quality – no matter what the size or price tag. As to Terry’s folks, I can see you’re now into what James and I called the “tricky bits” when we were helping his Mom. And if I project ahead, I doubt that either one of us would be a “walk in the park!” Everything you’re doing shows your love and compassion … and that’s what counts. Hang in there. All the best, Terri

      • Thanks Terri for your words of encouragement. As to the camera, I love my Canon S100 but would love to have another with a better zoom. I have been doing a lot of comparison shopping and I keep coming back to Canon models.

  7. Looks to me as if you cudda taken those pictures with a Brownie (remember those?) and they would’ve popped as they do here. Nonetheless, a good camera makes all the difference to the traveler, and your posts are ample evidence.

    • Oh Tom, I loved the Brownie! It just seemed like total magic. We took these photos with a little $100 Canon point-and-shoot – it’s all we carried on our RTW. In Bangkok we were just blessed with those gorgeous blue skies and exotic subjects. :) ~Terri

  8. I’ve never been able to resist a great demon, Terri! :) And your last photo is superb. I traveled to Bangkok once but it was far too long ago. Besides the temples, what i remember was the air pollution. Hopefully that is no longer a problem. Curt

    • Isn’t he a doozie, Curt! Such a fierce creature … and they were all over! The temples are still there, but I can’t say that the air pollution is gone. It seems that Bangkok has grown on me over the years – the more I relax, the more interesting Bangkok gets! :) ~Terri

  9. Great photos. While the palaces and temples are well worth seeing, the food is delicious and cruising the klongs is fun, Bangkok is far from my favorite Asian city. Too big, too noisy, too polluted and just disastrous traffic (although the sky train and the ferries help). I keep winding up there because it is such a transport hub, but I’m usually eager to get out – to Vietnam, to Laos, to Cambodia or even to other parts of Thailand.

    • Thanks so much! i agree wholeheartedly with your pros … and your cons! Bangkok is all those things. And I love getting out to all the other wonderful places you mentioned. It seems that as I’ve relaxed and mellowed, my tolerance for Bangkok’s quirks and wackiness has increased … and I’ve explored further. That said, there are still times when it drives me nuts! :) ~Terri

    • Oh Leslie, you’re so right! We love Chatuchak … James even managed to get a great deal on a watch there (his had just broken)! And I picked up a great little travel umbrella because the Airport Security in Amman, Jordan had confiscated mine! Thanks for the kind words. I loved your post about house hunting in Thailand – brilliant! House #4 totally rocks! Hope you’re settling in well. All the best, Terri

    • So glad to have you here! I remember my first reaction to Bangkok was not favorable, but then it got under my skin and I now love it! :) Lucky you to live there! ~Terri

    • Thanks Jax, so glad you stopped by! We always seem to have itchy feet, too – that’s how we ended up in Bangkok! Love your blog and look forward to looking at more. All the best, Terri

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