A beautiful chaos. Arriving on the airport rail link into the heart of the city, where heady smells, blanket heat and bustling noise immediately greet you. Everyday Bangkok Hostel was a fab place for our first few days, a bit far out from city centre but in an exciting area and only a short metro ride from the central action. On the first day in Bangkok we explored the main part of the city whilst trying to acclimatise, both to the heat and crowds. We passed the Golden Buddha temple and Celebration Arch near the main station, but the best bit by far was where we ate – Chinatown! There were market stalls everywhere (including all over the road). The food was great but I have to say we avoided scorpion lolly sticks and cricket popcorn, not too appetising for adventuring novices… This was all fairly late in the day as jet lag meant we woke up at 4pm. Fresh lime and pomegranate juice kept us going.
Our first full day in Bangkok was jam packed; our feet hurt afterwards but it was well worth it. First stop after a very long walk was Wat Pho, a temple that houses the 50ft reclining Buddha (covered in gold), and statues and gardens that were out of this world. Wat Pho is also the home of the first ever massage school, so of course for £5 we got a 30 minute traditional Thai massage.
Outside the temple complex, we found what we had been waiting for: top notch Thai street food. Pad Thai from a local street vendor (50p a portion) and Green Thai Curry with coconut juice straight from the shell – amazing.
On our second day we opted for a bike and boat tour with the Co van Kessel company at River City. Fate stepped in and cancelled the 9hr tour we originally booked and we went instead on a 5hr route (my head and body appreciated this by the end). A guide took the group (all on yellow bicycles) through the tiny, choca streets of Chinatown, down the busiest main road in Bangkok, across and along the river to the south side, onto a long boat that took us through the winding canals of outer Bangkok, over very narrow ramps perched across banana, lemongrass and coconut plantations and around quiet suburban streets before returning at dusk by ferry. It was hot, hard work and a bigger challenge than expected owing to many years absent of riding a bike, but it was honestly the best thing we could have done to try and experience a bit of the “real” Bangkok. Best experience by far.