Friday, April 9, 2010
Tip: There are stairs to the temples but I never counted more than eight.
So have a cold coconut.
Thais know this. Tour companies provide cooled towels and ample water, but it is at best a temporary alleviation. Change and wash clothes three times a day; shower yourself three or four times. Pack accordingly or do as one friend did, keep buying cheap T-shirts.
The other consideration: Bangkok is big. Huge and teeming with people (at least 8 million of the 10 million residents seem to be cooking, selling, walking or eating on the sidewalks), traffic, buildings, wires and incomprehensible signs. Fortunately taxis are cheap and tuck-tucks are cheaper. Use them. Also use tours, especially when taking side trips outside the city.
Warning: The skyway is modern, air conditioned, cheap and convenient, but there are stairs. Sometimes escalators, but always stairs.
Many, modern, elegant or efficient. I stayed at the Pullman Hotel, adjacent to the huge King Power Duty Free complex and near Victory Monument, where I was attending the meeting of the Society of American Travel Writers' Freelance Council. We liked our rooms, loved our beds the few hours we had to crawl into them but found it a lo-o-o-ng walk from the hotel's front door to the elevators; a consideration when you are weary, footsore and worn out from a day of sightseeing.
I had two memorable meals in Bangkok, dinner on the street in the Nana area and lunch at the elegant waterfront restaurant Supatra River House.
What to see
Wherever you look it is entertaining. The city is a no-ring circus with life and activity occurring everywhere and all the time. My not to be missed list includes the following.
Then, as I ended the self-guided tour during which I had shot at least 100 images, I came to the King's Coronation Room. After gazing upon his gilded throne I left, turned around and snapped off a photo at which point the armed guard jumped from his chair, grabbed me and ordered "Delete! Delete!" repeatedly until that and all of the day's other photographs had been removed.
Reclining Buddha, Wat Po
Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn is beautiful but you will encounter stairs. See it from the water at sunset.
The Pad Thai lady
Street life, day or night. Give yourself half a day to wander, eating on the street and
getting a feel for what life here is like. It's the only place you are likely to encounter Pad Thai, Americans' favorite Thai food.
Tip: The nimble kneed can climb the countless stairs but you can have just as satisfying an experience staying on the flat - if uneven - or occasionally tackling a few of the easier elevations.