Where's Baldo?

2 Days in Bangkok, Thailand

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AquariumsAsiaBangkokDessertsShoppingTemples & ChurchesThailand
Article author: michael
michael
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This is the 8th part in my Vietnam & Thailand 2019 series!

You can view my Thailand overview page, as well as my Vietnam overview page with links for all the cities I stopped at.


Day 24 (continuation)

Day 24 started with me still in Phuket. It was my last day in Phuket, and I flew into to Bangkok in the afternoon. My girlfriend was joining me once again, but she’d only be arriving on the morning of day 25, so I only planned to explore the streets near me a bit and look for dinner for my 1st afternoon/evening here.

Fly from Phuket to Bangkok

Getting to the airport in Phuket from Phuket Old Town was easy, as there’s a shuttle that brings you right there. You don’t book tickets in advance, just pay in cash once you get on the bus. The bus from Bangkok airport into Bangkok was also quite simple, and even cheaper than the shuttle in Phuket, but in Bangkok it was a regular city bus, not a shuttle.

In Bangkok, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I booked a hostel one street over from Khaosan road. In retrospect I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, I guess it depends on your travel style, but it was damn loud at night! Like I needed to wear earplugs to sleep loud. For me personally, that’s not a good thing, but if you love to party all night this is a great spot! 😂

Check into Darin Hostel

So as I noted, the hostel I booked was right next to Khaosan road, on a street called Rambutree road. As usual, I booked a private room with ensuite bathroom. The room was tidy, but man was it tight! So tight, we didn’t have room to unpack any of our bags.

Darin Hostel

Darin Hostel

Darin Hostel

Darin Hostel

My main issue though was the noise at night, which again is fine if you want to be right in the middle of the action, but my next time in Bangkok (which I’m sure there will be), I’ll be looking for a quieter spot.

After checking in, I walked around Rambutree road for a bit, ran into a girl I had met in Phuket, and then found a restaurant to eat at.

I had Pad Thai, and I guess I’d say it was ok, not nothing worth writing home about. I suppose you don’t get the most authentic Thai food on the touristy streets, but I was hungry and it was convenient.

Price: 290 THB

As it happens, after finishing eating, I realized I had left ALL of my cash back in my hostel room!! My hostel was only a few steps away, but I had to explain to the staff that I had no cash on me, and they were kind enough to let me go up to my room and get my cash. I was so embarrassed, but they were very nice about it. 🥴

After that, I continued walking around Rambutree road and then off to Khaosan road, mostly to see what was around, but also to get a feel for the area. I did some people watching, checked out some of the souvenir shops, and then headed back to my hostel to get some sleep later that night.


Day 25

The next morning, I headed back to the airport to pickup my girlfriend, so we could start our 3 days in Bangkok together (including our day in Ayutthaya)! I picked her up, and we took the bus back to our hostel. I then checked her into the hostel, she dropped off her bags, and we headed out to explore the city.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho, known in English as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is one of the largest temple complexes in the city, and on many tourist’s must-see list. The official name of the temple is Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan. What a mouthful!

I had read about how big the Buddha was and wanted to check it out for myself, and it’s one of those things you need to see to understand the scale. Mind you, a lot of the Buddha statues I’ve seen throughout China, Vietnam, and Thailand have been huge, so it’s not like it’s the only one, but it’s still impressive.

Wat Pho

The temple is first on the list of six temples in Thailand classed as the highest grade of the first-class royal temples. It is associated with King Rama I who rebuilt the temple complex on an earlier temple site. It became his main temple and is where some of his ashes are enshrined. The temple was later expanded and extensively renovated by Rama III. The temple complex houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, including a 46 m long reclining Buddha.
[…]
It houses a school of Thai medicine, and is also known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage which is still taught and practiced at the temple.
Wikipedia

We could have easily walked to the temple from our hostel, as it would have only been about a 25 minute walk, but we took a cab instead, I think just to save a bit of time.

Taxi fare: 65 THB

The taxi dropped us off near the entrance of the complex, but I think we were, or maybe he was, initially confused by where we had to enter, as he (the taxi driver) dropped us off at the exit of the complex.

We realized after where we had to enter, which was just a bit of a walk over, so no biggie! But the complex itself really does seem huge when you’re walking up to it. It’s quite impressive!

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

^ The actual entrance to the complex.

My girlfriend pointed out that most or all of the temples in Vietnam are free to enter, but many of the more popular temples in Thailand charge an entrance fee. I guess that’s just the way it is, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re visiting or planning to visit temples in Thailand.

Wat Pho entrance fee: 200 THB per person

Wat Pho

Wat Pho is a really beautiful and impressive complex. Probably not as impressive as the Grand Palace, but still worth a visit. It’s actually one of Bangkok’s oldest temples, although the exact date of construction is unknown. It’s possible it was built during the reign of King Phetracha, which would have been during the 17th century.

The complex underwent significant changes over the next 260 years, particularly during the reign of Rama III (1824-1851). In 1832, King Rama III began renovating and enlarging the temple complex, a process that took 16 years and seven months to complete. The ground of the temple complex was expanded to 56 rai (9.0 ha; 22 acres), and most of the structures now present in Wat Pho were either built or rebuilt during this period, including the Chapel of the Reclining Buddha. He also turned the temple complex into a public center of learning by decorating the walls of the buildings with diagrams and inscriptions on various subjects.
Wikipedia

The main attraction at Wat Pho is, of course, the Reclining Buddha, which is 46 meters long and 15 meters high. It’s frikin huge!!! I tried to get pics to adequately show the size of the Buddha, but it was really hard to do without a wide-angle lens. You really have to see it for yourself!

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

The official site has a neat interactive map of the complex, with some 360-degree images which doesn’t seem to link properly, but you can check out on the watpho.com site.

I was pretty impressed by the temples in Phuket while I was there, but the temples in Bangkok seem to step up the details and intricacies a notch. I’m sure it has to do with this being one of the Royal temples, which would of course mean more money and detail was put into it, then say a temple for the common folk.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

The Wat Pho complex has quite a bit to see, and a number of areas to walk around. In one of the areas we passed, I noticed a bunch of items/artifacts that looked quite damaged and worn out, and so I’m guessing a lot of the complex has had to undergo some pretty extensive restoration work.

Wat Pho

It must be a lot of work to restore and maintain these temples, and keep them looking so incredibly beautiful, so I completely understand charging an entrance fee.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

Wat Pho

In one area of the complex, there were four walls filled with Buddha’s. Most were gold-covered, but 1 or 2 weren’t. I guess they weren’t yet finished covering all of them in gold leaf?

Phra Rabieng are the double cloisters surrounding the chapel that connect four main directional Viharas.

The inner cloister contains 150 Buddha images, and for the outer cloister, over 244 images are located.

These images were brought from northern provinces during the reign of King Rama I. Today, all Buddha images are covered with gold leaves.
watpho.com

Wat Pho

That pretty much wrapped up our Wat Pho visit. I really enjoyed coming to Wat Pho, and definitely think it’s worth a visit.

Exploring the streets of Bangkok

After visiting Wat Pho, we walked around a bit, exploring the streets around the area.

I had originally wanted to visit the Grand Palace, which was on the way back from Wat Pho, but the entrance fee was I think around 400-500 Baht, which just didn’t seem worth it to me as that would have been somewhere around $40-$50 CAD for two tickets.

Streets of Bangkok

Streets of Bangkok

So we simply admired it from afar, and then kept on heading towards the hostel, snapping more pics along the way.

Streets of Bangkok

Streets of Bangkok

We stopped by Khaosan road on the way back, to have a look and see what was going on. We also wanted to sample some of the food.

Khaosan Road

Khaosan Road

Khaosan Road

While the roasted crocodile looked interesting, we decided to stick to less adventurous food and instead snacked on some yummy grilled beef, which was only 50 Baht. 😁

We also wanted to pick up some souvenirs, and so we walked around the area, checking out the various shops.

Khaosan Road

After grabbing a few things, there was an ice cream place I had been dying to try. So we took a Grab car to Siam Square, which is where the place was located.

Siam Center

Siam Center

Siam Center is a huge shopping mall, with a ton of stores. When we got there, I had a bit of an idea where the ice cream place was, but couldn’t make heads or tails of where we were in relation to it, so I had to ask around and get directions.

But as we were approaching Lido Connect, which was the area where I thought it was, we saw a bunch of people with their cell phones out, and heard some loud music playing.

Siam Center

Siam Center

There was a live band playing outside, so we decided to stop and check the band out for a bit to see if they were any good.

They were playing rock when we arrived, but afterwards went into I guess death metal? I’m not overly familiar with it, but a bunch of younger people started headbanging and moshing, so I guess that’s what it was. 😅

And at that point, we decided to head inside to find the ice cream place.

Tickled Pink Ice Cream

We had to circle around a few times inside and ask a few shops, but we finally found them! Their spot inside Lido Connect is super cute, and I was anxious to try their ice cream.

I started talking with one of the staff members, to then find out I was speaking to one of the owners. We then discussed our love of soft-serve ice cream at length! 😆
He also told me about the process they go through every week to craft their flavours from scratch, their plans to expand, and some of the spots they were looking at. He also explained to us how the pricing worked, as you can add various additions like the candies in my pic below, and that the flavours change weekly. We have a few places like that in Montreal, so I was familiar with the concept.

They had two flavours that week, and so we decided to get one of each. I actually can’t recall the names they gave the flavours, but the white was a vanilla flavour, and the purple one was a berry mix.

Price for both with extras: 218 THB

Tickled Pink

Tickled Pink

I really enjoyed both, but the berry was my fav. The flavour was great, but it also had a texture and mouth-feel I really liked. Both were great though and I really liked the playful aspect of them. Ice cream is supposed to be fun after all right? 😁

After finishing our ice cream, we left Lido Connect, but Siam Center is so big that we decided to explore it a bit before getting a Grab back to our hostel.

Siam Center Continued

As we headed out of Lido Connect, we passed by some funky looking shops and restaurants. Made me realize we could do with a bit more of that in Montreal. 😁

Siam Center

From there, we headed inside to another part of the center, and window shopped for a bit. The funkiness continued, and I was really enjoying the vibe of the place.

Siam Center

Siam Center

The music in the center was also pretty awesome. A mix of electronica that was chill but had a good beat, and I was really enjoying it. I actually Shazam’d a few songs, and was able to add them to my music playlists. 😅

Siam Center

Siam Center

On our way out, before heading back, we even spotted a little Christmas market! 😀

Siam Center

We walked through it quickly just to see what there was, and then found a tuk tuk to take us back to our hostel.

Tuk Tuk Price: 100 THB

I’m not one to travel and visit “malls”. The idea of it sounds so lame to me, but Siam Center was a trip, and a lot of fun. I’m glad Tickled Pink was here, as it made us discover this awesome mall. I’d definitely suggest checking it out if you’re in the area, even if you have no plans to shop!

That was it for our 1st full day in Bangkok. The next day we’d be heading out to Ayutthaya, and I was really excited for that!


Day 26

We kept day 26 as a pretty light day, with only two spots on the menu: Wat Arun and Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World.

Wat Arun was one of the temples I had read about and was looking forward to visiting, due to it’s (broken) tiled exterior. I had seen pictures of it online, and it looked really cool.

Sea Life was something my girlfriend wanted to see. I don’t generally visit zoos and aquariums while on vacation, but it looked interesting, so I figured why not?

Wat Arun

Wat Arun is one of the most recognized, and iconic temples in Bangkok. It certainly isn’t hard to see why!

Wat Arun
Image Credit: wat-arun.com

To get to Wat Arun, you actually need to take a ferry. You do need to pay for the ferry, but at only 4 Baht, it’s basically free.

We walked from our hostel to the ferry terminal, but I don’t think I initially realized we needed to take a ferry, so it wasn’t immediately obvious where to go. We eventually found the ticket booth down a slightly nondescript road, and bought our tickets.

When it comes to extravagant temples with beautiful attention to detail, Wat Arun is among the top in Bangkok. It’s also one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, and is named after Aruna, the Hindu God of Dawn.

Wat Arun

As with many temples, Wat Arun has had many restorations, the most recent of which was in 2017 - and it came with a bit of controversy.

The most extensive restoration work on the prang was undertaken from 2013 to 2017, during which a substantial number of broken tiles were replaced and lime plaster was used to re-finish many of the surfaces (replacing the cement used during earlier restorations). As the work neared its end in 2017, photographs of the results drew some criticism for the temple’s new appearance, which seemed white-washed compared to its previous state. The Fine Arts Department defended the restoration, saying that the new appearance was closer to the original appearance of the temple, and that the white colour was chosen to reflect the sunlight and reduce the temperature of the surface.
Wikipedia

Wat Arun

Wat Arun

The original site was built during the Ayutthaya era, and was known as Wat Makok. The site as it is now however was restored after the fall of Ayutthaya, and was renamed Wat Chaeng. It was later renamed again to Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan, which is the name it has today.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun

Wat Arun

One of the things that really sets this site apart from other temples is the fact that you can climb up the central spire, which is the tall tower in the middle of the complex. If I remember correctly, you can’t climb all the way up, but you can climb up a good portion of it. You also cannot enter the spire.

According to wat-arun.com, the central spire is 82 meters high (269 feet), however some sites list it as 70 meters (230 feet). Regardless of the actual height, it’s absolutely stunning, and the details are incredible.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun

After enjoying Wat Arun for a bit, we headed back to our hostel to eat, relax, and then head out to Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World.

Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World

Sea Life Bangkok is in the Siam Paragon shopping center, which we had actually just visited the previous day. It’s in the basement, but Siam Center has several areas and several basements, so it took us a bit to find it. If you plan to visit, to make things hopefully easier for you, look for the food court, as Sea Life Bangkok is right below it!

Now I haven’t been to many aquariums in my life, but I have to say this one was setup really well, with vivid displays and lots of interesting sea life. It’s great for adults and children alike.

Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World

Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World

I think this is a frog? Or possibly a toad? Either way it’s a fat one for sure! 😂

Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World

There were so many different species of life here … fish, frogs, penguins, sharks, turtles, and so much more.

Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World

These little worm-guys were quite odd and interesting looking. If you’ve ever watched the children’s show Sesame Street, they reminded me of Oscar The Grouch’s pet worm, Slimey, and even kind of moved like him too! 😜

Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World

Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World

The sharks, along with a variety of other fish, were in a huge tank that you could walk through. The perspective is odd at some angles due to the way the plexiglass is curved, but the up-close view was still really amazing. Truly beautiful creatures!

Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World

If you’ve got kids, bringing them here is a great idea, and if you don’t have kids, I think it’s still worth a visit. And since it’s in Siam Center, you’ll have lots of other things to see as well, include Madame Tussauds, which is right next door … if that’s your thing.


That pretty much wrapped up our time in Bangkok, and despite how short it was, we had an absolutely amazing time.

The next day we’d be heading out to Ayutthaya from Bangkok, which is something I was really looking forward to as I love old ruins and temples.

Until next time,
michael 😀

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