Welcome to Bangkok
Sawatdee kaa’ and greetings from Thailand! 😀
So far, I have had a full week in Bangkok, to sightsee and settle down before starting the new semester. 😀
For starters, I moved into Purita Residence, located in the Silom district of Bangkok.
Note: This is just temporary, while I look for a permanent apartment. 🙂
Silom is a southern district in Bangkok, nestled along the banks of the Chao Phraya river.
Bangkok is ranked as the hottest city on the planet, so light breezy fabrics are essential. 😀
Since my move to Thailand was unanticipated, most items in my suitcase involved winter clothing, including a parka and boots.
Therefore, I knew building a proper wardrobe was high priority, unless I wanted to melt. Hah. 😛
Luckily, Bangkok has numerous night markets, and themed shopping malls to choose from. 😀
My first themed mall was Terminal 21, which seemed like a smooth transition after my recent visit to the airport.
Terminal 21 simulates the airport atmosphere, and gives visitors the chance to travel the globe in a few short hours. The destinations are divided by floor level, and include famous cities like Rome, Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco, and even Istanbul. 🙂
Déjà vu. 😉Despite the plethora of clothing options, I ended up buying three new outfits for $5, outside a noodle shop on a street corner. 😛
Bargain hunting at its best!Speaking of too many options, I was completely overwhelmed by the choices at the grocery store as well. I spent almost 30 minutes in front of the drink aisle alone. 😀
Grass jelly, collagen beauty drink, and soymilk with job’s tears.
FYI: Job’s tears are seeds from the grass family. They are not related to how work sometimes makes you cry. 😥 Haha. Surely some of these can’t be legal in America.
Matcha latte, rice punch, chicken drink, and ??? drink.
Chocolate and banana flavor, with essence of chicken. A special treat for the sweet tooth out there. 😛WTH? Real bird’s nest?
Not so surprisingly, I decided on a drink with more recognizable ingredients, an iced latte. 😀
Getting from A to B in Bangkok is surprisingly easy, since there are various modes of transportation. With buses, metros, ferries, taxis, trams, and more adventurous tuk tuks and motor bikes, there are almost too many options to choose from. 🙂The BTS or sky train in Bangkok is clearly mapped, cheap, and air-conditioned. People even line-up nicely before boarding. 😀
The biggest challenge here has been dealing with crazy drivers. I feel like I’m in a game of Frogger, selecting the opportune moment to walk across the street.Also, make sure you don’t step on any loose coins on the sidewalk.
In Thailand, stepping on loose coins is illegal, since you are stepping on the King’s face.
That being said, it’s also illegal in Thailand to leave the house without wearing underwear. 😛I’m not sure how they’d know if these rules were broken, and hopefully nobody is monitoring this.
That is unless you ‘pull a Marilyn,’ and walk over a drafty grate. 😉That being said, some Thai rules that are closely monitored include the dress code at Thai temples.
Thailand is over 90% Buddhist, and full of gorgeous golden temples.Visiting the shimmering golden wats of Bangkok is a privilege, and there is a defined temple etiquette when viewing these religious sites.No shorts or bare shoulders allowed.Luckily they have skirts, robes and scarves for both men and women to wear. 😀
Remain silent during your visit, which is actually quite peaceful when visiting the temple grounds. 🙂Above all, show respect to the buddha. 🙂Once you’ve mastered these rules, you can feel at ease as you wander through the temples and opulent buddha shrines. 🙂During my first week, I check out the most famous temples in Bangkok: Wat Phra Kaew inside the Grand Palace, and Wat Pho, also known as, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Shimmering Gold Wats
The fastest and cheapest way to Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho is by ferry-boat along the Chao Phraya river.For 50 cents, I took the orange express boat up the river, dropping me off only a few feet from the palace gates. 😀
Chao Praya River
The Grand Palace: Wat Phra Kaew and The Emerald Buddha
The Grand Palace is not just one building, but actually a complex of various temples, palaces and chapels, all surrounded by a grand gated wall. It had been occupied since the 18th century, by King Rama and the royal Thai family, until the absolute monarchy was abolished in the mid-20th century.This is the Royal Pantheon, which houses statues of the first eight kings. The building opens its doors only one time per year, on April 6th. This is Chakri Day, when Thailand recognizes contributions by the all the kings in the dynasty.
Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The most famous site in the complex is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which houses a carved jade sculpture, sitting upon a golden altar.
The buddha’s garments are also changed 3X per year, which is an honor bestowed only upon the current King.
Wat Pho: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho is the oldest and largest temple complex, with a collection of over 1,000 buddha statues.
Admission will cost $5, and includes free drinking water. 🙂
This Ubosot or ordination hall houses the oldest buddha statue in the complex, sitting in a meditation pose on a decorated pedestal enlaid with ashes of King Rama I. The most famous buddha in the temple is undoubtedly the reclining buddha, a 46 meter long gold-plated statue.Hanging out with the buddha. 🙂After all that sightseeing, I surely worked up an appetite, and I was ready to try out some local cuisine. 😀
Last week, Bangkok celebrated Vegetarian Festival in Chinatown.
Vegetarian Festival honors the nine Emperor Gods, and occurs on the ninth Chinese lunar month each year.Rules during Vegetarian Festival seem quite strict and slightly comical, but that seems to be a common theme here. 😛I had read the best street vendors in Chinatown were found on an unsuspecting street, lined with auto repair shops.
Meatless skewers with a spicy chili sauce. 🙂
Mushroom coconut curry. Mung bean cakes. Sizzling wok full of crispy golden tofu.
Corn and peanut cakes, topped with sweet and sour sauce. Simply divine!
After all that walking and munching on fried foods, I was ready to cleanse my mind and body with a little yoga sesh. 😉
I decided to take my first hatha flow yoga class at Yogatique in the trendy Sukhumvit district.
The hatha flow class focused on continual movements, combined with held poses, which were perfect for stretching my sore muscles.
My trainer Kate was fantastic, and I met a nice girl named Ty, who is working with the Peace Corps in Northern Thailand.
Overall, a successful intro to Bangkok, and a warm welcome in the country known as “the land of smiles.” 😀
Finally, on Tuesday I began working at Assumption College Rama II.
This school is a literal breath a fresh air, located in the remote countryside of Samut Sakhon.
So far, I have been more than impressed with the facilities and the staff. 😀
The students are respectful and the curriculum is well-defined, with specific aims for each lesson outlined by Bell English.
So far I’ve only been completing administrative tasks, but I’ll begin teaching next week. Can’t wait to get back in the classroom and meet the kids. 😀
Until then, we have a three-day weekend where I plan to visit the tranquil mountains of Thailand. The weekend is sure to be an animal lover’s dream. ❤
I’ll tell you all about it next time. Until then. Enjoy your weekend everyone! 😀