Nothing beats Bangkok!
Trip Start Aug 21, 2003
22Trip End Ongoing
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We will leave Bangkok tomorrow but we have enjoyed ourselves in this massive city. It is extremely hot from the humidity, the air is stagnant from all the vehicle fumes, and it often smells of naam pla (fish sauce), but Bangkok definitely manages to exude a good amount of charm. We are staying in Banglampoo, an area of the city known for being the largest backpacker ghetto in the world, as well as the "old city." To give you an idea of the contrasts of Bangkok - in the center of Banglampoo lies a Buddhist wat (temple) and monastery, hidden within weathered gray concrete walls
In a way the city is very comforting, because there are so many white faces, the modern amenities, and the tourist industry in general that caters to our wants and needs. But the other part of Bangkok is completely exotic and ancient-feeling. One of the first sites we went to was the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), the sometimes residence of the Thai king and royal family. Absolutely amazing Buddhist architecture, gold-plated and bejeweled structures. The emerald buddha is a revered figure in Bangkok - there were many people praying to him. It is actually made of jade and was discovered in 1434 in northern Thailand when lightning struck the tip of a temple, revealing the long lost Buddha. Very extravagant. We also went to Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), the oldest temple in Bangkok, which also contains a massage school and at one time, Bangkok's oldest university.
One interesting detour we took in Bangkok was to the Museum of Forensic Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, something we had heard about but could never really imagine
Overall, our favorite part of Bangkok had to be getting 2 hour long traditional Thai massages. We were expecting a typical back rub, but for $4 an hour we got the experience of a lifetime. Imagine a little Thai woman climbing all over you, using her knees, hands, elbows, head and feet to engage your entire body in a form of passive yoga. For 2 hours they stretched, rubbed, pulled, twisted and beat our every limb from foot to head, even at one point levitating us with their feet
Today we began taking our malaria pills, for tomorrow we leave for another world - Cambodia.