Thailand is one of those countries that I have just been dying to visit ever since moving to Okinawa. It is a very popular vacation destination for a lot of military couples stationed over here, and I almost began to feel a little left out since I had lived here two years and still hadn't been to Thailand. I know this may seem silly to most people, but even Matt has been to Thailand on a deployment and couldn't stop talking about how great it was... a deployment! Needless to say, Thailand was probably the place I have been looking forward to visiting the most of every Asian country, and it did not disappoint!
We spent over a week and a half in Thailand, visiting three different parts. Our first stop was their hub city of Bangkok. We had heard that Bangkok was a little busy, smelly and dirty, so we came prepared. I can't speak for Matt, but I was surprised to find that it wasn't quite as dirty or smelly as I had imagined - we've been to many large Asian cities by now, and I guess I just imagined the worst? Either way, I thought Bangkok was a HUGE city that was very crowded. The traffic was pretty bad, and everything seemed to be really spread out and far away from each other. Usually, after we spend even a long weekend in a city, I leave feeling like I have some sort of grasp on the different areas of the city, where things are located and which things are near one another. This was not the case with Bangkok. I feel like the city was just too huge for us to explore in the couple of days we had there. We saw and did the main things we wanted to see and do there, but there was so much more that we didn't even get to touch on. I do, however, think that Bangkok has a lot to offer as far as food, shopping and culture go, and there were most definitely some pretty nice areas.
Inside the lobby of our hotel in Bangkok - the hotel was very "Thai Modern" and had an enormous breakfast buffet each morning. It was also located on Sukhumvit Road, the longest road in Asia that runs through Thailand all the way to the Cambodian border!
First tuk-tuk ride in Bangkok - we spent a lot of time in these during our stay here. Our last day, we ended up hiring one driver all day to bring us everywhere we wanted!
Check out this video of one of our tuk-tuk rides through the streets of Bangkok (this is the guy we hired for the day):
One of the prettiest temples I've seen - The Marble Temple
The walls are all literally constructed of white marble!
It took us awhile to find a place for lunch, but we ended up finding some delicious Tom Yam Goong Soup (Spicy Shrimp Soup) - I LOVE this soup and had it four times on our whole trip. This was the best one I had!
One place I HAD to see - Chatuchak Weekend Market - the largest market in Asia
So much Thai silk
They even sold pets
and food of course
I had to pay to use the bathroom here
Oh man, I could've browsed these aisles all day!
Wat Pho - Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Such detail everywhere - we've seen a few temples in other countries, but I've never seen so many glittery details than on the ones in Thailand! They literally sparkled!
Inside Wat Pho is the Reclining Buddha
He's gold, he's laying down, and oh... he's HUGE! This is me by his feet:)
Bottom of the Buddha's feet have scenes made out of Mother of Pearl - you can see his head way down there at the other end!
The Chao Phraya River that runs through Bangkok - it was slightly flooded when we were there. Children were swimming in their houses that lined the river.
View of Wat Arun from across the river at sunset
Our last night in Bangkok, we decided to go see a real Muay Thai fight at one of Bangkok's largest arenas - Lumphinee Boxing Stadium. We weren't sure if we wanted to do this at first, because it was a little pricey (2,000 baht per person - about $65 USD) for ringside seats. However, we decided to go for it since we didn't know when we'd ever be in Bangkok again, and I'm so glad we did. Our seats were awesome, the fights were so entertaining, we had so much fun, and it really was the highlight of our time in Bangkok. How many people can say they've been to an authentic Muay Thai fight in Bangkok, Thailand??
There were nine fights total, and before each one, the boxers had a pre-fight ritual they performed.
Matt and I sitting ringside
Check out this video clip of the boxers pre-fight ritual:
It got soooo loud in the stadium as the night went on! Everyone in the stands behind us were yelling and betting on each fight.
These weren't boring fights - definately action-packed!
Check out this clip of one of the first fights of the night - it only lasted about a minute and a half total, and ended in a knock-out with the paramedics carrying the loser off on a stretcher!
After our couple days in Bangkok, I can honestly say that I don't really feel like I know that city like so many others we've visited. However, with our two-week time limit for this trip, and all the other things we wanted to do in the rest of Thailand, I think we saw everything I really wanted to see the most there. When I think back on our time in Bangkok, I think... riding through crowded streets in tuk-tuks, gorgeous temples, incredible food, and Muay Thai fun!
Stay tuned for Part 2 in Chiang Mai, Thailand!