Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and is located in the heart of South East Asia. Thailand is a firm favourite for travellers looking for that Asian experience and draws many millions of visitors annually.
Gone are the days when Bangkok was a city full of rickshaws and pushbikes. That has all been left behind as this powerhouse economy moves forward with the likes of Singapore and China.
Now you will find the city set up with all the trimmings and trappings of modern transport systems and only in the tourist areas or up-country will you find the old fashion sarm-lor or three wheeled tricycle that was synonymous with the Asia of old.
But not everything is new, the old lifestyle and values still predominate, the people still maintain their beliefs and display that wonderful smile that Thailand is renowned for.
Discover a city that is evolving, it never stands still and it rarely seems to sleep.
The old part of the city has Royal Palaces and Thailand Buddhist temples where monks still go about collecting daily alms each morning, as if the modern world did not exist.
As you wander the grounds of the magnificent Buddhist temples, the peacefulness envelopes you, until you are beset by a distinct feeling of calm.
Draw a deep breath and take a moment to look at the glass tile studded architecture on the temple walls and roof. See the sunlight catch each tile and like a small mirror, send the sparkling rays right back at you.
Even as you explore the temple grounds with the distant sound of the Buddhist monks chanting in the background, the frenetic pace of this mad city continues just metres away, outside the confines of the temple walls.
Such is the contrast in the capital of Thailand; on one side peace and calm and on the other, the helter skelter of life. Trucks and buses belching black diesel fumes, market vendors selling their wares and calling you over to look at what is on offer.
The humidity is oppressive, the heat can be stifling and yet one of the most popular past times in Bangkok is sitting outside in a bar or restaurant and spending the time people watching.
The side streets are full of food stalls that set up early in the morning and they maintain their position until the late evening. Small tables and plastic chairs are brought and set up each day. Food is cooked before your eyes and with a systematic precision the separate dishes are prepared and set out neatly on the plates.
The waft of chilli fumes can be overpowering to those unaccustomed. As you sip on a beer or have a coffee you are treated to your own Thai cooking school right before your very eyes.
All around there is the noise of the living city. There are motorbikes delivering supplies to the small bars and restaurants that make up the streetscape.
Cases of beer are stacked on the footrest of the little Vespa scooter between the rider’s legs, with bottles of water fastened onto the rear pannier.
The rider gives a broad smile as he knows he is being watched. He is overloaded for sure, but in a city of 10 million people all fighting for survival, he is doing his bit to provide for his family.
The Chaophraya River bisects Bangkok; the old part of the city on one side and new part on the other. History books tell us why the centre of the capital moved.
The Chaophrya river is a highway for large barges carrying supplies from the sea port or sugar from the farms up river and then there are the ferries carrying people that dart from one side of the river to the other.
There are some ferries travelling along the river to destinations yet to be explored, where they briefly stop to pick up and set down their passengers.
Ferries are a cheap form of transport and an ideal way for the tourist to take in another aspect of Thai life.
Many of Bangkok’s famous Buddhist temples are located near to the Chaophraya River and all you need is a sense of adventure, a ferry map and your camera and the day can be spent exploring and taking in the sights.
The atmosphere around the ferry wharves is energetic, but in this area boats have replaced cars and people still need to be transported. Watch them jump gingerly onto the ferryboat, one wrong step and the shopping could be in the river or worse.
Years of practice make it second nature for the locals to time the rising a falling of the boat and when to make that step.
The afternoons are hot, it is humid and tiring, many people have a short sleep to recover some energy. Drivers sit in vans or on the back of trucks, rearranging the goods to make it comfortable.
In the late afternoon as night time approaches, Bangkok seems to come back to life again. The tired day people are replaced by those who prefer the night time.
The stall holders running the night markets start setting up their displays of ladies fashion, trinkets for the tourists, handbags and shoes. With military precision they unload and erect the stall, unpack the offerings and hang them for display.
Will today be profitable, will we have some good customers? The question is the same every day.
In the rainy season, prayers are said to keep that rain away, because rain and customers don’t mix.
People on their way home from work, collect some food for the family. Fried chicken is deftly cut into pieces with a large machete, Rice and soups are transferred to plastic bags and tied with rubber bands.
Why don’t the bags leak?
When the sun has gone down the heat still radiates from the concrete around, but it is now more bearable as the evening breeze wafts gently by. The office workers have all gone home and the traffic has relented. Now the roads are filled with the multicoloured taxis plying their trade.
The taxis are renowned for their bright colours; red, yellow, green, blue even bright orange. As you walk along horns don’t blare they “beep beep” to attract your attention, “Pick me, pick me” they seem to say.
The scene is one of colour reflecting from the wet road. Neon lights, coloured taxis, market stalls. The senses are filled and the night is still young.
Thai girls in the Thai massage shops call out as you pass by, the restaurant owner tempts you with an offer of fresh seafood and the tailor has great deal on a suit.
The sounds and sights of Bangkok fill your senses and yet tomorrow there will be new places to visit, new experiences to be had and the "city of angels" will show itself in a different light, once again surprising you.
This city really is the hub of South East Asia, where you can experience a range of culture from the modern to the traditional, from the traffic chaos and raucous street life, to the calm of sacred Buddhist temples, all located side by side.
If you have never been to Bangkok, start to plan your vacation right now and be prepared to be amazed.
If you are not sure which district to stay in then check out the Google map of places to stay in Bangkok.
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