Travel Tuesday with Taylor to Bangkok, Thailand
by Taylor Deer
Taylor Takes on Thailand
Happy August everyone! A year ago, I eagerly booked a trip to Thailand to cross off another continent on my bucket list and explore a new country with a different culture, landscapes and history. Over the past two weeks, I had the best experience traveling to Thailand’s famous cities of Bangkok, Phitsanulok, Chiang Mai and the island of Koh Samet.
I am excited to share my memorable experiences with you all during this month’s blog tour of Thailand.
Thailand is Finally Here:
I left for my two-week adventure late on a Friday night. Prior to traveling to Thailand, my longest flight was to Greece last year, so I had to mentally prepare myself beforehand. It was going to take my friends and I 16 hours to fly to our layover in Hong Kong and then another two-and-a-half hours to Bangkok. Prior to the flight, I bought four books, made sure to bring my headphones to listen to Spotify and watch the movies provided on the plane, ate a big dinner since I am not a fan of airplane food and waited to sleep or nap until I boarded. Believe it or not, the flight wasn’t as bad as I thought. I think it is because I surprised myself by sleeping for most of the flight. Since it worked for me, I recommend you follow my tips of fighting to stay awake before your next long flight!
When we first arrived in Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, we met up with our two awesome tour guides – Mr. Perez and Mr. Tony. During our two weeks in Thailand, they both went above and beyond to show us the best of what this beautiful country has to offer, made sure we were all safe and kept us entertained throughout the day and night. I learned so much from them and I could not be more thankful!
- Sawad Dee Ka – Hi (Feminine)
- Sawad Dee Krab – Hi (Masculine)
- Kob Kun Ka – Thank you (Feminine)
- Kob Kun Krab – Thank you (Masculine)
- Aroon Sawat – Good Morning
My First Thai Meal:
After we arrived in the city of Bangkok, we checked into our hotel and couldn’t wait to indulge in our first Thai meal. Mr. Perez and Mr. Tony recommended an authentic Thai restaurant called Yai Yaa Thai, which was located down the street from our hotel. Of course, my first meal in Thailand was chicken pad Thai and spring rolls. Out of all of the amazing Thai restaurants I’ve eaten at in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, Yai Yaa Thai out beat every pad Thai dish I’ve had! (It was amazing.) For dessert, we all enjoyed a nice glass of the best Thai iced coffee and then tried the famous mango sticky rice. Before you begin to question what mango sticky rice is, it is probably the most delicious, traditional Thai food you’ll eat during your time in Thailand. It is made with glutinous rice, locally fresh mango and hot coconut milk drizzled on top.
A Relaxing Night in Bangkok:
Since we were all exhausted from traveling for a full day, we just wanted to relax before touring the palace and temples in Thailand’s capital city. Our hotel had a rooftop pool and bar area that featured stunning views of Bangkok. I even got to enjoy my first Thai piña colada that included fresh coconut and pineapple juice. It was the perfect way to rest up before our big tour of the Grand Palace the next day. At night we grabbed dinner at OPUS Wine Bar and Italian Restaurant, located a few blocks away from our hotel. To be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled about going to an Italian restaurant during my first night in Thailand, but when we arrived the ambiance of this welcoming wine bar complemented Thailand’s tropical environment and offered a great selection of wines. For dinner, I enjoyed a delicious octopus salad.
A good night’s sleep had us energized and ready for an adventurous day ahead. Our hotel had a great all-you-can-eat Thai breakfast buffet. In Thailand, you usually do not eat pancakes, cereal, waffles, home fries and French toast as you would in America. Instead, the Thai breakfast consisted of fried rice, pad Thai, fried noodles with veggies, fresh pineapple and maybe a few pastries or bread. On my first morning in Thailand, I was excited to eat noodles for breakfast, but quickly got sick of it, as it became a regular food item within every meal we had during the two weeks.
The Grand Palace and Sacred Temples of Bangkok:
Our first stop of the day was to the Grand Palace, the official residence of the Kings of Siam and later on the King of Thailand. It is one of the most visited attractions in the country. Serving as a royal residence since 1925, the Grand Palace is now used for ceremonial purposes. This majestic site, located in the heart of Bangkok is divided into three main zones: The Outer Court – home to royal offices, public buildings and the Temple of Emerald Buddha; the Middle Court – the most important residential and state buildings and the Inner Court – exclusively reserved for the king, queen and their family.
When I first walked into the Grand Palace, I was awestruck by the intricate gold buildings, temples and beautiful statues placed within the vibrant tile work. I admired all of my surroundings as I knew the builders of this other worldly place spent long hours and hard work to make it the most magical and sacred site in the country.
In Thailand, and many other Asian countries, there is a high-context culture. When I first arrived in Thailand, I was quickly informed of the characteristics that separate high-context cultures from the low-context, American culture that I am used to. Some common characteristics of high-context cultures is the use of non-verbal methods to relay information in conversations such as facial expressions, eye movement and tone of voice; people are comfortable standing close to each other and trust must be developed before business transactions can begin. Instead of reaching out to shake someone’s hand when you first meet them, you place your hands at the center of your chest and slightly bow without losing eye contact of the person you are acknowledging. It is also important for men, women and children to be covered up when visiting sacred sites in Thailand. It is unacceptable to show your shoulders, chest and knees when visiting the temples and if you go inside, your shoes must be off. During the day I visited the Grand Palace, I had to purchase a t-shirt outside of the attraction since I did not bring a jacket or shirt to cover my shoulders. I didn’t mind though and thought it was a cool cultural look in the end.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej sadly passed away in October 2016. His image is framed and hung throughout the country. Many people dress in black to mourn his passing.
Ruea Hang Yao
After our amazing time spent at the Grand Palace, we cooled down by boarding a traditional long-tail boat (called Ruea Hang Yao in Thai) along the Chao Phraya River – the main water channel in the city of Bangkok that flows into the Gulf of Thailand. It was cool looking at the variety of different Thai houses and large and small temples. There were even a few vendors selling fresh produce, spices and other food items on their own long-tail boats. All of these great aspects are what make Bangkok known as the “Venice of the East”.
The main religion practiced among Thai people is Buddhism. There is also a large percentage of Muslims along with Hindus and Christians. When you are traveling throughout Thailand’s popular cities, you will mostly find temples that feature gorgeous Thai Buddha statues of all different sizes. My favorite temple in Thailand was Wat Arun – Temple of Dawn. This magnificent temple is an architectural representation of Mount Meru, the center of the world in Buddhist cosmology. I had such a great time walking through the temple and the grounds. It also made for great pictures!
Outside of Wat Arun, was a small market that sold beautiful gold Buddha souvenirs. Since we were right outside the temple, I bought a beautiful Buddha that is now sitting in my living room.
After our time at the temples, we took the long-tail boat back to our buses that took us back to the hotel. We were starving, so we went back to Yai Yaa Thai (since we loved it so much) and got delicious Pad See Ew – Thai stir fried noodles. We also got mango sticky rice again!
Later in the evening, we enjoyed a classical Thai dinner and dance show located in Bangkok’s Silom Village. When we walked into the performance hall, we were asked to take off our shoes before sitting down to enjoy an authentic Thai dinner while being enamored by the mystical dancers. Being able to experience this dinner show allowed me to understand Thai history and culture. The food that was served was much different than what I had been ordering, so it was great expanding my horizons and trying a different Thai cuisine.
After our time at the classical Thai dinner and dance show, we headed straight to the famous Hangover 2 bar called lebua Sky Bar, located in the famous State Tower in Bangkok. It was so exciting being at the same rooftop bar that Bradley Cooper was at during the time they filmed the movie and the views of the city at night were nothing but magical. Did I mention that the drinks were delicious as well? The views and iconic gold dome made for great pictures with my friends.
We enjoyed our time at the Hangover 2 bar before heading into downtown Bangkok to dance the night away at a fun nightclub called Levels. We then enjoyed VIP bottle service at Bangkok’s genuine hip-hop club called Sugar Club. It was the perfect way to end our two days in Bangkok.
SitInMySeats Explorer Alexie of Travels with Lexy visited Thailand in September 2016. Click here to read her Ten Days Touring Thailand.
I hope you all enjoyed my blog post on the first part of my journey in Thailand. I am so excited to share my memorable experience at Thailand’s largest floating market and coconut farm next week. Stay tuned!
Imagine taking a walk on the wild side! Explore our amazing Thailand packages and experience trips similar to ours. Not only will you have an amazing and eye-opening experience adventuring through this majestic country, you will also come home refreshed with an open mindset. For more information, please email me at Taylor@sitinmyseats.com.
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