Bangkok was much bigger than we expected. A drive through the city revealed pockets of modern skyscrapers surrounded by larger swaths of older buildings, making starkly clear the economic dichotomy between the rich and the poor.
We spent a decent amount of our time relaxing at our condo. We were pretty tired after several months in Southeast Asia. We did make it out for a few activities including the Grand Palace and floating markets.
It was SO hot when we went to the Grand Palace. Sweat-through-your-pants hot. And there were a lot of people there. But, the sights were awesome. The complex hosts multiple buildings, all bedazzled with mirrored tiles in mosaic patterns. We walked around several of the buildings and admired the meters-tall mural on the wall surrounding the courtyard. As usual, Stella loved climbing as many stairs as she could find.
After the Grand Palace, we headed to the reclining Buddha. I didn’t have many expectations for this one. It was strangely impressive. The Buddha runs the entire length of a building, is gilded in gold, and several meters tall. Stella loved pointing out its eyes, ears, and mouth. It was a short tour which was perfect for a hot day.
Lastly, we took a 4 baht (12 cent) ferry across the river to Wat Arun Ratchawararam. On the way to the ferry, I thought it would be nice to walk along the riverside. Turns out we walked right through a homeless camp. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
Wat Arun Ratchawararam carried on the mosaic motif with a bit more white space, making the temple look off white from a distance and revealing intricate colors up close. There were even more stairs here.
The floating markets were so fun. We found this tour on Airbnb and would completely recommend it. We took off on some traditional boats touring the canals running through the city. Along the path we passed some of the poorer homes. All of them were on stilts and many had no ground access at all, meaning the only way in and out is by boat. Our host pointed out one house where you could see the 4x4 stilts were nearly completely eroded. She said “This one’s going to fall anytime! Oh look, you can see the woman sleeping in her bedroom through the wall slats.” It certainly put our lodging into perspective.
The river was full of big catfish. There were several areas where the fish would swarm and wait for people to feed them. Most popular for the fish is the water space surrounding the temple because it’s not allowed to fish there. Near our first stop, we passed directly through a large group of fish as bystanders were tossing in rolls and cheese puffs. As the boat passed over, the group of fish thrashed violently and sent a Splash-Mountain-worthy wave of water over the front of the boat. All of us got a nice, sanitarily questionable spritz.
Once we got off the boat, Stella loved feeding the fish. In fact fish were a bit of a theme for the day. Later on Stella got to feed fish with a bottle and tried to catch the small fish that were exfoliating my foot skin.
We also got to buy some carrots and feed some goats. Stella was especially excited about this and kept trying to pet the goats, but they made it abundantly clear they just wanted the carrots and not her lovable pets.
The entire tour, our guide was buying small, traditional snacks from the market vendors and giving them to us to try. Most were very unique and tasty. Some were unique and not that tasty. We had sweet tacos with marshmallow-like cream and shrimp shavings, fried bananas (fried in a boat! This was one of our favorites) and taro, rice krispies, ice cream, custard, and so much more. We also had some great Pad Thai from a local vendor. By the end of the tour no one was able to eat anything else.
We stopped in at an orchid farm and tried “butterfly pea”, a tea made from a blue flower that turns purple when you add lime juice. The Orchid farm had been there for generations.
Thanks for reading,