James Bond, 007, we have your back, at least that was the way we felt as we sped along on a long-tail boat on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok holds many treasures and multiple movie reminders, James Bond and The King and I, just to name two.
Bangkok is also full of beautiful Buddhist temples and statues. You can take a ferry ride to Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, to see the ceramic-tiled towers that reach about 260 feet in the air. Stories have it that the tiles are pieces of Chinese dishes that were recovered from a British shipwreck and placed meticulously into the beautiful patterns. You should also visit Wat Traimit to see the Golden Buddha, the largest solid gold Buddha statue weighing 5 ½ tons!
Across the river from Wat Arun is the Grand Palace, a must see for first-time visitors to Bangkok. The colossal facility encompasses over 2 million square feet which, as crowded as it was, felt as though it held the same number of tourists. (The complex, from which Thailand has been ruled since 1782, is worth dealing with the crowds.) The beautifully decorated buildings with glowing roofs and colorful statues are an amazing site. The complex contains two temples. Wat Pho is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The 140-feet long Reclining Buddha, is covered in gold leaf and is an amazing site to see.
Also, visitors shouldn’t miss the Temple of the Emerald Buddha which is also in the Grand Palace complex. The statue is small in stature (26 inches) compared to the large Buddha statues elsewhere in the city, but its importance to Thai people is unparalleled. Only the King of Thailand may touch this revered statue, and then he only does so 3 times per year. Visitors should be aware that a strict dress code is enforced at this temple, and many others in Thailand, to show respect.
We were able to take a speedy ride on a long-tail boat. The ride was exhilarating. I was in the front of the boat, so the spray of the water kept me very cool. Visitors can see ramshackle buildings in one area and modern high rises in the next—and it did make me feel as though we were starring in a James Bond movie!
We got off the long-tail boat at the National Barge Museum where royal ceremonial barges are displayed. The barges are amazing with their intricate details and gold filigree. (Visitors can also access the museum from land, but everything that I read says it is much more difficult.) We would love to have seen these barges sailing on the river during an actual ceremony, but our travel dates didn’t work with this idea.
Visitors should leave time in their trip to Bangkok for a visit to the Jim Thompson House, home of the American entrepreneur who revitalized the silk industry in Thailand before he mysteriously disappeared. At the peaceful teak home, we were able to learn about the silk-making process, from the worms to the spinning. The gardens and home, which is actually six traditional teak houses that were brought to create his complex, contain an interesting display of art that Thompson collected in his travels.
Bangkok is a huge city with interesting opportunities around every corner. Shopping, food, and markets are still on the horizon for another article.
Have you visited Bangkok? If so, what were your favorite experiences? Please share in the comment section below.
– Candace Ahlfinger has loved traveling since she was little and has always been on the go whenever possible. Now she is retired and gets to do what she loves best… TRAVEL! Whether it’s traveling with her wonderful husband, or our children and grandchildren, traveling is a great experience that enriches her life. Because she always enjoys reading and hearing about others’ travel experiences, she wants to share her travels with the Ellis DownHome readers.