From Seoul I went to Bangkok. I love Bangkok! It is one of the most amazing cities in the world. Somehow things happen there easily and quickly, as if by themselves. I am not a beach bum, after half an hour of lying on an idyllic beach I get bored. The urban jungle though I can explore endlessly. That’s why if most guests of Thailand aim to leave Bangkok as soon as possible, my preference is always the opposite – all roads lead there and that’s where I want to be. I usually stay in the Silom area. This is where the interesting stuff is concentrated. In addition from Silom it’s relatively easy to get to any other part of the city, as this is where the metro and Skytrain lines cross. Having stayed there a number of times, obviously I know the hotels, restaurants and best massage places (the latter of key importance in BKK).
I’m sure many of you have been to Bangkok and have visited its standard tourist attractions. That’s why below is the story of a couple of less well known places which I visited this time around. Bangkok of course is full of weird and fascinating institutions. For example I was looking for some contemporary art galleries and found them on the fourth and the fifth floor of a huge shopping centre, otherwise devoted to reselling jewellery. It was pretty weird to walk around all these Indian looking people haggling over brilliants among the guards. On the street Thanon Thaniya, which runs parallel to Patpong, you’ve got on the other hand a gigantic shopping centre devoted singularly to golf. Thanon Thaniya is a Japanese island in the sea of Bangkok full of hostess bars and authentic Japanese restaurants. Sitting in the Moon Bar on the roof of 50-storey high-rise and observing the lights of BKK from the height of a landing plane, it was hard to imagine that all these places belong to the same city.
The largest of Bangkok’s markets is open on weekends. It is located by the Northernmost Skytrain station. It is gigantic and pulls you i with its charms. I don’t buy anything anywhere due to limitations of space, but even I was charmed into spending some baht there. A mass of people head to the market from the Skytrain station:
Under the Skytrain as you approach the market:
It is like a small town divided into sectors by streets:
A deal has been struck:
An interesting personage. Many representatives of subcultures there. Don’t know if he’s really blind.
I liked the most the sectors selling various artwork, oftentimes straight from the creators.
A kind of art market instead of a gallery.
As any large Asian city, Bangkok possesses a Chinatown of its own. They say though that perhaps a quarter of any Thai’s blood is Chinese, so the differences here are more of a cultural than of a genetic order. It is a crazy place. Chinatown gate:
And endless stalls:
In Chinatown I visited a picturesque Chinese temple.
The God of Luck and Warriors Gods are guarding the entrance.
A so-called Golden Buddha temple close to the entrance of Chinatown:
The Buddha is really made of solid gold. It was found in 1930s inside another statue. Apparently it was hidden from invaders at some point in history.
Kathmandu photo gallery:
Jim Thompson shop of various silk garments in the Silom area. It is an offshoot of the Jim Thompson House, a wonderful house museum which I visited on another visit. In the depths of this vast shop there is a very pleasant café.
Soi Cowboy is a street in the Sukhumvit area. It is full of excited males speaking loud English and of prostitutes hunting for them (or vice versa?) There are several such streets in Bangkok. The most famous is probably Patpong in the Silom area, however Patpong is slowly becoming a tourist attraction where respectable couples go to take a peek at the notorious Bangkok sexual freedom. Soi Cowboy in that sense is the real deal.
So-called Bangkokian Museum. It is a private mansion preserved in the form it had in the first half of last century. A very peaceful and pleasant place.
The main mosque in the Muslim quarter of Bangkok:
And a Muslim cemetery, looking rather forlorn:
The king is just as popular among the Muslim Thais:
The street of the Muslim quarter:
From the Muslim quarter I took a river boat to Wat Arun:
Wat Arun is that huge pyramidal temple that you see across the river when you visit Wat Pho and the Royal Palace.
Rather impressive bas-reliefs:
You can climb Wat Arun, not the highest level though, but even this stairs is quite steep.
The same stairs from above:
The view on the Royal quarter across the river:
I also visited the so-called Snake Farm, very close to Silom. The entrance:
The main building, housing a museum that has all kinds of surprising stories about the lives of snakes:
But the key number of the program is certainly the extraction of poison that is used to produce antidotes against snake bites. I believe it takes place every day at 11. It starts from a rather harmless talk about the reasons and methods of extraction:
Afterwards these rather tough looking guys get the snakes out:
And extract the poison:
You can observe various snakes in the park of the Farm, where they live in concrete boxes with sharp walls they cannot climb. I think this one took an interest in me (I photograph it from above).
Finally I visited the house of the former Thai Prime Minister and a descendant of a king, M.R.Kukrit. In his long career he managed to play an important role in all kinds of spheres of Thailand’s life. The main reception hall:
Kukrit’s portrait in the centre:
The garden separating the reception hall from the main house:
Second floor of the main house, where the main buildings are, including a bedroom,
a small reception:
A small temple where Kukrit’s ashes are:
And a pond behind the house: