When you’re traveling with a big group of Bangkok first timers you can’t help it but feel like you’re one of them, a regular visitor you may be. Such was the case I was in on the most recent visit to the Big Mango.
There were eleven of us and I think I could have taken the post of the tourist guide but no, I cannot. The best I could suggest was for the group to take the obligatory day tour of the city’s attractions, always the top on the priority list when vising a place for the first time.
It was more than ten years ago since my first temple tour and I must admit the revisit was like the first time. In the company of eager tourist friends, it was fun.
But believe it or not, there are some on the touristy list that I haven’t had done yet. Take for example the Siam Naramit, a show that showcases Thailand’s history and culture via a large stage production with over 100 performers, more than 500 costumes and amazing special effects. It’s an impressive production.
Day Two was devoted for the temple visits.
Wat Traimit, where the 3-meter high, 5.5 ton golden statue of the Buddha is enshrined. History says that the statue was made in the 13th-14th century, but it was only in 1954 when it was discovered that it was made of gold. During its relocation, it was accidently dropped causing the plaster coating to chip of and revealing its inner material.
The Grand Palace, the official residence of the Kings of Siam, was jam-packed with tourists and locals paying tribute to the recently departed King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Within the complex is the Wat Phra Kaew, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand and shrine to the Emerald Buddha. It comes toa surprise to many that the statue is only 26-inch tall, but it is carved from a single block of jade stone (“emerald” in Thai refers to the deep green color and not the specific stone).
A tuktuk ride is a must and it was the special ride arranged by the tour guide to the next temple, Wat Pho, number one on list of six of the highest grade of first-class royal temples in Thailand and holds the largest collection of Buddha images in the country. Renowned among the collection is the 46-meter reclining Buddha.
Another new thing for me was the Chao Phraya dinner cruise, a tourist must-do to which the tickets to several vessels sell like hotcakes.
Dinner and entertainment was quite fun in the company of friends and other nationalities who took turns in performing. Team Philippines, unfortunately, had no willing representatives.
The last day was designated for the elephant ride in a place off the city limits. The long drive was worth it seeing the gleeful faces my friends riding the gentle, trunked mammal.
They had to see Chatuchak and it was the next stop. A few hours is never enough in the shopping mecca, but at least they got the feel (and heat) of the place.
To cool off, the Siam Paragon was the next stop, which was a bad day to go as there was pop group performing in the outdoor plaza and the mall was teeming with young fans. The group apparently didn’t mind it all as they were busy scouring the supermarket with edible Thai finds to take home.
Perhaps they get to see more of Bangkok on their next visit—if I can convince them to do so after enduring the heat and the horrendous traffic. I told them the BTS is the way to go next time.
Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.