Day 45: Bangkok

This morning, after a decent breakfast, I headed off into the bustle of the streets to see what I could find. I don’t think it dropped much lower than 24c last night, but my room had air-conditioning, so I had that on. Left me with a bit of a thick head, but it soon went.

It is pretty obvious that you have to be nuts to drive here, especially as a tourist or ad hoc visitor, so I thought I would see what the transport system was like. It’s mid morning and already about 28c, so I pick up some water in a shop and head towards Ramkhamhaeng station across the road. The first thing with these transit systems, and it’s fair to say this for any of them, is that you don’t know where anything is. Thankfully, the map is in both Thai and English, so if only I can match the name to something I want to see!

Colourful, but not entirely helpful.

I make my way west and to the old city of Thunburi. Bangkok is seriously busy. I contemplated not bothering with the transit and just getting a cab, but that didn’t look like a sensible thing to do, considering how slow the traffic was.

With the sacking of Ayutthaya in 1767, King Taksin made his new capital at Thonburi and built the impressive palace near the bank of the Chao Phraya River. Its location made for a better defence, being closer to the sea and this became important in defending itself from frequent Burmese invasions. King Rama I moved the capital to Bangkok in 1782, but Thonburi remained independent until it was merged in to the ever-growing Bangkok in 1972. The Palace seems rather squeezed, but impressive all the same.

The Palace has been the official home of many Kings since it was built, and one particular king is better know as the inspiration for the novel Anna and the King of Siam. In 1861, King Mongut asked for an English lady to be the governess to the royal children. Anna Leonowens arrived with her five year old son, and the King, showing his progressive nature and understanding of world affairs, discussed these modern ways. The novel was published in 1944, based on the diaries of Anna Leonowens. The film was release in 1956 staring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. Certainly one of my favourites.

King Mongut and his Prince

Yul Brynner. Not a King.

It would be wrong not to mention that Bangkok is renowned as the city where you can get anything, and I mean, anything. Prostitution is actually illegal in Thailand but that doesn’t stop the hundreds of massage  parlours, saunas and hourly hotels where this is readily available. I head down to the river and take one of the many boats that serve tourists and locals and sail up the river. Bangkok has an extensive canal system and has often been referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’. Unfortunately, although there are still many markets that still trade along the banks, the canals are heavily polluted. The boat comes out into the main river, which was a surprise to me as I thought I was on the river, not a canal, and I get off the boat at Tha Chang Pier and find a very nice restaurant called Supathra River House. It’s only just after six, but I thought an early dinner would be nice and to spend a couple of hours overlooking the river.

By the time I get back to my hotel I am shattered. I have a long drive north tomorrow, so I’ll take a shower, get some sleep and be fresh for the morning.

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One Response to Day 45: Bangkok

  1. Jim says:

    Hi Carson,
    Much appreciate the comment.
    It’s been an educational 62 days so far and I have just arrived in Japan on my current leg. Yet to travel across the Pacific, so pop back and see how I am getting on.

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