In summer 2018, as my short visit to Bangkok (Thailand) began, I found my sight-seeing plans severely curtailed owing to study obligations and ongoing design assignments I had to carry 😦 My movement got confined to some coffee shops and malls around Wireless and Rama I roads, except on the last day when some sight-seeing could be managed. The limited free time was mostly spent walking and taking pictures intermittently. Am pleased to share a visual account of the trip.
The first afternoon in the city was fruitfully spent at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) to see the Bangkok Street Photography Festival 2018. It was a wonderful introduction to Thailand and a lovely experience including browsing through books, art and handicraft stores.
On subsequent days, several walks on the well-designed and clean skywalks on Rama I road connecting nearby malls and buildings to pavements and BTS Skytrain stations were enjoyed.
From the skywalks, one tends to notice the many skyscrapers with glass facades on both sides, sometimes the view is surreal as one or more buildings render on the reflective surface of another; at some places their merging geometry is fascinating.
As compared to what I have experienced in India’s metropolitan cities, the scale and number of malls and shopping options around Rama I road is mind-boggling, almost surreal, and it is perhaps impossible to fathom the variety of products available here and the food options to try.
Like in most Indian cities, profusion of electricity wires on poles could be seen at many places in Bangkok. Am fond of them for they remind me of art installations; at some places they were simply fantastic!
While walking in the city, one is often enveloped by potent smells emanating from the abundant street food stalls. Some of the sensory experiences can be overwhelming specially for those who are vegetarian or vegan..
An inescapable part of the Bangkok experience is road traffic. While traffic jams abound in this mega city, at most places I found the traffic far more organised than in Indian cities. And the fact that hardly anyone honks (unlike in India) despite all the pressure is something to be appreciated, IMHO.
While preparing for the trip, had read that one of the lively aspects of Bangkok traffic is the many brightly coloured cars one gets to see, most of them cabs. And that is so true!
Like in India, many public transport vehicles in Thailand, most notably the Tuk-Tuks, have funky decorations — often matching the fervor with which they are driven!
The following photographs are from an excursion on the last (half) day in the city. As I proceeded towards the river by walking from Hua Lamphong MRT station to ‘River City’, saw that Bangkok has many charming old buildings and bridges over canals, which of course require time to explore and appreciate..
One of the main attractions of Bangkok is Chao Phraya River and the many historical and cultural attractions situated at or close to the river bank. It is also a waterway. The river is a study in contrasts where one gets to observe temples, monuments, cargo vessels and working class people driving boats against a backdrop of super-swanky, towering skyscrapers. The Chao Phraya Tourist Boat was a convenient and efficient way to experience the river.
The spectacular Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn}, one of the most famous landmarks in Thailand, has its own pier and was convenient to reach by the Chao Phraya Tourist HOHO boat. At the temple, was lucky to see The Spiritual Life exhibition organised by Knowing Buddha foundation. Many lovely images of this iconic temple can be browsed via search engines, here are two of its superbly intricate exterior decorated largely by colourful porcelain tiles.
Like in India, mythology makes its presence felt in Thailand. Even in posh areas of Bangkok, right next to swanky malls, in many building compounds and on the streets, temples and mythical figures can be seen and this ‘layer’ does make the experience deeper..
The last evening was spent walking in Lumphini Park, an oasis of nature in the midst of a bustling city, flanked by skyscrapers of Sathorn and Silom, the business districts.
The image below also depicts my pensive mood at that moment, for the trip concluded just when I had started exploring the city..
And last but not the least, as they say the best things cannot be experienced through the senses but felt in the heart, much to my surprise — contrary to what I had read and heard about the city — everyday I experienced random acts of courtesy — by drivers, shopkeepers, staff at coffee shops, guards on the street and strangers at BTS/MRT stations, and was touched by how beautifully people respond if you greet them respectfully. More than anything else, it is this feeling that makes me want to visit Bangkok again..