Briefly, Bangkok

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. And yet, the experience was rich and interesting; 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 an apt introduction to Thailand and a lovely experience including browsing through books, art and handicraft stores.

Interior shot showing three floors or levels of art galleries with people looking at photographs

Galleries at BACC exhibiting the Street Photo Fest

On subsequent days, enjoyed several walks on the well-designed and clean skywalks on Rama I road connecting nearby malls and buildings to pavements and BTS Skytrain stations.

People walking in a long, elevated corridor with shopping malls and transport buses below visible on the left hand side

At the Ratchaprasong skywalk

From the skywalks, one tends to notice the many skyscrapers with glass facades on both sides, some of the views border on abstraction as one or more buildings render on the reflective surface of another; at some places their merging geometry is fascinating. Here are some examples:

Tall buildings in different colours, some a bit blurred owing to reflections on glass

Skyscraper abstract 01

Fine art photograph of Bangkok showing reflection of a building with a pavilion roof on the glazed glass of another building, and a pole with wires in the front

Skyscraper abstract 04

Tight shot of geometric buildings with many glazed windows, and the bottom of a cellular tower in the foreground

Skyscraper abstract 03

Tight shot of a tall building with windows on many floors and facade of a rounded building in the foreground

Skyscraper abstract 02

Tight shot of a glazed building with funky, colourful graphics on one floor and reflection of another ornamental building on the three floors above

Skyscraper abstract 05

The scale and number of malls and shopping options around Rama I road is mind-boggling, to say the least. To fathom the variety of products available here and the food options to try would be a Herculean task.. The following image perhaps depicts my surreal impression of the malls 🙂

Abstract photograph of escalators spanning several floors of a shopping mall and reflections on their shiny surfaces

People on escalators at a shopping mall on Rama I road

People walking with umbrellas at night in front of lit-up food stalls with reflections and rain patterns visible on the ground below

During a brief spell of rain outside a shopping mall

Like in most Indian cities, profusion of electricity wires on poles could be commonly seen in Bangkok. Am fond of such sights for they remind me of art installations; at places they were fantastic!

Many round bunches of wires hanging from two poles, in front of a tall building

An installation at a street corner

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..

Many portions of grilled meat on wooden sticks displayed on plates

At a street food stall serving Satay

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.

Top view of hundreds of cars lined up in five lanes, waiting for the green signal, adjacent to a nicely lit-up mall facade

Evening traffic near MBK Mall

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!

Tight crop of one yellow (facing left) and one dark green (facing right) cab, covered by droplets of water

Cabs at a traffic intersection, on a rainy afternoon

A tuk-tuk three-wheeler and a red taxi-cab facing left and right, respectively

Waiting for the traffic light to turn green..

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!

Back side of a Tuk-Tuk painted in a funky manner with graphics

That is so cool!

People on colourful bikes and scooters waiting at a zebra crossing

Two-wheelers at an intersection in Chinatown

Woman on a bicycle passing in front of some closed shops with brightly coloured iron shutters

In an alley near Pak Khlong Talat flower market

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..

Light blue colour old building with many windows on two floors, right behind a canal bridge

An old building at Charoen Krung Road

Once a village on the bank of the Chao Phraya River, many of Bangkok’s historical, cultural and commercial attractions are situated at or close to the river. Chao Phraya 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 swanky, towering skyscrapers. The Chao Phraya Tourist Boat was a convenient and efficient way to experience the river.

Boat moving on river and several tall buildings visible behind and above it on the river bank

Contrasts at Chao Phraya river

Cargo barges on Chao Phraya river and several tall buildings visible behind them

Cargo barges and skyscrapers of Sathorn, a collage

Tight shot of colourful floral plastic decorations hanging on the edges of two colourful boats

Decorations on tourist boats at Chao Phraya river

The spectacular Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn}, one of the most famous landmarks in Thailand, has its own pier and was easy to reach by the Chao Phraya Tourist HOHO boat. At the temple complex, also saw 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.

Many different, colorfully decorated levels of Wat Arun

Closeup of the temple facade

Closeup of Wat Arun elevation showing several levels with mythical figures in the middle and colourful decorations all around

Wat Arun, elevation detail

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..

Tight shot of a large, colorful and profusely decorated statue of a mythical giant wearing a helmet and holding a sword

One of the mythical giants at Wat Arun

Traditional, decorated roof over a bright red coloured ATM

The most impressive ATM I have ever seen 🙂

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.

A large Monitor Lizard on grass, right next to a tree trunk

Monitor Lizard at Lumpini Park

Joggers and walkers on a track flanked by trees on both sides, with a skyscraper visible behind them

Fitness enthusiasts at Lumpini Park

The image below also depicts my pensive mood at that moment, for the trip concluded just when I had started exploring the city..

A couple sitting on grass alongside a lake and under a tree, looking towards the skyscrapers of Sathorn at dusk

Enjoying dusk at Lumpini Park

And last but not the least, as they say the best things cannot be imbibed through the senses but felt in the heart, much to my surprise and contrary to what I had read and heard about the city, almost everyday I experienced random acts of kindness: 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; precious experiences that — more than anything else — make me want to visit Bangkok again..

(The photographs above were taken with a Nikon Coolpix P7700 and processed in Affinity Photo.)

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10 comments
  1. Amit Mathur said:

    Amazing Pictures

    • Mayank said:

      Thanks for your kind words, Amit

  2. Avnish said:

    Dear Mayank,

    I have been to Bangkok several times, but your photos and descriptions give an awesome perspective of the place and their culture.

    Congratulations

    • Mayank said:

      Thanks for your kind words, Avnish

  3. Shekhar said:

    Excellent pictures as always. The pictures of buildings are superb. You can surely see what we lesser mortals can not. Keep it up.

    • Mayank said:

      Very kind of you, as always, Shekhar Verma

  4. Holly said:

    Love your “reflections of buildings” series. And I too often take pix of electrical distribution snarls, of course mine are never in focus or composed as yours are! I well remember Wat Arun. How vividly some of the gods/goddesses are painted. (They remind me a bit of putt-putt courses in the US, oh what a philistine I am!) Thanks for sharing these.

    • Mayank said:

      Thanks for our lovely words, Holly, and for your sense of humour 🙂

  5. Pradeep Aeri said:

    Good travel scapes. Reflections add a different perspective. I wish some more images of the heritage buildings, the temples. Looks like mostly you got caught in the cast sky spell or was that preferred.

    • Mayank said:

      Thank you, Pradeep-ji. Yes, I wish I had more time to explore the older part of the city..

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