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Thailand, Travel

Wat Pho in Bangkok – Photo Essay

December 14, 2015

 

Wat Pho in BangkokBefore I went to Bangkok, several people told me I needed to go to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Doing some more research, I discovered it is more commonly known in Thailand as Wat Pho. Since I knew it was a must-see, I didn’t do much research on it before I went. Words can not accurately describe this place and it is something you must do in Bangkok. Yes, it is a large tourist attraction, but for good reason. In order to understand what you are looking at, I highly recommend hiring a guide at the temple. I think I paid 170 Baht for a 45-minute tour, which did not include the 100 Baht entry fee. There isn’t any signage inside the temple, so this was helpful as he explained what all the different Buddha stood for and how they built the temple. As always, I recommend you look up!

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok

I hope this gives you a good idea of what Wat Pho is like. Have you been to Wat Pho in Bangkok? What did you think?

Getting there: I took a taxi to get to Wat Pho in Bangkok, which I don’t recommend due to traffic, but I was trying to not get sweaty before an event later that night. You can get there on public transportation although I am not sure if takes less time than a taxi depending on where you are in the city. Take the Skytrain to Saphan Taksin Station S6. (Silom Line), take Exit 2 and go to Chao Phraya River Express Boat Pier. Take the boat heading to Tien Pier (N.8) and walk straight to Wat Pho. You should allow for at least an hour in Wat Pho. Be prepared to take off your shoes in every temple inside Wat Pho.

Thailand, Travel

Exploring the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok

December 7, 2015

 

Chatuchak Weekend MarketBangkok is famous for so many things, but one of the things it is most famous for is shopping. Markets are everywhere in Bangkok including the sidewalks of the streets. One of the tours offered by the TBEX conference was the Chatuchak Weekend Market tour. In case you were wondering, there were tons of tours to choose from, and it was hard to choose one. I wanted to go to the Chatuchak Weekend Market even before I knew it was a tour, and I felt lucky to get this tour, as many went fast. I wanted a spa tour, but never was able to get one.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

The Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest outdoor market in Bangkok. We arrived in the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day and the crowds. The tour guide gave us each a map of the market and showed us where things were. The tour guide said we could split up and then they would collect us in a couple of hours at a designated spot, but we decided to stay together. Staying together proved to be the best idea, because even though I have an excellent sense of direction, I was lost immediately.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Before you even hit the shopping, you notice the food in the center of the market. There were things there I hadn’t seen before plus the usual Thai offerings such as Pad Thai. The coolest thing was that there were these little yellow flags at some stalls, and the guide mentioned that these were to signify that it was vegetarian! Even though I am not vegetarian, I thought this was a great idea and very helpful. I didn’t test it to see if it was true, though.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market

We wandered and bought. I was struck at all the things you could buy. I saw housewares, clothing, dried flowers, fake flowers, fabric, miniature furniture and food for dolls, wedding stuff, tablecloths, soap, wood carved objects, and much more. We didn’t even hit the entire market and this is what I saw. I did more shopping than anyone, as I was determined to buy a lot of my Christmas, presents here. In all, I bought two t-shirts, five scarves, five mini coin purses, two tote bags and a fan. I only spent about $50! If I could have carried more, I probably would have bought more. If you are on a serious shopping trip, I recommend bringing a big bag or backpack to carry everything. Just beware of pickpockets.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market

The thing that struck me the most was how clean and organized the market was. The streets were clean and nothing smelled! This was amazing to me considered the food and the loads of people who visit every day. You could tell the stall operators helped keep the streets clean, but I didn’t see any cleaners, so I am not sure how this was maintained. The other thing was how greenery and flowers also seemed to be everywhere. It added to the atmosphere and the feeling of clean in the market.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market

After all the shopping, I was ready to drop literally! I got really overheated and dehydrated and was probably on the verge of passing out. Once more crowds arrived and the day wore on the heat between the stalls grew intense and I was ready to eat lunch. This was after a brief respite with a sugary popsicle that you can get for 5 Baht, which is about .$14. We decided to eat in the market and I had excellent Pad Thai for 70 Baht, about $1.95! Not only were all the tourists eating there, but so were the locals and that is always a good sign. My fellow tour group members also ordered BBQ pork, which they raved about.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market

If I hadn’t been so tired, I could have stayed and shopped more. After eating, we decided to head back to our hotels. So if you really want to do the whole market, plan for the whole day and stay hydrated.

Getting there: My recommendation is to take the MRT to the Kampheng Phet station and skip getting off at the Chatuchak Park station. The guides said the Chatuchak Park station is quite a walk from the part of the market you want to be in. The Kamphen Phet station lets you off in the market and right next to a restroom if you need one after the long subway ride. The Chatuchak Weekend Market is open on Saturdays and Sundays. The hours I found online varied, but I would say 9:00 AM is probably a good bet. According to one website, the flower section is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Hotel/Accommodation, Thailand, Travel

The Continent Hotel – Bangkok, Thailand

November 30, 2015

 

Many of you know that I was in Bangkok for TBEX Asia, which is a travel bloggers conference. TBEX had provided us a long list of hotels in Bangkok and many of them had offered us discounted rates for the week of TBEX. Knowing that I needed to be at the conference center for several days, I began to look at what hotels were closest and then narrowed it down from there. After looking at prices and services offered, I decided on The Continent Hotel. I didn’t really look at hotels not on the list because there are so many hotels in Bangkok and I was already feeling overwhelmed.

The Continent Hotel

Booking the hotel and getting the confirmation was seamless and they gave me a 30% off coupon to use in one of their restaurants during my stay. Because I had heard traffic is terrible in Bangkok, I opted to take the train into the hotel. It meant changing trains, but it didn’t seem like it would be that hard looking at the map. The hotel looked close to the train stop as well. The one thing I hadn’t counted on was the humidity! By the time I arrived hauling my suitcase, I looked like a sweaty, frizzy-haired, exhausted person. Fortunately, the hotel was a half a block from the train station and I easily spotted it from the road. It was a bit pushed back from the road.

They greeted me with a cold shot of juice, which was much appreciated. I mentioned that I was there for TBEX and much low talking ensued. They made a phone call and then they told me they were trying to get me upgraded to a higher floor. After a few minutes, they succeed. As you can see from the picture above, the view was good. I was not too high up to see what was happening on the street below either.

The Continent Hotel in Bangkok

While I was grateful that I had been given a higher floor, I think I paid the price as I was put next to the storage room for the housekeeping supplies. Every morning I could hear them getting stuff in and out and the door would slam. Fortunately, I was usually up early for breakfast. There were not many rooms on each floor and I could hear people talking in the halls. However, it never woke me up. I could hear my noisy neighbor one night through the wall, which isn’t too bad since I was there six nights.

The Continent Hotel in Bangkok

The room itself was nice decorated. It was modern and felt cozy. The room was not large, but I was not expecting it to be. The bed was comfortable and had plenty of pillows. There were plenty of power points around the room and a good sized desk. The closet was small and was hard to get to since it could only be accessed by closing the bathroom door. I like to unpack, so this was sometimes an issue.

The Continent Hotel in Bangkok

The bathroom was a good size and the shower was huge! There seems to be a trend lately of hotel rooms that have windows from the bathroom looking out into the room. This is okay if you are staying by yourself, but can be awkward if staying with a friend. This bathroom had blinds, which helped. The best part of the bathroom was the rainfall shower head! That felt so good after a day of sightseeing. Just wish there had been a bathtub as well.

The Continent Hotel in Bangkok

Staying at The Continent Hotel in Bangkok is a great place to get a great view of the city. Not only did my room have a great view, but so did the restaurants and the pool. The breakfast was served in their Italian restaurant that had floor to ceiling windows with amazing views of the city and the trains going by. The pool overlooks the city with a glass wall. I am only sad that I didn’t get to take a swim in it, but I didn’t have time. There is another restaurant up higher and I went there to eat one night but had to stay in the bar area because of a private party. I never did get to see the view from there.

The Continent Hotel in Bangkok

The Continent Hotel in Bangkok

The best part of all these views was being able to see the balconies and gardens of the citizens of Bangkok. I felt like I was getting a glimpse into their world. Although, I never did see anyone on the balconies or in the gardens. It was clear that people spend time on them, but maybe it was still too hot.

Overall, I would recommend The Continent Hotel in Bangkok. The room was comfortable, the location was perfect, the views stunning and the food was great. Just make sure you ask for a room away from the elevator and you should be fine. Also, see if you can score a higher room as the views are worth it.

Getting there: From the airport take the Airport Rail Link train to the Makkasan station. Walk over the sky bridge to the MRT station, the Phetchaburi station. Take the train in the direction of the Hua Lamphong Station and get off at the next stop, which is the Sukhumvit Station. The hotel is about one block away. It is tucked away off the street so be sure to look for the sign that faces the street.

Thailand, Travel

Thai Silk Weaving

November 16, 2015

Thai Silk Weaving

After walking through the traditional Thai style house that Jim Thompson built in Bangkok, we walked along the canal behind the house. The guide was taking us to see the silk manufacturing area or at least that is what he called it. Several times he repeated that this was the Muslim neighborhood of Bangkok as if that was relevant somehow. Along the canal, we pass several small food carts that had set up chairs along the covered walkway as if it was a restaurant. While the Thai people are too polite to stare at these two western girls walking through their neighborhood, it was clear they were surprised to see us outside a tourist area. We crossed a footbridge that led us into the neighborhood. Being that it was a weekday morning, the neighborhood was quiet as most people were at work or school. The buildings were closely packed together, but well-kept and cared for.

Thai Silk Weaving

Walking down the canal path on the opposite side of the Jim Thompson House, we turned into a small street or in Thai, a soi. Most people would call it an alleyway, but since people lived on the street, it seemed unfair to call it an alleyway. The guide announced we had arrived! Arrived, arrived where, I thought. We entered what looked like a small shack, nothing like the neat, orderly houses facing the canal. An older Thai man sat just inside and spoke to our guide. We took off our shoes as is customary in Thailand. The guide explained that this man worked with Jim Thompson and still manufactured silk for the company. The guide urged us to go up some small stairs without explaining why and for a minute I was worried about what I was going up to see.

Thai Silk Weaving

We ducked under a pipe that had bright blue silk drying on it. On the way up, you could see a man standing over huge boiling pots of water. The guide explained he was dying silk. Emerging at the top of the stairs, we had to duck again into an attic space. Looking up, I was in awe! There before me were row upon row of neon bright skeins of silk hanging to dry. The colors were so intense; I had to blink in order to focus on them. To get further into the room, we had to crouch down under the first set of silk skeins. The color screamed out at me to touch it, but I didn’t dare in case I would be ruining the process. Once woven together as a piece of fabric, the silk would not be so bright, but would still be beautiful.

Thai Silk Weaving

Thai Silk Weaving

Thai Silk Weaving

The floor was covered in pieces of wood, and I was conscious of trying to avoid splinters but also was extremely aware that what I was experiencing was special. I wasn’t sure how many people get to do this or know that it is an option to do, as I am sure that Mr. Aood doesn’t have busloads of tourists coming to his shop. However, he was extremely generous with his time. Upon returning to the ground floor, we went further into the shop, which had a lived in feel. In a corner of the shop, out of sight from the main door, sat a woman weaving silk into fabric. While I have seen wool woven, the silk weaving processed seemed more delicate and detailed. The silk is so fine; I am not even sure how the woman saw what she was doing. As you can see, the results are beautiful.

Thai Silk Weaving

This beautiful silk would probably not be produced here today for two reasons. For one the Muslim community, I learned after returning home, in this area of Bangkok came from Muslims fleeing from Vietnam from the 14th to 18th century. These people helped the Thai fight the Burmese in 1767 and were awarded this land for helping. These people had brought the fine silk weaving skills with them. This too would have faded if Jim Thompson had not revived the trade in the late 1940s. Even today, most of the weaving has been moved from this neighborhood into factories and may not be there forever.

Getting there: My recommendation would be to find a tour to take you. While there are signs, I am not sure you could find it on your own. Also, Mr. Aood does not speak much English, and while I am sure you would be welcome, you might have a hard time communicating. My tour was provided by the Thailand Tourism Board as a part of attending TBEX Asia. Here is one tour I found, but I cannot speak to the quality or prices of the tour. I also found two articles with instructions on how to get there on your own, one is from Travelfish.org and the other is Tour Bangkok Legacies.

Have you been to one of these weavers on a tour? Tell us how you got there in the comments.

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