Initial Thoughts: As my flight begins to descend and we break through the cloud cover, I see the patchwork of green fields below. Suddenly it hits me – I’ve survived my fight, I’ve survived 24 hours of travel, I’ve survived a heartbreaking week of goodbyes. I am finally here in Thailand and my adventure begins. As I make my way into the busy, hot, humid, concrete-filled city of Bangkok, I’m overwhelmed by my first sights and smells of Asia. The crowds, the traffic, the pollution, the garbage, the skyscrapers, the temples, and the endless shopping malls all vie simultaneously for my attention. Wandering the streets, I discover Bangkok, Thailand is a city of extremes and I am immediately captivated by this juxtaposition. I’ve always loved opposites – the bustle of cities and the quiet of nature; soaring highs and intense lows; sophisticated, cultural exhibits and disorganized, local markets – and Bangkok delivers in spades.
Best Moment: On my first day in Bangkok, after more than 24 hours of travel and a 12 hour time difference, I was too wired to sleep. I chose instead to wander the streets with my camera, my favourite thing to do when I arrive in a new destination. I was staying in the district of Siam and my wanderings took me through a busy shopping district, down tiny alleys filled with street food vendors and eventually along the Saen Saeb canal in the Thai-Muslim community of Baan Krua. As my body began to tire and my nerves began to fray from the sensory assault, I took refuge in the tranquil gardens of Jim Thompson House, a museum showcasing the gorgeous Thai-style mansion of an American silk exporter. The beautiful architecture, the colourful silks, and the shady tropical gardens were a perfect place to process my busy day.
Take Away: Many travellers say a day or two in Bangkok is all you need to see the sights. While this might be true, I find it hard to believe you can get a real sense of a city without venturing beyond the main tourist attractions. In a city as vast, dynamic and contrasting as Bangkok, I easily spent my seven days in endless exploration. I did visit the most well-known landmarks including the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Chatchuchak Market but some of my favourite moments were spent riding the commuter ferry on the Chao Phraya River, wandering around countless markets including Pak Khlong Market Flower Market and sampling foods from the dozens of stalls outside my hostel. I was reminded again that my preferred way of travel is slow and unplanned – allowing adventures to unfold before me.
Want to know which traditional dishes I loved in Thailand? Click here!
See more photos of Bangkok on the Global Locavore Facebook page!
Now It’s Your Turn: Take a risk, follow your heart and book that plane ticket! I booked my ticket to Bangkok knowing next to nothing about the city or all of Thailand for that matter, but I knew in my heart I wanted an adventure. In the weeks that lead up to my trip, I read all I could about Bangkok through blogs, news sites and my favourite travel guide – Lonely Planet Bangkok.
I never travel without a Lonely Planet and wholeheartedly encourage you to buy one before visiting a country for the first time. If you plan to take the guide with you, or visit multiple countries like I did than a great idea is to buy the e-version and load them on to your trusty Kindle. I love my Kindle as it is super convenient, has lasted for years and holds all my novels as well as guidebooks!
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