Wandering through Bangkok, Thailand

Izabel Antle's picture
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To my left, tuk-tuks and moped drivers zoom by faster than I can say sawatdee ka (hello). To my right, the street is lined with hundreds of stalls of delicious smelling Thai food and handcrafted goods. Towering above my head are metal giants - skyscrapers. There is only one place I could be: Bangkok. 

Nestled above the Bay of Thailand is Bangkok, the modern and vibrant, yet still traditional, capital city of Thailand. The city is a unique place where western influences and traditional Thai culture intertwine to create the tastes, sounds, smells, and sights that can only be found here.

Wandering through Bangkok, Thailand

In the morning, I see Buddhist temples with carefully crafted, intricate designs on the walls, gates, and roofline. The oldest and most famous of these is Wat Pho. The grand temple, built in the 16th century, was named after the monastery of the Bodhi tree. This famous tree is located in India, and is where Buddhists believe Buddha attained enlightenment. The temple, although one of the most visited, is just one of 40,717 in Thailand today. Of these, only 34,000 are currently in use. Shiny gold statues of the Buddha and pointed roofs are a common sight at any of those 34,000. Inside, monks chant and bells ring uniting all who gather to pray. Thais, young and old, drop coins into metal bowls which click and clang together. Giving a donation is said to bring good luck. 

Wandering through Bangkok, Thailand

Outside the temple grounds, the city reappears and all tranquility disappears. Vehicles of all kinds dominate the streets, honking and skidding to a stop at red lights. People shout to me in Thai to persuade me to buy something from them. Maybe an interesting necklace, knick-knack, or a bowl of spicy soup? Even better, something unusual- maybe some fried crickets or moths? Every day in Bangkok encompasses the odd and beautiful. 

Around noon, it's time to eat. Every few steps there is a new food stall wafting delicious smells into the streets. Sweet smelling jasmine rice, spicy curry, peanut sauce, rice noodles. The choice is hard, but I settle for a steaming bowl of stir fry egg noodles, with teriyaki sauce and chicken made by a smiling old woman. The secret to getting good food despite the language barrier is to point at what everyone else is eating and simply show one finger. Whenever I do this, I get the best food on the menu - the locals know what’s best. A meal from a street vendor generally costs around 20-30ish Baht no matter what you order. 

Can’t handle spicy? Have no fear. Generally, meals come with four different sauces to add: a spicy chili and vinegar sauce, white sugar, fish sauce, and chili powder. This way, you can add as much spicy or sweet as you please. If you are still worried, most Thais will understand if you say “spicy” or “non-spicy” while you order, and cook something to your liking. 

 I say koopk uun ka (thank you) right before digging in. Bean sprouts crunch in my mouth and the spicy sauce stings my tongue. Like all food in Thailand, it is a-roi (delicious). 

Street food - Wandering through Bangkok, Thailand

Afternoon comes and goes and soon the sky is dark. Bangkok, however, does not sleep. Night markets are everywhere, and are very fun to explore. Groups of musicians, both kids and adults, play traditional music. Their melodies intermingle with the sounds of locals talking, laughing, eating, and shopping to their hearts content. Carrying bags of local produce and some new pants, I hop on the train home. I tasted and smelled amazing food, I felt the soft fabric of handmade clothing, I saw majestic temples and busy streets, and I heard the sounds of prayers, as well as laughter and chatting on the streets. Exhausted but happy, I watch from the train window as my quiet neighborhood comes into view and the bright lights of the city fade away.

Wandering through Bangkok, Thailand

 

Izabel Antle is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She's traveling the world with her family - follow her adventures at https://wheremycarryontakesme.wordpress.com/

 

Photo courtesy and copyright Izabel Antle

 

 

 

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