A Travellerspoint blog

The Major Sights of Bangkok

sunny

Yup, at last I got off my arse and did the city real justice in traipsing round the considerable wonders lying close to Banglumphu district where I was staying. Unfortunately the heat really did make this an endurance test, with the interminable traffic making it an obstacle course into the bargain. First off the mark after witnessing again one of the many colourful royal banners crescenting over a highway, I discovered the City Pillar Shrine, a pointy pyramidal obelisk similar in style to the crown of many temples. This was ground zero for Bangkok, the original foundation site where King Rama I picked his spot for his new capital in 1782. Its inscribed with the horoscope of the city on a gold plate weighing interestingly 1 Baht (the Thai currency), about 15.2 grams. The neighbouring Ministry of Defence building used to be a barracks of 19th century era, beautifully presented as ever in cream and lemon with many cannons lying outside on the lawn, it was like a palace. Next the Drum Tower, actually a modern reconstruction of what had once been a signalling station of sorts. Each of its 3 stories housed a large drum of varying tones, with the first signalling dawn and dusk, the second used as a fire alarm, and the third serving to warn of invaders attacking the city. Wat Po across the road is one of the city's major buddhist temples, very large and ornate with typical multicoloured pointy architecture gleaming of gold and I inadvertantly sneaked inside through a rear entrance. I didnt go inside any of the buildings but got the idea by peeking through open doorways and windows to see predictable golden buddha statues, before shirking off the belated demand for the 50 Baht entry fee. This then took me along an overtly less touristy throng of buddhist trinket sellers, the propensity of which was a lesson in the importance of it to the national psyche. Pavements too clogged to negotiate were awash with yellow polo shirted devotees pondering over talismans and other less discernible charms. Passing the aforeventured National Museum, I found in a small park the surprising Expeditionary Force Memorial. Remarkably it contains the ashes of volunteer soldiers killed during World War I after Thailand belatedly declared war on Germany, only joining in the fun on June 20th 1918. They returned to Thailand from Europe in September 1919, and Thais commemorate Armistice Day here annually. Unfortuantely, Thailands motives for going to war were explained upon it only in Thai.

I went back to the MBK cinema at Siam Square that night, where I'd arranged to meet up with a stunning German chick I'd hit on, she said she would be shopping there anyway. She had a boyfriend and it was her last full day in Bangkok so it wasnt wholly unexpected when she didnt show up. Determined not to get hurt, I'd convinced myself enough that I didnt really care, but still felt a bit if a dickhhead standing around for 20 minutes waiting on the inevitable. I really hadnt wanted to go to the flics on my own but with time to kill I consoled myself with a Starbucks before going to see 28 Weeks Later, a pretty full on horrific spectacle which left me tangibly shocked. It perhaps wasnt the best medicine for my aching heart. Later on back at Khao San I got inexplicably flagged over by one of 2 young English chicks, who upon learning that I was Scottish chirped up that oh, she'd been in Scotland just last month. She struggled to recall the name of the place but eventually stuttered Dun-ferm-line. They were pretty blitzed and were acting like kids so I elected to just walk away and make way for their 2 young male sidekicks. Gentlemanly, one of them said they werent together so I should fill my boots. Just one more avenue for regret.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Thailand

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