City of Angels
16 December 2014
The City of Angels never ceases to amaze me. The rich culture, Thais’ undivided loyalty to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, their forever-smiling faces, the amazing shopping, the deliciously spiced cuisine, the amazing traditional-styled massages.. the list seems to go on and on forever! I found myself coming back again and again over the years and always discover something new.
My favourite place in all of Bangkok and one that I never got bored of no matter how many times I visited has to be Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of The Emerald Buddha). Located within the grounds of the Grand Palace, this sprawling temple complex houses a much revered mini Buddha statue carved from a block of Emerald Jade (hence the name). Unfortunately, the statue is rather small and placed so high-up on an altar above the worshipers that I could barely take a good look. I was however blown away by Wat Phra Kaew’s incredible architecture and design- almost EVERYTHING was gilded, tiled or bejewelled! Just WOW!! Being a history and culture buff, each visit warrant at least 2 hours because I just couldn’t seem to get enough of the epic Ramayana murals and Jataka stories extensively adorning the temple walls.
The other 2 temples which I liked are the famous Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). The former houses a huge reclining Buddha made from gold leaf and is very accessible from Wat Phra Kaew at just an easy 10-15 minutes walk away (however it can be really uncomfortable at times due to the sweltering weather). I learnt that Wat Pho is also home to one of the earliest Traditional Thai Massage and Medicine schools in Thailand. No welcome drinks, no private rooms, no aromatic oils, no frills whatsoever but boy-oh-boy their massaging skills were really topnotch! My body almost screamed in pain whilst they were doing it but felt SO good afterwards :D
As for Wat Arun, I actually preferred admiring the temple all lighted up from a distance under the starry skies onboard a Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise. This luxurious cruise liner plies the Chao Phraya River nightly serving up a delicious buffet spread accompanied by a live band. Me and hubby loved the food but loved the amazing views even more! Wat Arun was simply breathtaking at night, and so were the Rama Bridge, Grand Palace and all the other shimmering attractions!
Let’s not forget the amazing museums I visited over the years. Vimanmek Musuem (a former royal palace) is the world’s largest golden teak mansion and I absolutely love the European influence and the intricately-carved Thai Barges collection. Suan Pakkad Palace Museum houses a unique collection of Thai antiques and 3 or 4 gorgeous traditionally-built heritage pavilions. The Jim Thompson House meanwhile boasts the most beautiful silk collection and South East Asian art and furniture pieces.
Yes, Bangkok is certainly one of my most favourite places in the world. Great culture, great history, great food (Tom Yam and Mango Sticky Rice’s a MUST!), great shopping (everyone should visit the weekend Chatuchak Market at least once- a maze of haphazardly-located stalls where I got to bargain to my heart’s content for some really fantastic clothes and accessories… they even sell pets! ) and of course, some of the best hospitality in the world!
Of course I’m talking about Shangri-La Bangkok. Bangkok and its’ chaotic traffic and streets really tested my nerves at times, and it was always a joy to come back to such relaxing luxury and hospitality! I love how the staffs were always greeting hotel guests with the most genuine smiles anywhere on the property. Totally Thai hospitality at its’ best. The location was perfect! Right on the riverfront and next to a BTS station; I don’t think any other hotel could beat that! I also loved the complimentary hotel shuttle boat that takes guests to Asiatique (a huge shopping mall and night bazaar combined). I heard the ladyboy cabaret performance there were pretty good, though I didn’t quite get around to it :) I actually prefer to spend my nights at the hotel more. The rooms were spacious and the beds SO comfy! The Chocolate Boutique located at the Lobby was also a delightful discovery… there were even race-cars make up from chocolate. I was truly impressed! Thank You Bangkok and Shangri-La was the most amazing Thai experience ever!