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The Big Mango

Written on: Thursday February 12th, 2009

A journal entry from: Thailand 2009

After a 12 hour overnight train from Chiang Mai, I got to Bangkok aka the Big Mango at 5am! The train itself was so noisy/bumpy I don't know if I actually slept vs just dozed. I got my 1st tuk tuk (Thailand's particular brand of shitty, open-air motorised transport) from the station to the backpacker ghetto, Khao San Road.

One of the 1st things I noticed was Khao San Road had A LOT of tattoo parlours. And, a lot of them claimed to have won "prizes" or "competitions" for their work. They can't ALL be winners right? By the end of Thailand, I would be completely sick of seeing half-naked backpackers with massive tattoos on their legs/torso/arms/face - I never want a tattoo now!

 Today, I saw the main palace-y and wat-y sights in Bangkok. 1st stop, the national museum to learn all about Thailand's history and ramas (kings). Some of the kings actually seem cool, compared to the exceptional mediocrity of the British royal family. Maybe it's all the fresh air and multiple wives (i.e. inter-generational inbreeding). My favourite is King Mongkut (the guy played by Yul Brenner in the King & I), who did such astonishing feats as (1) legislate that wives/children can't be sold as slaves without the potential slave's permission and (2) insist that all men wear a shirt when meeting the king. Mmm visionary.

 

Then, I headed to Lak Meuang (Bangkok's city shrine) which amusingly has all the cannons of the military building next door pointing at it! I think it's some Buddhist thing where if someone invades Bangkok, the Bangkokians will destroy Lak Meuang first to put off the invaders. 

Then, to Wat Pho to see a 46m long gold buddha, complete with gold nipples! This is where I think I noticed every single place I visit seems to be in the middle of renovations - same thing happened in Vietnam I think.

Then, to the Grand Palace to see big gold encrusted buildings, European buildings with Thai roofs, a 300-400m long mural of the Ramayana.

But, the best Wat of all was Wat Arun. I had to catch a Thai version of the CityCat (the Chao Praya Express) to get there across the river. The Wat itself is awesome because you get to climb up 20-40m up VERY STEEP STAIRS on one of the big buildings that looks like a bell. I almost didn't make it with a long skirt and a backpack to negoiate.