A Tourist in Bangkok

Bangkok is the city of business and shopping, but it is also home to historical wats and palaces. I took several days to explore the sights and if I had been counting my steps I'm confident I would have been over 20,000 each day. Seriously, I was once the proud owner of white converse; I am now the even prouder owner of well-worn, tan converse. As any good tourist would, I took too many pictures and have included a higher number than usual in this post; bear with me.

The big go-to spots in Bangkok include the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Khao San Road. All are brimming with tourists, particularly the large groups with leaders waving flags, but that doesn't make the views any less stunning. The Grand Palace was my first stop. It was the official residence of the king and his family, but is now used for ceremonial events. Built in 1782, the Grand Palace boasts numerous buildings, courtyards and gardens. It is also home to Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand's most precious Buddha figure. As is typical with the wats of Thailand, the buildings are ornately decorated and the detailing is stunning. 

 view of the front of the grand palace's main building

view of the front of the grand palace's main building

 Figures surrounding a spire at Wat Phra Kaew

Figures surrounding a spire at Wat Phra Kaew

 beautiful gold leaf wall paper depicting historical stories of Thailand

beautiful gold leaf wall paper depicting historical stories of Thailand

Wat Pho is located just a block from the Grand Palace and is home to the famous reclining Buddha statue. The wat itself is located on a large compound comprised of many smaller temples and numerous gold plated spires. Walking around you come across an endless maze of courtyards filled with Buddha statues. The main feature, the reclining Buddha, is absolutely enormous. It is also impossible to get a good picture, I did my best!

 Looking up at the head of the reclining buddha (it continues for the length of a full body)

Looking up at the head of the reclining buddha (it continues for the length of a full body)

 a courtyard enclosed with seated buddha statues

a courtyard enclosed with seated buddha statues

 an example of the ornate tiling that exists on most Thai wats and buildings

an example of the ornate tiling that exists on most Thai wats and buildings

 A beautiful temple on the grounds of wat pho

A beautiful temple on the grounds of wat pho

From the Grand Palace and Wat Pho I walked the few blocks to Khao San Road, backpacker heaven. It is a tourist centric place with hostels, bars and countless trinket stalls. The streets are packed with tourists from all parts of the world, visiting for all lengths of time. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on my travels as I talked to others over lunch about their plans to go to Chiang Mai and Phuket, places I had just been and loved. 

On my travels I have met a number of tourists from Europe, Australia, and Canada, but surprisingly very few from the United States. In fact, once when asked to take a picture of a group of guys from Utah they exclaimed, "You're the first American we've met here!". If Americans are rare in Thailand, solo, female Americans are endangered. Though don't be nervous that traveling solo was a mistake, I met countless solo, female travelers the UK, France and Germany and never once felt unsafe. 

 The start of Khao San Road with countless billboards and shops

The start of Khao San Road with countless billboards and shops

After a day of touristing (new verb) I am ready to head back to the hotel and take off my well-worn converse. I feel accomplished, exhausted and exhilarated all at once.