Thursday, January 10, 2019

Traveling in Thailand, Day 2: First sights of the City

After a long day of travel, I slept a bit and woke up mid-morning. I didn’t have plans for my first day in Bangkok and since it was still Sunday in Seattle, I had plenty of time before needing to work. I decided to go visit the Grand Palace.

The palace grounds were stunning. The temples there are incredibly intricate and ornate, with metal, glass, and ceramic tiles.

My favorite aspect of the Grand Palace was the inner facade of the exterior wall. The entire thing's a mural. As you walk along it, you can feel an animated story unfolding. My curiosity led me to later learn this art captures the Ramakien, which is Thailand's national epic. I was surprised to learn that much of Thailand’s mythology was derived from Hindu mythology. When I get home, I'll be ordering an English translation.

After a couple hours of being captivated by these new sights, I wondered away from the palace and found myself in a market dedicated to trading in Buddhist charms. As I explored, I noticed a number of people intensely inspecting charms under high-powered magnifying glasses. It turns out there's a whole economy around Buddhist charms in Thailand. It's like a collectible economy where certain charms are believed to bring good luck. Some are rare because of they're one-off creations intended as gifts at royal ceremonies.

After walking around in the heat all day, I took a nap and woke up in the evening. I headed straight out to the premier Muay Thai stadium in Thailand, Rajadamnern Stadium. It was a thrill to watch such skilled athletes and I'd highly recommend it. It's also worth spending some time learning about Muay Thai in advance, because you'll get a lot more out of it.

Before heading home, I ended up making a final stop at a well-known Phad Thai restaurant called Phad Thai Thipsamai. I had the good fortune of choosing an Airbnb directly across the street. I don't actually like Phad Thai much because in the US, it tends to taste like noodles in ketchup. However, when I tried both their “modern” and “traditional” Phad Thai, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed the traditional one quite a bit. It seemed a bit less sweet, a bit more savory, and overall lighter on the sauce.

And, with the sun having risen in Seattle, I began my workday at 11:30pm in Bangkok.