New month, new destination!
April opens with a postcard from a very exotic place for us, Bangkok!
WHERE IS BANGKOK?
Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand, a country located at the centre of the Indochinese Peninsula in Mainland Southeast Asia.
|Location of Thailand. Wikipedia|
|Location of Bangkok within Thailand. Wikipedia|
The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres (605.7 sq mi) in the Chao Phraya River delta in Central Thailand, and has a population of over 8 million, or 12.6 percent of the country's population. Over 14 million people (22.2 percent) live within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region, making Bangkok an extreme primate city, dwarfing Thailand's other urban centres in terms of importance.
|Bangkok Riverside. Bangkok.com|
...being called "The Venice of the East" after its canals
|Bangkok canal, Bangkokfoodtours.com|
... its rickshaws (a small, light vehicle with two wheels that is pulled by one person on foot or on a bicycle)
...its floating markets!
PLACES TO VISIT
|Bangkok Rickshaws. Wikimedia commons|
|Bangkok Floating Market. Asian Web Direct|
The Grand Palace
|The Grand Palace. Thailand Tourism|
The construction of Bangkok's Grand Palace began in 1782 during the reign of King Rama I, the founder of Chakri Dynasty, to become a royal residence, and it has been the utmost architectural symbol of Thailand ever since. The Grand Palace served as a significant royal residence until 1925 and is now used for ceremonial purposes only.
The Grand Palace is divided into three main zones: The Outer Court, home to royal offices, public buildings and the Temple of Emerald Buddha; the Middle Court, which is where the most important residential and state buildings are; and the Inner Court, which is exclusively reserved for the king, his queen and his consorts.
|Emerald Buddha. Wikimedia commons|
The major attraction of the Outer Court is the Temple of Emerald Buddha, the residence of Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist sculpture: Phra Kaeo Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), which was carved from flawless green jade, situated amid gold-gilded sculptures and ornaments, and fresco paintings of the main ordination hall.
|Temple of Emerald Buddha. Foundtheworld.com|
National Museum of Royal Barges
|Royal Barges Museum. Bangkok.com|
The museum houses a precious collection of historic barges, some of which were built during the reign of King Rama I, more than two hundred years old. These barges are made of high-quality wood and beautifully decorated with vivid colors, mirrors and gold leaves. Each barge’s figurehead was crafted to represent a different kind of animals, which are vehicles of Rama god according to the Hindu belief. (Thais belief that the kings are avatars of Rama god).
|Gamuda. Wikimedia Commons|
Probably the most remembered barge as it’s part of the logo of Tourism Authority of Thailand, the figurehead of the 46-meter-long Suphannahong royal barge features the shape of a mystical swan. It was built in 1911 during the reign of King Rama VI and is one of the four main royal barges which are the vehicles of the king.
|Suphannanhong Barge. Wikimedia Commons|
Today, each royal barge procession consists of 52 boats, propelled by more than 2,000 rowers.
|Bangkok's Chinatown. Wikimedia Commons|
Bangkok’s Chinatown, Thailand’s largest Chinese community, is commonly known among Thais as Yaowarat, according to the name of the road where it is located. The Chinese community dominated trades between Siam (ancient Thailand) and China since the reign of King Rama I, centered around Ratchawong Pier, while the construction of Yaowarat Road hadn’t begun until 1891 during the reign of King Rama V.
|Bangkok's Chinatown by night. Wikimedia commons|
Today, Yaowarat is widely known as the kingdom’s largest center of gold trade and a great foodie destination. Yaowarat simply has two faces: If you visit Yaowarat during the day, what you see along both sides of this one and a half kilometer road are shops selling gold, Chinese herbs, fruits and Chinese restaurants serving authentic cuisine. But if you visit Yaowarat after sunset, the road turns into a street food heaven where a number of food trucks prepare you marvelous food, from Chinese fried noodles to iced Chinese dessert.
|Wat Pho. Thailandtourism.org|
Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimonmangkalaram or Wat Pho, as it's commonly known, was built in the 16th century and regarded as the royal temple of the reign of King Rama I, is famous for two things: (1) the 46-meter-long Reclining Buddha built in 1832 featuring the feet beautifully inlaid with mother-of-pearls and (2) the Thai massage.
|Nangklhao Portrait. Wikimedia Commons|
Wat Pho is also regarded as the country’s first public university as when King Rama III ordered a restoration of the temple, he demanded a revision of lost sciences, segmented into eight categories and engraved them onto several stone inscriptions (later been registered the UNESCO Memory of the World since 2008) so people were free to read and learn—and Thai massage was one of eight the categories. After wandering around wall paintings, you can stop by at the massage pavilion to try traditional Thai massage using ancient techniques to release muscle tensions.
Bangkok is a city of contrast, fragant, colourful, chaotic but most of all lively. It offers loads of opportunities to relax and indulge as Bruna Silva explains in the video below from the Insider TV.