We caught the train from Chiang Mai back to Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok.  The twelve hour journey cost us 600 Thai Bahts (about £12) but I wonder how much it would have been had we travelled with British Rail?  I dread to think.

We have decided to treat ourselves for a few days before we head off to Vietnam on Wednesday morning, so we are staying at the beautiful Amari Atrium Hotel, whilst we explore the delights of Bangkok. 

Instead of taking a taxi from the hotel into the city centre, we opted to take a khlong boat along one of the canals – OH BOY – what an experience.  I’ll tell you more about that in another post though. 

First on the list was Wat Phra Kaew, Thailand’s most important and sacred temple and home of the Emerald Buddha, together with the adjoining Grand Palace.  Wat Phra Kaew is an architechtural wonder of gleaming and gilded stupas, polished orange and green roof tiles, mosaic-encrusted pillars and rich marble pediments.  The revered Emerald Buddha (which is actually made of jade) resides in the temple complex’s main chapel.  To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the Emerald Buddha as it is only just over 60 centimetres tall and sits high above the heads of worshipers in a glass case, making it difficult to see. 

Next stop was Wat Pho, home of the spectacular Reclining Buddha.  Whereas the Emerald Buddha was smaller than we had imagined, it was hard to take in the sheer scale of the Reclining Buddha at 15 metres highand 46 metres long with his right arm supporting his head.   Even his feet are 3 metres high and 4.5 metres long and are inlaid with mother-of-pearl.  It’s a sight for sore eyes!

We strolled around Th Khoa San, the infamous backpacker ghetto mentioned in Alex Garland’s book The Beach, but to be honest, we are very glad to be staying where we are!

Overall, even though there are some classical places to visit, we have found Bangkok to be too big and busy to negotiate easily.  We have been astonished by the luxury and wealth alongside the abject poverty and squalor within the city.