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Bangkok State of Mind Part One

The Thais calls it Krung Thep or City of Angels. The foreigners christened it Bangkok, or referring to it as a small village within the larger beast. Both names ring true until now when I experienced it on my visit last October. There are angels in all kind of disguises: cheeky lady boys, scooter riding teenagers, chatty taxi drivers, Khao San Road’s infamous frog lady and, of course, monks. The fact that I’m writing the word ‘monk’ and ‘lady boys’ in one sentence speaks more about Bangkok than any guide book could tell you.

All my friends are gushing about how great Bangkok is. Make sure to bring nothing there, you’ll shop until your credit card maxed out and you would have with you more things than you can carry; my girlfriends testified. Party hard until you can’t tell the difference between real women and lady boys; said my snickering boyfriends (like I want to know the details). You would eat the best food in your life there; my die-hard foodie friend declared. What happens in Bangkok, stays in Bangkok; is another general agreement.

I took my mother along for another series of Mother-Daughter adventure (practicing, just in case we decided to join The Amazing Race Asia). We stayed for two nights in Niras Bankoc, a lovely hostel on Rattanakosin area (the coffee house down stair is another plus). It was carefully renovated, neatly kept and surrounded by lively neighborhood. Across the road is the best phad thai noodle I’ve ever eaten in my life, no exaggeration. Khao San Road is only ten minutes walk and boy, am I glad not to stay there! A whole street selling souvenirs, T-shirts, cheap Singhas and populated by walking clich├ęs: young backpackers or perverted older guys gawking at them. I might as well go to Kuta for that.

We did the Grand Palace and avoiding smooth talking scammers who insisted that the entrance is not those huge wooden doors in front of us but the other one.
The most amazing thing about visiting the Grand Palace is the fact that the ticket also allows you to visit another five attractions: The Emerald Buddha Temple, Vimanmek Teak Mansion, Museum Abisek Dusit Throne Hall, Sanam Chandra Temple and the magnificent Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall (visits must be done within 7 days after purchase). We managed to visit two of them based on kind advice by a taxi driver.

Vimanmek Teak Mansion is my absolute favorite, as well as King Rama V’s. It is said to be the largest teak building in the world and who am I to argue. From what I saw on the beautifully crafted wooden panels, superb porcelain collections, beheaded deer and stuffed crocodiles; it is clear the King was a passionate anglophile. It was very easy to lose in time and imagined the King having tea while His Majesty’s servants ran up and down the dark spiral staircase.

While Vimanmek Mansion was nostalgic, the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall will take your breath away. Picture the most unlikely place you’d ever find a grand Italian Renaissance palace you could think of and there you’ll find it in front of you complete with details like imported marble, Italian architects, magnificent frescoes depicting the long history of current ruling dynasty. Strict dress code applied for women: must wear skirt. Otherwise you’d be forced to buy (not borrow, buy) one on the reception.

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