Sawadee Bangkok!

Following a great week in Singapore we took a flight north to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand.

We arrived in Bangkok in the evening and took a taxi to our hotel in the Sukhumvit neighborhood. Along the way we practiced saying “Sawadee” (hello) with the kids. By the time we checked into our room it was rather late so we found some dinner and called it a night.

The next morning we were up early, ready to explore the city. We started with a longtail boat ride along the Chao Phraya river.

We cruised along the main river for a while, then floated through some smaller canals. It was interesting to see the homes and rivers along the water. At one point an old lady rowed her boat over to us, eager to sell some cold drinks and souvenirs.

Wat Arun

When we reached the dock at Wat Arun, we disembarked so that we could explore the “Temple of Dawn.”

This temple dates back to the 1600s and features white prang (towers) decorated with colorful ceramic pieces.

Wat Phra Kaew

Our next stop was the “Temple of the Emerald Buddha”. Despite the fact that we had visited the temple on a couple of prior occasions, we forgot that adults are required to wear long pants. Luckily the enterprising staff were happy to sell us some fashionable bottoms.

The temple features a fascinating array of statues depicting different characters from the Ramayana.

These scary looking creatures seemed to be engaged in some kind of ceremonial dance. Behind them were some more statues. 😉

As the name suggests, an emerald Buddha image sits in the main temple building. This Buddha was supposedly discovered in Chiang Rai in the year 1434. The Buddha is protected by two huge giants that guard the temple entrance.

Wat Pho

Just down the street is Wat Pho, home to a much larger (and more relaxed) Buddha. This reclining Buddha is 150 feet long, making it pretty hard to capture in a single photo.

Aside from this huge Buddha, the temple features four tall, richly-decorated chedis and countless smaller chedis and statues.

Many of the statues came from China as ballast from trading ships. This huge fellow with a top hat is supposed to depict Marco Polo.

Terminal 21 Mall

After a full day visiting various temples we decided we had seen enough, so we decided to go explore something else that Bangkok is famous for – shopping malls.

Perhaps because Bangkok is one of the hottest cities on the planet, there is a large concentration of mega malls where locals and tourists alike go to cool off, eat, and shop. One of the newest malls in town is “Terminal 21”, which is designed to look like an airport.

Each floor depicts a different country or region of the world; one level has a huge model of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Another floor took us to Japan.

And another brought us to the streets of London! We had a great time spotting landmarks from places we have visited.

Children’s Discovery Museum

While searching for family-friendly things to do in Bangkok, we came across the “Children’s Discovery Museum” and decided to give it a shot.

After we arrived the kids were invited to take part in an art project, modeling with clay.

Another part of the museum gave us the chance design our own city using building blocks.

This wasn’t the best children’s museum that we’ve been to, but it was a good place to spend a couple of hours. And, it was free!

Museum of Siam

Later we visited the Museum of Siam, where the motto is “Play + Learn.”

Some of the museum displays touched on the history of Thailand and the Thai Royal Family, but the bulk of the exhibits were dedicated to explaining what it means to be Thai.

In one room there was an interactive display where we learned about the history and preparation of traditional Thai dishes.

In another room we learned about Thai superstitions. By attempting to lift a heavy elephant with a pinky finger we were supposed to find out if a wish would come true.

One room had a wall full of boxes, each containing a traditional game. A friendly museum worker showed us how the games worked and the kids had a blast trying them out.

Khao San Road

Our last stop in Bangkok was Khao San Road, a backpacker haven featuring a lively night market.

To get there we took a tuktuk. This form of transportation always carries the risk of being ripped off or diverted to some shady gem shop. Fortunately we didn’t have any problems on this occassion.

Since Kao San can get a bit rowdy at night, we hit the market early. The kids were happy to try some fresh coconut ice cream while we shopped for t-shirts.

Aside from t-shirts, the market had a wide selection of crafts, knickknacks, and Buddha images, which apparently remain popular despite a major PR campaign discouraging people from using Buddha images as home decor.

While we enjoyed our stay in Bangkok, we were ready to move on after a few days. For such a large city there are relatively few family-friendly activites on offer, and the crowds and traffic made us want to escape to somewhere where we could find a bit more solitude. We hoped our next stop, Sukhothai, would be able to deliver that.