I could have spent months in Thailand and not seen it all, but what I did see will stay with me forever. I spent the second half of my trip with my daughter, Alexandra, who always said she never wanted to go to Asia. As it turned out, she was not ready to leave when the time came! Our hotel in Bangkok, The Banyan Tree, was so welcoming, warm, and friendly we were ready to move in. We were given flowers upon arrival, and were treated like royalty. The Banyan Tree is deservedly a 5 Star Resort Hotel with a restaurant called Vertigo on the 60th floor! The views from the open air bar and restaurant are breathtaking! The food was fabulous as well. I cannot recommend the Banyan Tree more highly! If you are going to Bangkok, you should look at staying there.
Thailand is very reasonably priced, even inexpensive in some areas. The dollar is very strong, 1 dollar to 30 Baht. The cab meters start at 35 Baht! Bangkok also has a Sky Train, very inexpensive, and a subway. Of course, make sure the cab driver starts the meter…they will try to get you to pay them 200 or even 400 Baht for a short trip. When this happened, we refused the cab. My cousin, Kathy, has a friend who lives in Bangkok and he advised us to always make sure the meter was on, and that advice probably saved us a lot of money! He took us to a neighborhood Thai food place our first night there, and gave us wonderful advice on getting around. The little restaurant served delicious Thai food. You can eat well in Thailand for very little harm to your pocketbook.
I set up tours prior to the trip so everything would be set, and flow smoothly. The tour company was recommended by our hotel’s concierge: East Meets West Tours. Our tour guide was Paul, originally from Bangkok, and his knowledge of Thailand and Bangkok was immense. We enjoyed our tour with him. East Meets West is a tour company which takes private tours….it was Alexandra and I, with Paul and a driver. No huge buses with a schedule to keep.
Our first day was spent at Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Traimit, the Grand Palace, a boat ride on the canals of Bangkok, and a walk through the flower markets. Our first stop was at Wat Traimit, the Temple of the Golden Buddha. Almost 10 feet tall and 5 and a half tons of solid gold, this Buddha was accidentally discovered when it was being moved from one temple to another. It is believed to be from the Sukhothai period in the 13th-14th centuries, and covered in plaster in the 18th century so it would not be stolen during the 1767 war with the Burmese. In 1955 the statue was being moved to a new home, and it was dropped, causing some of the plaster to chip off. Under the plaster, the solid Gold Buddha was discovered, along with a key to separate it into 9 pieces, making it easier to move. The Golden Buddha is regarded as a miraculous Buddhist icon, and when we visited the wat, both tourists and Buddhists were praying and lighting incense. Outside of the temple is a Buddhist Monk who will bless Buddhist religious icons, and who will bless you as well. Wat Traimit is considered a holy place, and it should be one of the first sites to see in Bangkok!