Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thailand's Amazing Smiles

Sawasdee kap! A warm welcome from the land of smiles and one of the most exciting destination in Asia – Thailand. The country can really claim the right to its tourism tagline as “land of smiles” and “amazing” as most Thai people you’ll meet are often smiling and seldom does not in addition to its amazing, beautiful and unique places, natural wonders and culture for every visitors to enjoy.  These unique charms of Thailand makes it one of the  most famous destinations in Asia. That’s why it is no wonder that this kingdom fascinated Hollywood to do movies about it or associated with it like Anna and the King (1999) and The Beach (2000) and stage world events like 2007 SEA Games and Miss Universe in 1992 and 2005. I myself is amazed to Thailand as my latest trip this year.

Sawasdee kap! Welcome to Thailand.
The trip happened last October 25-28 and guess what is my first experience in its capital, Bangkok? Getting lost in the alleys and streets like that of an Amazing Race episode! My trip to Bangkok was threaten to be spoiled also because during the time of my visit there’s a flood threat crisis to flow in the inner parts of the city. The flood flow comes from the northern provinces near the north part of Bangkok. Though, there is flood already in the north area of the city, I’m still happy that it did not spoiled my trip in exploring the country. While some sights in the city that I intent to visit can’t be visited due to the flood especially near the Chao Phraya River, I was still able to see the must-see and must-do in Bangkok. I mainly visited Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. But I also visited the province of Ratchaburi and Nakhon Pathom to see some important sites as well. I am very happy that I enjoyed this latest trip of mine to the fullest.

My first impression about Thailand is that it has many similarities to ours. But I am glads to learn that the Thai people are very much impressed to our good command in English according to our Thai tour guide. Well, I adore their friendly and warm attitude and resiliency in times of adversity like the flood crisis they are facing now. I also notice that most streets in Bangkok are clean and well-maintained.  Traffic jams exists especially at rush hours but air is less polluted. The Thai people are always smiling and very polite.  They highly revered their king as seen in every public building adorning his portrait. Just within the city there are already many historical sights, places, shopping plazas and activities to try that makes it popular to tourists. A traveler here can experience the best of Thailand by just visiting within the city.

The grand palaces of Grand Palace.
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep, meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. The 167 letters make Bangkok's name the longest city name in the world. It has more than 400 richly decorated temples, some of the biggest shopping centers in Asia, and six universities. Its numerous canals, some of which are home to floating markets, give Bangkok the name "Venice of the East."

A warm welcome from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam is located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Burma. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast and Indonesia and India in the Andaman Sea to the southwest. With great food, a tropical climate, fascinating culture and great beaches, Thailand is a magnet for travellers the world over.

Here’s the preview of my Thailand trip stories that you’ll expect in my upcoming posts: (Links will be available soon)

The best way to explore the city of Bangkok is via its popular mode of transportation – Tuktuk. It is an auto-rickshaw readily available within the main and alley streets of Bangkok for tourist to try in seeing the best sights of the city.  Our tuktuk driver and tourist guide, Dalin was a gentle Tuktuk driver and had us literally exploring Bangkok. Since it is a small vehicle that it can pass easily the traffic jams of the city, via Tuktuk the must-see places are easily reached like Wat Benchamabophit, Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Chao Phraya River boat stations, Suan Pakkad Palace and Royal Barges Museum. Tuktuk is a great way to explore the city because you also get to see the every city life scenes of Bangkok in every corner.

Exploring Bangkok on a Tuktuk
When I visited the grand temples and palaces in Bangkok, they have one color adorned in every structures – Gold. The Marble Temple or Wat Benchamabophit’s ornate roofs and windows will amaze you with its detailed and intricate designs but the gold embellishment will always caught your attention. Moving to Grand Palace, the gold intensity rises with all its gold sparkling temples and palaces in the complex.  Every structure seems to be carved out of gold with its bejeweled Thai architecture. The Grand Palace is not only a historical place for Thai architecture appreciation but also a hotspot treasure off Thai’s religious background. Nearby is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha or Wat Pho where the first sight of the image of the reclining Buddha is an ultimate burst of gold. The reclining image image if not made of gold, is painted wholly with gold making it an ultimate gold experience in Thailand. James Bond’s nemesis Auric Goldfinger would love Thailand because he loves only gold.

Everything is gold in Bangkok!
A Bowl of Thailand
Discovering Thailand is not complete without taking a food trip! Thai cuisine are often dubbed as one of the best food in Asia for its interesting taste and spice mixes. And I myself would not let to pass the opportunity to experience a plate of Thailand. I’m intrigued to taste its famous dish, Phad Thai – a mix dish of bean sprout, tofu, shrimp, spices and eggs. Too bad, I did not had a plate of this dish during this trip. But there’s still some worthy Thai dish I’m glad to taste. Warning, if you’re not a fan of spicy foods then Thai cuisine is not for you as most of their cuisines are spicy, often mixed with chilies suited for a spicy-hungry tongue. But do not fret, Thai cuisines also has non-spicy servings that can easily be found as street foods like Khao Phat (Thai fried rice with mixed meat and veggies) and Kannom Krok (sweet breakfast dessert made from coconut milk). Thai cuisine is sure to satisfy one’s hunger for a food trip. It tastes delicious, promise!

The scenic Chao Phraya River.
Life in Bangkok has always center around the river, particularly on the famed Chao Phraya River on whose banks most of the city’s attraction are also to be found. Viewing the sights from the river barges’perspective is the perfect way to sightsee Bangkok in a nutshell. Nothing can compare to the experience of fresh air breezing on your skin while enjoying the unique oriental sights of Bangkok via a river cruise. A Chao Phraya River cruise gives visitors an easy access to its major attractions like  Temple of the Dawn or Wat Arun, Royal Barges Museum, Wat Pho and Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Crossing Chao Phraya River will be the same experience once you try to cruise on it to explore Bangkok.

The Charming Canals of Ratchaburi.
How would you feel when you had a chance to be in one of the set location of a James Bond movie? Total bliss, right? I had a unique experience when I cruised on the charming canals and floating market in Ratchaburi. I get to see how life moves living in the canals of the province. I also learned the different livelihood that the Thai people does in the province. The floating market was a charming experience about learning the everyday life in Ratchaburi. All of the bargains sold in the floating market are also tempting to buy. From souvenirs, Thai fruits, local cuisine, silk linens, wooden masks, accessories up to spices, everything is sold under the sun in the floating market! Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and its canals is one of the set locations of 1974 James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun.

The Royal Orchids of Thailand
Thailand has always been known for its stunning orchids. So I was surprised to learn that the orchids is not its national flower but the Golden Shower Tree flower. Orchids from Thailand are one of the best if not the best variety for export and garden breeding. It is no wonder that many horticulturists are fascinated with this flower. This also has made Thai orchids an unofficial national flower of Thailand. It still continuous to become a symbol of the country for its enigmatic royal beauty.

Siam Elephant Encounters made me Smile.
An encounter with the elephants is one of the unique experiences I had in Thailand. Traveling for two hours to Sampran, province of Nakhon Pathom is the only way to get up close and personal with these gentle giant mammals. The Siam elephants are the revered national animals of Thailand and considered to be an animal of the royalties. The elephants made me smile in a show I’ve watched that presents their intelligence and display of learned tricks but at the same time I learned their importance in Thai history. They are smart! And very docile! I also tried to hug and feed them. Elephant encounters up close has never been much enjoyable as this experience!

Pratunam’s irresistible bargains.
Thailand is one of Asia’s shopping capital. Shopping can mean from the highest luxury goods and fashion boutiques down to the lowest wholesale market trooped everyday by the locals and tourists as well.  Bangkok is widely known for its day and night market’s irresistible bargains. Whether inside a building or streetside stalls, bargains of shops from shoes, clothes, accessories to underwears are endless! Be ready to cash out all your money as credit cards are not widely accepted in stall markets. Plus hold your impulsive buying attitude in you as this endless paradise of shopping bargains are all in Pratunam, one of Bangkok’s shopping mecca.

How about a view of the City of Angels (as what Bangkok is known for) from the sky? I experienced seeing the city of Bangkok from every angle as I got a 360 degree view of the city when I visited Baiyoke Sky Hotel observation deck. Who wouldn’t have a great view of Bangkok from the sky when you are at the city’s tallest building. The lights of the city is best appreciated at night when every part of Bangkok is sparkling like a nebula of stars. Viewing the splendid glitter of lights and skyscrapers while enjoying a piña colada on a rooftop bar is quite the most relaxing experience I had in Bangkok.

Suvarnabhumi Airport: Thailand’s mega structure.
An airport review of one of the biggest airport I have been in my whole travel life, Suvarnabhumi Airport is also Thailand’s megastructure. Imagine, three buildings of SM Mall of Asia together just composed the main building of the airport. Satellite airside gates are not yet included. Be sure to pronounce the nameof the airport correctly. It spells Suvarnabhumi but pronounced as Su-wa-na-poom. I tried to stroll the whole airport just to savor how mega structure it is. I had a good sense of wonderment at first but it only gave me a tiring last hour stay in Bangkok’s main air gateway.

Thailand made me smile. The people, the cultures, the sights, the cuisines, the places.. there are so many things about this wonderful country that made me smile. It has a unique charm of an orient country. It is fascinating that everyone would love anything about it. I’m lucky to experience its warm welcome of “Sawasdee kap” that let’s me response “Ka pun kap” (Thank you) for the wonderful experiences I had there. For me, its not just amazing as what its tourism tagline prides of. Thailand “always” amazes that’s why it makes everyone smile.


  1. Aside from being the "land of smiles" I also like their tagline "Amazing Thailand".. So simple yet so effective.. By the way, I added you on my link page.. :) Thanks Ian! Happy travels!

  2. @Bino: And most Thai are living into it... smiling all the time. Linked you back as well. 'Hope you visit my travel blog often. Have a nice day!

  3. you're lucky hindi pa ganun kabaha that time nung pumunta kayo. ngayon even the grand palace is flooded. =(

    oh well, if there's a country that I'll love to revisit, it's thailand. ansasarap ng pagkain!

  4. Sarap sumakay sa tuk-tuk kasi pwedeng sumuot kahit sa maliit na daan, medyo mahal nga lang kaya isang beses lang kami sumakay dito galing Grand Palace papunta sa Reclining Buddha :)

  5. @Chyng: I agree ang sarap ng food lalo na yung tom yum seafood hindi ko makalimutan yung sweet and spicy taste... hindi ko nga lang natikman yung sikat nilang dish na Phad Thai.

    Currently central Bangkok remains unaffected by the flood along with its attractions.

    @Claire: We got 50THB for a transpo trip on 3 main attractions back and forth from Rachathewi district.

  6. nice to see another travel update from Thailand...i wish to visit the land of smile in the future..pag me pera!

    thanks as always..ingat sa biyahe.

    Europe Travel Pad
    Countryside Trip

  7. aww nainggit ako sa Thaniland trip mo.. yan kasi ang isa sa mga dream countries ko na puntahan and hopefully by next year makapunta din ako dyan.. aww ang cute ng elephant talagang niyayakap pa yung trunk nya sayo..

  8. @Redruby: I would like to visit Europe in the future pag me pera na... lol! Thanks!

    @Joan: Hopefully makapunta ka kasi super worthy to discover Thailand and experience Bangkok. Kakaibang Asian destination sya. Hindi lang cute ang tatalino pa ng mga elephant. Tuwang-tuwa ako dyan sa experience na yan kasi ang aamo nila!


All comments and reactions are highly appreciated.

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