My very dear friends have traveled to some wonderful places. One of the most exotic countries they’ve been to is Thailand. The exotic details she shared with me made me curious, so I posted some informational links to share. This intelligent, charming and beautiful couple are some of my favorite people in the world and their fun-loving personalities make them a great resource for travel recommendations. From culture to spas, to nighttime entertainment, this couple’s interview gives some well-rounded advice and perspective.
What was the inspiration for traveling to Bangkok?
My husband is an industrial psychologist and at the time he was training all of the HR (human resources) executives for Adidas Asia. One of the areas was Bangkok and he thought it was a good opportunity to check it out during his work trip. We flew through Osaka, Japan and had a Japanese dinner on the airplane.
What hotel do you recommend?
The hotel we stayed at was the Intercontinental Hotel in Central Bangkok. It had everything on site—the most amazing spa I’ve experienced to this day. There were tropical gardens with wild peacocks everywhere, a pool, huge hotel with restaurants and bands.
What was the vibe of the culture?
The people were very friendly and it was bursting with culture, tradition and color. There were so many people and so much traffic, too. I observed that there’s a lot of pollution and people everywhere and I was surprised that everything was on the river. There were so many people with more traffic than NYC! Lots of people on mopeds, some carrying their children on them as well. I was surprised when we arrived at the hotel that Security was checking all the trunks of cars when we pulled up and looking for bombs. I was intrigued that the main transportation we used while in the city were boats and water taxis. The city is completely dependent on the Chao Phraya River and waterways.
What excursions and museums do you recommend?
The Grand Palace and the Wat Phra Kaew–it is an intricate gold structure built around 1782. The people are very spiritual and Thailand is 94% Buddhist. It’s the spiritual heart of their kingdom. There were a lot of rules, for example, you can’t wear open toed shoes.
I also learned about the Kinnaree which is a golden statue that symbolizes feminine beauty, accomplishment and grace. It’s a mythological figure which is half human/half bird with a long tail. (Half human/half horse figures are depicted in India and half human/half bird figures are depicted in Southeast Asia.) There are ponds everywhere with huge fish which is symbolic of good fortune and wealth. We took water taxis everywhere. I remember the taxi driver would say “feed fish” and and these huge fish would jump up.
My favorite thing was the Jim Thompson house; a brown teakwood house. You take a boat to get there. The interesting thing about it is that he was an American architect who served in WWII and fell in love with the area. He built these homes with his architectural skills. There are six houses in the traditional teakwood and he collected antiques and art. The houses are gorgeous. There’s one with a fish pond and beautiful gardens. He had extravagant dinner parties all the time and it was a big deal if you were invited to them. The doors open up to let in the outdoors and they’ve kept it all original with his things. You feel like you’re outside. He disappeared mysteriously in 1967 in the Malaysian jungle at the height of his success. He dedicated his life to the Thai silk and the revival of that industry. He made it his mission to revive that. He changed that industry because it had kind of died.
Did you eat the street food? I’ve heard it’s a real treat and they fry it for you right there.
You don’t really know what you’re eating. There’s tons of fruits and something called “stinky fruit”. The stinky fruit is the Durian fruit and banned on public transportation due to the strong odor. They look like prickly pears, I was not a fan! There were markets all along the streets and floating markets in the river. We did not eat the street food but we may have tried a little bit here and there. The Singha beer was really good. We mainly ate at restaurants for business dinners and we did a dinner cruise. There are extravagant costumes, dances and tradition. There were beautiful women with beautiful skin,– just a naturally beautiful people with the clearest, glowing skin. It’s really humid there and that might help their skin. Their diet might help, too. At dinner, you get six bowls of food and you don’t know what it is in each bowl–a strange fish or odd fruit. Tons of flavors!
Did you buy any fabulous souvenirs when you were there?
Their Buddha is totally different from the Chinese Buddha. The Chinese Buddha is jolly and fat. The Thai Buddha is stoic and skinny. I brought a Buddha back and I bought some China and silk. My husband had clothes made over there. They measure you and make outfits in one day.
What restaurant do you recommend?
The Sirocco restaurant is the perfect 10 of food, wine, ambience and service. It’s in the state building and it was quite and experience! We dressed up and it was very romantic.You eat outside up high (around 820 ft in the air) and all you see is the city lights- it’s gorgeous. Every night, there is a rainfall called a humidity dump. The skies start to open up and people run outside to bring furniture inside. There’s a jazz band at night and the restaurant provides great service and a lot of pampering. The bright lights of the city at night is a scene which is also memorable.
Is tourism a huge income for them?
Yes, I would say that’s a main one. People come from all over to see Bangkok.
At the outdoor restaurant after dinner, there’s a sky bar which is the highest outdoor bar in the world. The Sky Bar is a round- shaped, lit up bar which looks like a glow stick. It’s on the Hangover 2 movie. We saw a man there who had to be removed by security so he did not fall. He probably had one too many cocktails and was swaying.
There’s a net underneath because some people get vertigo from being up so high. The bright lights of the city from that high up in the open air were gorgeous and an experience I will never forget! The bar is known for their famous cocktails. The Sirocco Restaurant is gorgeous! You see the city in the background. I would definitely go back to Bangkok if I had the opportunity again.
How were you enriched by this trip?
It’s like you can meditate there because it’s so peaceful and serene. The city is all bustling but when you come back to the quiet gardens and fish ponds, it is so peaceful. There’s poverty in the city but they seem happy. The people with their beautiful smiles and peaceful spirits inspired me. The constant hustle and bustle seemed not to affect their demeanor. The exotic gardens and fish ponds built in areas of the city were most likely built as a refuge from the busy city for serenity and meditation. The little kids are jumping in dirty river water and playing in it. You think they would get sick from it. I observed that they don’t need a lot of things to be happy…..like other third world places.