Bangkok and Beyond

Walking down the streets of Pattaya, Bangkok, it is easy to get baffled about how all of one’s sensory nerves get hit at the same time. The air is heavily laden with the strong aroma of the street-side food. The honking of the ongoing traffic is a sheer pleasure for those who love to be a part of the crowd. The cheerful jostling of the people consisting of a mixture of both the tourists and locals adds to the rising crescendo. The palettes of varied range of colours, whether from the handmade Chinese lanterns or from the glittering kimono-clad masseur offering Thai massage dazzles one’s eye. Every shops and stores twinkles with fairy lights.

The time of the year that I had visited Bangkok, was just before Christmas. It was my honeymoon and also my first international trip. No wonder I was super excited and that had probably added an extra zing to the air.

Catching an early morning flight from Kolkata, India we flew to our destination, Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok. It was nearly afternoon by the time we landed. The first thing that was noticeable was the tropical climate in middle of December. I watched mesmerized as we drove to our first stop to Pattaya. It took us just about two hours to reach our hotel, Bella Express, Chonburi.

Immediately after checking in we headed for the beach, a place also known as the Walking Street.. Although the sun had long set for the day, the city had come alive in its very own lights as we walked hand in hand on the beach. The changing halogen light reading “Patttaya” with the black sea to eternity on one side and the sparkling city on the other, made me realise that I was in the making of a memory for lifetime.

Lining up the busy street of Pattaya were hotels, shops, massage parlours and bars. Being the peak tourist season, the street was thronged with people of different nationalities. It is a guaranteed place of ‘No Bore’ for all ages. It is truly a paradise for street-food lovers and shopaholics.

Next day morning we headed for some ‘fun in the sun’. We took a speedboat to Coral Island where the sky meets the horizon in shades of blues. Pattaya has been one of top-listed destination of all sea-lovers and offers multiple water sports ranging from water-ski to deep sea diving. There is no dearth of activities here. And if one is not into the magnetism of the hydro sports, can easily find a sunbathing chair and relax simply to soak in the sun and enjoy a drink or two.

In the evening we went for the world famous Alcazar show. The flamboyant transvestite cabaret dancers transported us to a dream land and it was definitely a show to remember. The enchanting music echoed across the hall to touch a string in the core of my being I never knew existed.

For centuries man has travelled in quest for knowledge. However, there are many unimaginable and unsolved mysteries out there in the world that defies mankind. For many years I had been taken by the world of “Believe It or Not” of Robert Ripley. It was here in Pattaya that I had a chance to experience one of his legendary museums. And indeed “you got to see it to believe it.” The museum housed rare artefacts from all over the world. What was most attractive was the fact that it was a one man’s collection. My visit to the museum made me bow to the man’s spirit of undying pursuit.

Our days in Pattaya soon came to an end but our memorable journey was to be continued for few more days. From Pattaya we headed for capital of Thailand, Bangkok. The ever throbbing heart of the country offers ornate shrines and vibrant street life that is definitely addictive. Our hotel, Woraburi Sukhumvit nestled in the corner of Soi 4 offered a comfortable abode to us.

Despite being an ultra modern city that has marked its existence on the global map of trade and business the true soul of the city lies in the Chao Phraya River that formed the very pulsating vein for the city long back ago. The presence of Buddhist stupas and pagodas across the city, are evidences it that belonged to an ancient world.

Our journey took us on a ferry ride to the famed Wat Arun and Wat Pho. The word ‘Wat’ denotes a temple. Wat Arun from Thonburi west bank of the river is a temple dedicated to God Aruna or the rising sun. It is easily one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok with intricate porcelain work. Wat Pho on the other hand is a sacred destination from people all over the world. It is renowned for its gigantic 46 m reclining gilded Buddha figure and over thousand Buddha images, is undoubtedly one of the sprawling temples of the East. Beautiful gardens surrounding the temple offered shades to the exhausted travellers. The serenity of both the temples struck a chord in the depth of my heart.

One of the must visit of Bangkok is the Grand Palace. Post of temple visit we headed for the centre where still today kings and queens are for real. Established in 1782, the palace houses the royal families till date. Based on the concepts of Hinduism and Buddhism, the current royal family of the Chakri dynasty are in existence. The complex not only consists of the royal residence but also of number of government offices and the well-known Temple of Emerald Buddha. The grandeur of the palace can easily transport one to a fairy land.

On our last night in Bangkok, we took to the streets of the city to drink in the festive fervour that had already started to build up. It was already Christmas eve and everything I saw, heard or smelt had come alive with a life of its own. Our journey came to an end filled with loads of love, laughter and memories.

Bangkok proved to be a city well balance between modernity and archaic spirit. The perfect blend of the old and new has given birth to the must visit place to all travellers. For every visitor the city has something to offer, to me it found my love for travel and writing.

 

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