bangkok part 1: legends of the hidden temple(s)

i'd be lying if I said that I didn't hum 'one night in bangkok' to myself a few times when landing in this beautiful country. to be honest, I really didn't know what to expect and what we would run into in the second country of our asian excursion. but as always, adventure ensued and we quickly started to see what makes thailand so special.


we knew our hotel was located on the water, but had no idea we'd have these crazy views from our room. the chao phraya river runs through the heart of bangkok and is the lifeblood of the city. from cargo barges to long tails (the colorful boats tourists and locals alike ride), there is always some kind of traffic and action to watch on the water. our hotel (the incredibly nice and affordable millenium hilton bangkok) even had a free water shuttle of which we took full advantage. car traffic in bangkok is some of the worst in the world so we were pretty happy there was an alternative way to travel. plus, it's way more fun anyway :)

a few weeks before we left on our trip, the revered 88-year-old king bhumibol adulyadej died after reigning for seventy years. SEVENTY. we were told that a lot of businesses would be closed and events cancelled in light of a mourning period, but to be there in the midst of it all was moving and inspiring. it's an absolute understatement to say that he was beloved by the thai people and somber, yet beautiful memorials honoring his legacy were found on almost every building, street corner, billboard, you name it. pretty incredible stuff.

for the most part, the thai people practice buddhism and signs and homages to buddha are about as frequent as street signs. there are countless temples large and small to see and tour in bangkok and two of the biggest, wat arun (sadly undergoing renovations) and wat pho are the ones we saw over and over in itinerary recommendations. 

it's hard to describe how ornate the temples in the wat pho complex are. many of the buildings are considered sacred spaces and require visitors to remove their shoes and make sure shoulders are covered out of respect. this place was absolutely gorgeous and 100% worth a visit.

one of the most recognizable and largest statues of buddha in thailand is the reclining buddha in one of the buildings in the complex. the reclining aspect of him signifies buddha entering nirvana and ending all reincarnations. this temple was built in 1832, is about 150 feet long and just completely takes up the entire room. the pictures honestly don't do it justice.

it's pretty amazing seeing a city so rooted in tradition, both politically and religiously, try to find its place in this day and age. you'll want to keep your eyes out for bangkok part two, where we talk about food, drinks and why wandering the streets is truly the best way to see any city. 

until next time!