BKK is the acronym shown on my plane ticket; that same plane that is taking me to Suvarnabhumi airport in Thailand. As we approach the land, I can see the sun that is shyly making its way through the heat that embraces Bangkok during the first hours of the morning. The lights of its skyscrapers try to stand the day’s ground that is taking the city back to its natural state; the city is no longer playing the role of a Western city, and it now shows its chaotic soul. They say that our first impression determines our approach to reality; Bangkok confirms this theory, as it shows an essential peculiarity that characterizes our whole journey across Thailand. The city, indeed, seems to be combining two opposing souls that live in the same time and space, as they animate its streets and social life. During day time Bangkok shows its Asian soul, revealing a landscape made of skyscrapers, shopping centers, a modern surface railway, as well as a culture made of people who know how to survive with little money, modest houses and street restaurants. At night time its authentic magic goes away, leaving space to the lights of skyscrapers – those same lights that could belong to any other modern city around the world, and that are far away from that sense of authenticity that we are seeking on this journey.
As we arrive to Thailand, we decide to visit Bangkok aboard a long tail boat that sails across the waters of the Chao Phraya river. From here we can admire the Wat Arun temple, our first interaction with the Buddhist culture; further up a line of piles shows the poor side of the city, as well as the simple approach to life enjoyed by children who use willows in order to jump into the river.
We can spend only a couple of days in the city, therefore we decide to spend a whole day to visit the main touristic attractions and then to explore markets in order to experience the taste of the real Thailand. As we walk across the city we observe the Wat Traimit, the golden Buddha – a golden stature made of pure gold with a weight of 5.5 tons, and which is estimated to be worth 250 million dollars. This treasure is not surrounded by a special security system; it is protected by the flow of daily life and by the rituals and prayers offered by its pilgrims. The Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace are not very far away. As you walk into this complex of buildings you are enchanted by the diversity of its styles, by the richness of its decorations made of gold as well as by materials and colors that have been carefully selected to increase the splendor of the royal dynasty. You can also observe the beauty of the Emerald Buddha, an authentic jewel located in a finely decorated chapel. A few blocks away you can find the Reclining Buddha which, with its 46 meters in hight, obscures its mystic nature in order to give space to a sense of grandeur.
As we pursue the real authenticity of Thailand, we decide to travel 70 kilometers away from Bangkok in order to explore Samut Songkhram market. We grab a cup of Thai coffee, and then we start exploring all the different stalls selling fruit and vegetables as well as delicious local food. Our eyes are curious and they keep exploring, learning and discovering the taste of this market. However, our eyes are also focused on making sure not to be hit by a train. The market, indeed, is located on train rails; eight times per day, as the train passes by, sellers need to move their stuff in order not to be invested. A surreal yet very authentic contest that shows how hard people have to work in order to stick with their choices. “I would rather move my stuff but I am not leaving this place!” – this could be the of the thought of both the train and the sellers.
As we are making our way back to Bangkok, we decide to sail the canals that make the landscape so peculiar. The boat is part of the adventure. A wooden structure powered by an old car engine, a ship’s wheel and a long transmission mast used to dive the screw into the turbid waters of the canal. Its speed is not proportional to its size and to the size of the canals; we experience real moments of terror mixed to adrenaline. At the end of the journey, though, we are welcomed by the floating market – another opportunity to feed our restless soul agitated by the desire of discovering the world.
We can’t tell for sure how long have we have spent on our boat in order to explore the market and to be enchanted by the ability of offering and creating all the comforts one would have on the land on such small boats. We saw boats selling artisan ice cream, a boat equipped with a grill for fish and meat, as well as a boat selling hats and different textiles. Each boat represents the essence of Thailand and its people.
As we get back to Bangkok, we decide to take a look at the largest weekend market of the city: Chatuchak Market. The market is so big that it is almost intimidating. We are afraid to get lost in this labyrinth of stalls. We happily decide to explore the market as we look for local colorful and unique textiles. We try some local food that has been previously cooked in a huge pot as we take a seat in a street restaurant. We are looking for some relief from the sun, and then we keep exploring the market.
Our journey continues to the North of Thailand; however we must say that Bangkok offers to its visitors unique points of view.
CREDITS: TheOldNow Magazine | Tutti i diritti sono riservati.