on the road: bangkok, thailand

wat pho

upon learning our honeymoon of choice, i had so many people ask, “why thailand?” in my head, i always answered with, “why NOT thailand??”
upon setting a date for our wedding, the next task was booking our photographer and then things quickly transitioned to, “and where are we going to go for our honeymoon??” priorities, people. i had a few requirements: i wanted somewhere with equal parts bucket-list type sites and beach time. also, i should probably embarrassingly say that i also wanted a location that required shots. bc that meant it was really really far away and unlike anywhere i’d ever been.

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wat pho, reclining buddha
my stepdad travels to thailand for a work a lot, so i feel like it’s always a topic in our house. and really, the beaches of phuket are legendary, right? so we got online and started looking. after talking, the idea of checking off another continent was pretty exciting, too. so. thailand it was. we knew we’d be flying into bangkok since it’s the country’s hub so i planned a few days there, which is where i’ll begin our travel diary!
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when planning our trip, i knew we’d love phuket (duh, some of the world’s most beautiful beaches? check), i was told how amazing chiang mai is but bangkok? total mixed reviews. some of the things we were told bangkok was are: dirty, hot, loud, over-populated, seedy and everyone rips you off. i will say with confidence: all of these things are true. but things people often leave off are: it’s beautiful, it’s the biggest city i’ve EVER visited, culture is around every corner, it’s transit system is one of the most sophisticated i’ve ever been on and the people….oh the people. they are THE NICEST (without expecting ANYTHING in return) people i’ve ever had the pleasure of being around.
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this has been the first time i’ve ever traveled somewhere that my premonitions (i really didn’t think i’d like bangkok) were overruled by what i discovered upon arrival. i LOVED bangkok. it should also be noted that i LOVE cities…i’m not sure why i didn’t take this into consideration before. i must admit that i was really nervous before leaving. i’ve never been to asia and while i feel totally comfortable in any european city, asia is a different ballgame. lucky for us, though, english is a pretty universal language and we really didn’t have any problem getting around. the subway system is clearly marked (and CHEAP) and if we did have a question, no one hesitated answering us, with a smile and a bow.
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that brings something up….the famous thai “wai” or bow. i was also nervous about this upon going. i knew it was expected, but there are different levels of wais according to respect and authority. what if i did the wrong one?! never fear, after the first couple it became totally natural. it’s such a small yet significant sign of respect. no person was too busy to take a few seconds to show respect. if that’s not something we all could learn from, i don’t know what is.

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while we were in town, some of our highlights were seeing a muay thai boxing match (it was amazing. if you find yourself in thailand, go. must see.), a few wats (temples…which, since we were in high tourist season, they were SO crowded. major thumbs down. oh well, there’s always a return trip.), and sampling in some great thai shopping (aka, bargaining). i must say, being in some of the world’s most holy temples was really awe-inspiring. more-so than i thought. stepping inside wat pho, seeing the famous reclining buddha and people dropping to their knees to pray before they could even get in the door was breathtaking in the most spiritual way. it was really special to me to take a step back and silently witness that. i will never forget that moment. it’s a pilgrimage for them, not just a statue to see.

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my overall opinions of bangkok:
favorite part of the city: we stayed in the sukhumvit area and really enjoyed it. since we were only there for 3 nights, we didn’t get to explore as much as we usually like to.
least favorite part: massive amounts of asian tourists. woah.
would i return: absolutely. in a heartbeat.
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resources:
hotel: jw marriott bangok (5 stars, all the way. i can’t say enough great things about this hotel and their staff. try to get access to the club level for complimentary drinks, breakfast and snacks) // shopping: MBK center (holy 6 floors of shopping stalls, batman. everything from “beats by drey” to camera equipment. don’t forget to bargain! everything is negotiable.) // dinner cruise: loy nava (3 out of 5 stars…food was ok, views were great. probably wouldn’t do it again since we were there such a short time)
see more travel related posts here!
and see all of my bangkok photos here
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gear used: canon 5d mark ii with a canon 50 1.2L lens and a canon s100 point and shoot.

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