Things to Do in Bangkok During a Coup
Adventures in Bangkok During the Coup
A couple of months ago my friend and I was talking about going on a trip and a few places came up during our conversation over dinner. Since I just got back from Hawaii only 6 months ago, I knew I wanted to go somewhere else. My friend didn't really care as long as it was someplace foreign and exciting.
So I admit, the decision to go to Bangkok was all mine. After searching for a good price on plane tickets, we went ahead and made our purchase. The very next day, Thailand declared a coup d'etat. The military was taking complete control of the country! What did that mean for us? Was it safe for us to go? It all sounded so deadly serious.
We decided to take a wait-and-see approach and after a week, decided to go ahead with the trip. Besides, we weren't getting back our money for our plane tickets and there was a cancellation charge to boot.
We ended up having a great time even with the nightly curfews and military presence in the city of Bangkok. The city was operating as usual and we toured and ate our way through Bangkok, or as some say, The Big Mango.
*Photos taken by myself except for photos of me, which were taken by my friend ;)
The Coup and Nightly Curfew in Bangkok
To be honest with you, I was quite nervous up until the moment I got through the boarding gates of my Thai Airways flight. But once the plane was airborne, I started to relax.
By the way, the in-flight service on Thai Airways was really nice and my friend and I both enjoyed our meals. In fact, my friend raved that it was the best meal he had on a plane as far as economy class meals are concerned.
We had arrived just before curfew time and after getting to our hotel near midnight, we just had enough time to run to the corner 7-11 to buy some necessities before the curfew went into effect.
Once in the hotel room, I noticed something odd and I wasn't quite sure exactly why.
A Visit to Jim Thompson's House
I had an ambitious itinerary planned out for us, especially since it was the first time for my friend to visit Thailand. I wanted to make sure our trip involved a couple of major sights, visits to some local markets and lots of Thai food.
I should have known that things never go according to plan, but seriously that was all part of the fun. We had arrived during the rainy season and the curfew made it crucial to be back at our hotels by a certain time. Still, we managed to see and do a lot during our trip.
Our first day included a tour of Jim Thompson's House, which is not only a good way to learn about the Thai silk industry and the man himself, but also a great introduction to Thai culture.
The traditional Thai house includes many of the man's treasured art and artifacts and many of the rooms are preserved as it used to be. Not only is he famous for making Thai silk famous around the world, he's also famous for his mysterious disappearance during a trip to Malaysia.
Once we got back to our hotel room, I realized what had been bothering me. It was disturbingly quiet in Bangkok, a city that usually never sleeps. The curfew forced everything to shut down by 11:00 PM, turning the city literally into a ghost town.
Jim Thompson : The Mystery
One fateful day in 1967, Jim Thompson went missing during a trip to Malaysia. Since then, many theories and rumors have been made as to what may have happened. If you love a real-life mystery, you'll most likely enjoy this one.
Images of Jim Thompson's HouseClick thumbnail to view full-size
Mix it Up with Thai Silk Pillow Cases
Throw pillows are an easy way to change up the look of your home. These pillow cases made of Thai silk adds a touch of exotic ambience to any room.
As my home is predominantly in shades of whites and browns, these pillow cases add just the right amount of color to my otherwise calm color tones of my living room.
The bright color and silky sheen on this one will brighten up any room. The gorgeously embroidered lotus leaves motif is modern and adds just enough drama.
Purple and lavender roses made of high-quality Thai silk will enhance any room. My friend loves hers and keeps it on her bed.
A Day in Yaowarat
I'd planned a day to Yaowarat ( Chinatown ) a few days into our holiday for a couple of reasons. First, we needed to recuperate from our flight and a tour of Yaowarat demanded that we were full of energy. Second, according to the weather forecast, it was to be clear and sunny, which makes things a lot easier.
A visit to Yaowarat is a must on any Bangkok visit. The combination of chaos, crazy shopping and some of the best food in Bangkok has got to be experienced but make sure you have lots of energy in your reserves because you'll need every ounce of it here.
Chinatown is a maze of narrow side streets that await the curious and will reward those who brave through the thick crowds with hidden treasures of all kinds. From racks and racks of wholesale shoes to beautiful silk fabrics in a rainbow of colors, that sell for less than half of those at the department stores, literally hundreds of stalls are lined up side by side to entice the never-ending flow of customers.
With seemingly no rules that make sense, motorbikes and trolley carts pass through these streets that are barely wide enough to fit a couple of average-sized human beings. Still people seem to manage and all exist in peaceful harmony. There is amazingly no pushing or shoving here and people try their best to remain patient with each other.
As I make way for a blind person singing along tunes on his portable karaoke box, hoping to earn some cash for a meal, I somehow manage to buy some grilled bananas that are tempting me with their sweet aroma. I use sign language asking for just one but I find out the minimum order is three. I pay for my sweet bag of treats ( 100% natural and healthy too ) and continue walking at a snail's pace, along with the rest of humanity.
Photo Journey Through YaowaratClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Temples of Bangkok
As one looks out at the landscape of Bangkok, one starts to wonder if there is anything beautiful to look at. Fortunately there is more than enough interesting sights to see, such as their amazingly intricate and awe-inspiring collection of temples.
Visiting a proper Thai temple is a definite must for any visitor to Thailand. With over 400 temples dotted around the city, it's impossible to see them all.
To get there, we opted to take the easy and fast way which is by boat along the Chao Phraya River.
Traveling by boat lets you get a glimpse into life along the river and is also a good way to avoid the notorious traffic Bangkok is famous for. Scenes of how life used to be in the olden days can be found on the riverbanks of the Chao Phraya.
Calm, Peace and Harmony
This Thai Buddha statue in a meditating pose, radiates calm, peace and serenity.
This would look beautiful as part of a garden as well as at the entrance of a home. Some people like to keep a Buddha statue in the bedroom for a calming atmosphere.
The Gleaming Temples Near the RiverClick thumbnail to view full-size
Eating Through the Big Mango
Thai food is one of the most exciting cuisines of the world and it is what I look forward to the most whenever I visit this Asian city. True Thai food is complex, exciting and lip-smacking irresistible, most times combining hints of sweet, sour, salty and spicy in one single dish.
Of course not all Thai food is spicy so there's something for everyone. We were also extremely fortunate to have arrived during peak fruit season, when exotic fruits such as mangosteen, longan and mangoes are at their sweetest. My sweet tooth also managed to find some incredible Western-style cakes and discovered one of the best cupcakes I've ever eaten in my life!
Needless to say, I came back home happier and heavier than when I left but it was definitely worth it. My friend on the other hand is naturally thin and seems to "lose" weight simply by the act of living.
Thai Food at Home
A must have cookbook for anyone seriously in Thai cuisine. Go beyond Americanized Pad Thai and delve into a world of deliciousness with Pok Pok's recipes including Som Tam, my favorite Thai dish.
The thing I love about this cookbook are the beautiful photographs that come with each recipe. The recipes are given in both metric and US measurements so it can be recommended for everybody who loves Thai food. Each recipe is also incredibly easy to follow.
Just a Sampling of What We AteClick thumbnail to view full-size
Follow me at TabiEats
In the end, the coup d'etat had no effect whatsoever on our vacation plans. With the exception of the curfew ( which was lifted towards the end of our trip ), the city was operating as usual. Even with the coup, I would visit again in a heartbeat.
If you are a foodie like me, have a passion for traveling or love both like I do, please come and visit me over at my food and travel blog TABIEATS.
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