Arriving in Bangkok is akin to getting a boisterous slap on the back from an old friend. A bit of a shock to the system, but still welcoming & endearing.
Even though we arrive at night, the heat rises up from the pavement and the humidity has my hair in a permanent state of frizz within minutes. I remind Jase how lucky he is to not wear makeup- my mascara and lipstick start to have an uncanny resemblance to Courtney Love's (and not in one of her better stages) as it slowly shifts south on my face.
There is no sugar coating it- Bangkok is a crazy, hectic, fast paced and draining city- but if you cut through the unpleasant aspects (bad traffic // extreme heat // pollution) you find pockets of beauty amid the chaos. But it's not for the faint of heart- I think I have made that crystal clear.
Unfortunately our stay coincides with the first day martial law is imposed- while there are lots of military vehicles and armed police, we actually feel surprisingly comfortable walking around the streets (well as comfortable as one can feel with military vehicles holding machine guns on every block).
Our hotel- ( http://www.outoftheoffice.com.au/oriental-residence-bangkok/) is situated next to a beautiful park and the US embassy. I was pleasantly surprised to see such lush, green gardens surrounding the base of our hotel- you don’t expect to see foliage on that scale in a big city full of high rises.
We really enjoyed our time spent walking the streets full of flower and fruit stalls and sampling some of the local delicacies. Even though there are many tourists and westernized shops in Bangkok, the city is still very rich in culture and tradition. Beautifully made up children learning Thai dance, locals in deep prayer at temples, Buddhist monks walking the streets in colourful robes. It's so nice to see a city still hold their traditions and culture close to their heart and wear it with pride.
The hotels in Bangkok provide amazing value for money (obviously a lot of this has to do with its current political situation, but Bangkok is always known for great hotel deals). The shopping is out of this world- both designer and designer "inspired"- the food is unbelievably tasty and cheap- and it’s a perfect stopover for travellers on their way to Europe. So Bangkok is definitely worth a few nights stay- just leave any hang-ups about unusual smells, crowds or big cities at the door and just go with the flow- albeit congested!
For more information on Bangkok, visit: http://au.tourismthailand.org/Where-to-Go/Bangkok
All photos by Belinda- www.outoftheoffice.com.au