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Entries about muay thai

"Bangkok has them now"

What to say about Bangkok? If Bangkok were a song, it would be Dick Dale's 'Misirlou'. It’s loud, brash, and unashamedly so. The first night we arrived we only had time (and energy) to venture out for food in our hostel’s district of Silom before collapsing into bed, and I have to admit I was outfaced. Bangkok’s nights are dominated by street markets and food stalls, so the city’s 8 million people are compelled to conduct their evenings around the tables and tents and kitchens on wheels that occupy 80% of the pavements. There must be no such thing as ‘quickly popping to the shop’ in Bangkok, as it takes an age to get anywhere through the throngs of people. We retreated to our hostel that night with a slight sense of relief.

However, a new day brought a new perspective. Having slept away all our plane fatigue, we armed ourselves with a map of the city’s transport system and set about getting to grips with the extremely efficient train network; a combination of a skytrain, metro and airport link train allow you to get almost anywhere in the city. After whizzing across to Hua Lumphong Station to book our coach tickets to Chiang Mai, our next stop, we spent the rest of the day exploring Pratunam Market, a typical Bangkok street market selling everything imaginable. We snatched up some vacated seats at a busy street vendor and had two meals and two drinks for the small price of 140baht (just under £3), and I bought some beautifully comfy and ridiculous trousers for our temple trips the following day.

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The next day we set out to tackle the temples in the old city of Bangkok, Ko Ratanakosin. In an attempt to preserve the old city, modern public transport has not been developed there, so the only way to get there is to jump on a boat down the Chao Praya River. It’s a picturesque journey, passing traditional Thai huts nestled amongst glass skyscrapers and the towering Wat Arun on the other side of the river.

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Although the Grand Palace and Wat Pha Kaew are Bangkok's main attractions, the high entry price and stories we had heard of the rampant tourist hordes compelled us to merely take a quick wander around the entrance area before blowing it off in favour of Wat Pho, a smaller but underrated temple a short walk away. Its main boast is the largest reclining Buddha statue in the world; 15m high and 43m long with mother-of-pearl inlaid in the feet.

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Although this building is constantly filled with people, the rest of the temple grounds were quite different. In contrast to most tourist cities, visiting this tourist attraction was actually the most tranquil experience of our Bangkok trip. Once away from the Buddha buzz you find spacious courtyards and quiet worship spaces where you slip your shoes off and quietly explore while monks go about their business around you. The detail of the buildings is amazingly intricate and perfectly preserved; the building was built in the sixteenth century but the colours look as good as new.

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That evening John dragged me to Muay Thai Boxing at Lumpini Stadium, which actually turned out to be quite a fun evening. I had next to no clue what was going on, but we slowly picked up on the basic rules and when in doubt cheered when the locals cheered. The Thai regulars run an unofficial gambling system in the stands, which is almost as interesting to watch as the boxing; all across the crowds people are making hand signals, shouting and passing money around, and somehow everyone seems to get what they're entitled to.

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After spending our last day getting lost in the maze of stalls that is Chatuchak Weekend Market, we made our way to the bus station for our night coach to Chiang Mai, where we are undertaking a volunteering project at the amazing Elephant Nature Park. Til next time...

Posted by kate1401 12:17 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok wat_pho muay_thai Comments (0)

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