Back in Bangkok

A picture speaks a thousand words, or so they say. Words fail when it comes to truly articulating the cacophony of sights, sounds and smells of Thailand’s vibrant capital… which is precisely why I’m not really going to bother trying.

For this post, it’s the images that are going to do most of the talking. A welcome relief, I’m sure. After all, we’ve already blogged at length about our first visit to Bangkok, and far be it from me to shirk an opportunity to get an easy tick against my name!

Having just returned to mainland South East Asia following a hectic couple of weeks seeing stunning landscapes, little critters and chaotic cities in the Philippines, we felt long overdue a bout of rest and relaxation. So that’s what we did, for about a week. Having seen the main sights last time around (handy, given King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s laying in state caused all manner of chaos in the city), we chose to punctuate our time binge-watching Netflix with a couple of trips out of town.

As an aside – while we were looking for things to do for Bangkok Take 2, we came across Safari World, a so called ‘open zoo’ located in the North of the city. Day trips are promoted by numerous tour companies, but just a little research uncovers barbaric practices, including an ‘Oragutan Boxing’ show, which sadly is exactly what it says on the tin. Do us, and the animals a favour. Sign this petition to help end this ridiculous spectacle.

The Erawan Museum

How to describe The Erawan Museum… An oddity, that’s for certain. Housed within a giant 250 ton three-headed elephant, the ornate interior features references to four major religions, but is primarily modeled after the Hindu representation of the universe. Starting in the underworld, as you wind your way up the mosaic staircases you ascend to heaven, where you’ll find a number of antique Budda statues from various periods. It really just has to be seen to be believed.

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The Elephant really is giant. I couldn’t event get far back enough to do a ‘Mel for Scale’ shot.
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Inside the incredibly ornate second level, representing earth. At its centre sits the Chinese Goddess Guanyin, whilst the different coloured staircases offer alternate paths to the domed ceiling, adorned with a huge stained glass world map.
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The beautifully decorated underside of the staircase.
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Who’d have thought it, we made it to heaven! No Elephant innards to be seen, instead the walls are decorated with depictions of the cosmos.

At 400 THB per person, while Erawan was undeniably interesting the cost was a little difficult to stomach. You only need an hour or so to look around and listen to the included audio guide, so I’d recommend arriving after 5pm when the fee drops to 200 THB.

Cooking with Poo and Friends

Being simple-minded Westerners, and doubtless the first of our kind, we were of course initially attracted to Cooking with Poo and Friends thanks to the Thai name Poo being a ‘hilarious’ homonym for the English kiddie-slang word for excrement. “Cooking with poo?!” Melanie exclaimed. Narf narf narf! However, once we got over this initial bout of childishness, we were in for a very tasty surprise.

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First things first, we joined a couple of Poo’s friends to tour the biggest fresh market in Bangkok, Klong Toey, where we would pick up a few additional ingredients for the morning’s cooking.
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As well as fresh meat from various stages of the supply chain, there was also a colourful array of spices and all manner of fruit and veg.
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We then journeyed onwards to Poo’s cooking school, her third to be located on her home street in the Klong Toey slum.
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Getting our chef on, preparing our menu of Tom Yum Gai, Larb Bet and Gai Ga Teum.
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The finished product. I’ve decided I like Thai salads – they’re pretty much all meat! This dish is Larb Bet, consisting of minced duck with lemongrass.
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What really struck us was how easy the dishes were to prepare, yet full of flavour. This was a very tasty Stir Fried Chicken with Garlic.

Not only did we come away from Cooking with Poo and Friends with full bellies, we also took with us a newfound respect for simple local cuisine and the recipes so that we can easily (ha!) replicate our culinary triumphs at home. The handful of A5 pages came inside a great little cloth pouch, produced by one of the numerous local small businesses that Poo has provided support to set up after the success of her cookery class. Just another reason to get booked in with Poo next time you’re in Bangkok.

Ancient Siam

Hey you, lazy traveller! Want to visit a bunch of Thailand’s most beautiful temples, pagodas and heritage sites, but don’t want to go traipsing around the country to do it? Have we got the attraction for you!

On the outskirts of Bangkok lies Ancient Siam (aka Ancient City, Muangboran or The Green City), a vast parkland dotted with truly stunning scale and full-size replicas of some of the country’s most famed sights. Whilst we don’t really consider ourselves overly lazy (don’t get me started on the number of hours we’ve spent on busses…), we found ourselves intrigued by the place, and as you can get a half price ticket for 350 THB after 4 pm, we figured we’d give it a shot.

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We saw Bangkok’s Grand Palace the first time we visited, this is her less tourist-swamped twin!
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My map tells me this is Prasat Phra Wihan (Preah Vihear) in Sisaket Province. All I know is those were too many stairs for a toasty afternoon!
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Prasat Sikhoraphum has something of the Angkor Wat about it, and looked great as the light started to fade.
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As well as replicas, Ancient Siam also contains dozens of original designs. This is one of them – Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Performing a Miracle.
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Aside from the reduced ticket price, one of the benefits of arriving late in the day is that the park is blissfully quiet; a world away from the manic Bangkok traffic. The Grand Hall of Wat Maha That was serene, one of my favourites.
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The pretty wooden building of Wat Chong Kham Lampang.
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The Garden of Pha Daeng-Nang Ai with its impressive medusa-like statue.
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I can’t for the life of me remember where this gorgeous Sala was, but the way the late afternoon sun illuminates the red paintwork more than merits its inclusion.
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The Botanical Garden of Thai Literature, one of the largest and most impressive structures in the park. This is just a small photogenic part of it.

Ok, so I know despite the pictures Ancient Siam probably still sounds a bit lame. But pootling around on a (slightly knackered) bike in the relative cool of a summer’s afternoon, with most of the place to yourself and an abundance of sights to explore, there are few nicer ways of whiling away the hours. Trust us, visit for yourself and you’ll understand what we’re on about!

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