For as long as I can remember I’ve had the desire to roam the earth and explore exotic places. I’ve always felt a longing to connect with and experience other cultures.
While in Thailand for a wedding on the island of Phuket, I had the opportunity to extended my stay and visit Bangkok for a few days before returning home to the United States. One of the best places I have ever been is The Grand Palace Bangkok. Located in the ‘old city’ of Rattanakosin, an area which has the highest density of sacred must-see sights and exquisite temples; the palace is truly a feast for the eyes and a standout amongst the others.
The yin/yang of peace and chaos is a large part of life in Bangkok and one which this New Yorker really was thrown by
Some history: The Grand Palace complex dates back to 1782 and houses the royal residence and throne halls, as well as the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha (which is actually made of jade). Not a typical single structure, the Grand Palace is made up of numerous buildings, halls & pavilions set around open lawns, gardens and courtyards. The complex is enormous, so take plenty of time to walk around and enjoy this stunning, gilded fairytale of a place.
Most buildings in the Outer Court are designed in the typical Thai-style with pointed, sculptural roofs either covered in gold or painted in rich jewel tones of green, red and blue. The remainder of each building is then covered inch by inch with intricate gild wood carvings, three dimensional sculptures of mystical figures, and as if that weren’t enough; a mix of floral and geometric patterns, each formed by an array of sparking mosaic tiles bursting in a myriad of colors.
There is so much to take in – I was thoroughly in awe of its beautiful architecture and intricate detail, everywhere you look something is gleaming or glistening with explosions of bright hues and textures.
A sensory overload not to miss – on a sunny day, it’s truly spectacular!
To get there I suggest taking one of the express river boats along the Chao Pyraya River and disembarking at Tha Chang Pier. While on board, enjoy the experience of a centralized view of each riverbank, and be sure to take in the views of the extraordinary architecture along the way (check out Wat Arun). You can also catch a glimpse of daily life from the water. Once you disembark, exit through the bustling Tha Chang Food Market. I’ll admit that I was tempted to spend time here, between the sights and smells I could have stayed for an hour at least. However, The Grand Palace has limited hours and I wanted to see it all at my leisure to make the most of the experience. (Tip: when you cross the street, and walk toward the palace you will most certainly be approached by locals who will tell you that the palace is closed and try to lure you to another “sacred site” via tuc tuc – This is not the case! Ignore them and walk around the gilded gates to the other side where you will find the entrance.)
The yin/yang of peace and chaos is a large part of life in Thailand and one which this New Yorker really was thrown by. I found it to be both exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time. Bangkok can be a crazy, wild city; but for those seeking peace and solitude there are a number of places to find what you are looking for. The Grand Palace was certainly one of those places for me and I highly recommend a visit.
Growing up in the suburbs of Boston, my first experience of cultural diversity came at a young age. Both my mother and my grandmother visited Boston frequently and I was always included in the journey. I remember fighting for bargains at the original Filene’s Basement and visiting Santa’s Workshop at Jordan Marsh – two important and noteworthy institutions which have long since been replaced by newly formed conglomerates. Downtown Crossing at that time was a mix of race, color, and financial means, but one without judgement; people came together with common goals and respect for each other, with no thought of background or ethnicity. I remember these days fondly (although I couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old) and do believe they helped to shape my desire and curiosity to know more about the world at large.
It’s sink or swim so to speak
Travel challenges you, it places you somewhere unfamiliar and forces you to make it familiar. It’s sink or swim so to speak.
Traveling opens your eyes, your mind and your senses. It leaves you wanting to see, do, and experience more. When you are open to new experiences you allow yourself to become inspired.
Don’t wait! Go and see the world!
About the Author
Denise had her first trip abroad during her college years; a summer fashion course in Paris. As a business student with a strong desire to work in the fashion industry, she knew she had to go! She had dreamed of visiting the City of Lights and now had the prospect to spend 6 weeks immersed in the culture and the likelihood of meeting important leaders in the industry. Of course, she jumped at the chance – and it changed her life in so many ways: by opening her eyes to a bigger world with more options and opportunities than she ever imagined.
She’s been back to Paris several times and is always on the hunt to find new neighborhoods and experiences. Currently she is in search of her next discovery.