Bangkok, Asia’s number one tourist attraction has much more than what meet the eye of an average tourist. For example, when you visit the temples in Bangkok, figure out which Baht coin represents which temple. That’s right, every Baht coin design is a temple – and all of them are in the country’s capital. Read on to get lesser surprises when you visit Bangkok.
GUINNESS RECORD FOR THE LONGEST CITY NAME
Here’s a dare – no, a double dare – read the actual name of Bangkok out loud.
Ready? Here goes:
‘Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit’.
You didn’t read it, did you? Anyway, it is listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the world’s longest name for a place. It’s a mixture of Sanskrit and Pali and its meaning is equally long:
‘The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukam’.
As it is implausible to use this name, Thais will be heard using either Thep Maha Nakhon or Krung Thep, known to Anglophones as the City of Angels.
SINKING VENICE OF THE EAST
Bangkok is also fondly referred to as Venice of the East as it originally had as many canals as Venice and its buildings stood on stilts. Although most of the canals are now filled and paved over, the spirit still exists among fellows Thais. Another similarity Bangkok shares with the European city Venice is that it is sinking too! Due to heavy urban development, Bangkok is sinking at a rate of 2-5 cm per year. Mixed with rising sea levels, its fate is looking just like Venice… you’d better go visit Bangkok soon!
As we all know very well, Thailand, being a very liberal place in terms of sexuality and tolerance towards gender identity is considered a safe place for LGBT’s. Bangkok in particular, will have many ladyboys highly visible in mainstream society. So, Thailand – one of the first countries in the world – introduced a third option for answering nature’s call. At many places here, don’t be surprised to find 3 bathroom doors – male, female and transgender.
Hailing a cab will never be more interesting and you can even make a game of it: Which colour taxi will you sit in? Bangkok does not have a uniform colour of cabs. Depending on which company a cab belongs to, you will find them of happy candy colours like pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, etc.
EVERYTHING ON THE ROAD
One of the world’s top 10 coolest markets is found in Bangkok – The Chatuchak Weekend Market (also called as JJ Market as the ‘ch’ sound in Thai is pronounced as ‘juh’). Its 35 acres of exotics art and antiques, rarities, live animals, flowers and anything you can think of can be a bit overwhelming for the newbie. Thank God it is divided into thematic sections and you can create a game plan and see what it pleases you. Another great market to explore is the Talad Rod Fai for all the vintage lovin’ folks. Here, you will find people dressed retro style and often like the 50s and 60s role models such as Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. Have a cocktail and listen to the good ol’ classics while eyeing the vintage Beetles and old Chevrolet convertibles creep past. There is also the floating market where everything is sold from boats!
Bangkok is where its at; where modern cityscapes has flashes of the traditional Thai culture. What tidbit about Bangkok has urged you to start planning your next trip there?
“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” – Danny Kaye