Thailand 2017 – Wat Phra Kaew and Bo.lan
We began our tour of Bangkok by visiting Wat Phra Kaew (also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace. Grouped together into one compound, these two sites are the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
We decided to hail a tuk-tuk to get us to the temple, which I wasn’t exactly sure how to do but turned out to be easier than I thought. To be honest, I was still a little freaked out by just trying to cross the street given the insane traffic going every which way in seemingly every lane. Daniel was unperturbed and I followed his lead across the busy intersection near our hotel. It only took a couple of minutes to hail a tuk-tuk, which was going in the opposite direction and executed an impressive u-turn in the middle of traffic to pick us up.
I’ve got to tell you, there’s nothing quite like riding on a tuk-tuk. We careened in and out of traffic around cars and scooters, with other vehicles sometimes only inches away. The wind in our faces felt fabulous as the day was already uncomfortably warm and muggy by mid-morning. One minute we’d be stuck in a traffic jam and the next we’d be roaring down the street at top speed. It was like being on a ride at an amusement park.
Wat Phra Kaew houses Thailand’s holiest image, the Emerald Buddha, in a spectacular complex of gilded buildings.
We removed our shoes and donned long-sleeved shirts upon entering the shrine of the Emerald Buddha. We were not able to take any pictures once inside but the Buddha is actually quite small (only 66 cm) and sits atop an impressive gilded throne.
After visiting the Emerald Buddha, we were feeling overheated and overwhelmed from the crowds. We exited the compound and took refuge from the heat in an air-conditioned restaurant near the river. It was a little touristy but served great Thai food. The papaya salad and tom yum soup were superb.
We spontaneously decided to book a reservation at Bo.lan, one of the highest rated restaurants in Bangkok. The restaurant was located on the other end of town and, according to Google Maps, it would take 45 minutes to get there. Bangkok traffic is notoriously terrible so we we added a half hour buffer to our travel time.
We had no idea what we were getting ourselves in for. It turns out that traveling across Bangkok during rush hour is a REALLY bad idea. We ended up arriving over 40 minutes late to our dinner. Yikes! Thankfully, the staff graciously seated us anyway.
Bo.lan is a peaceful retreat from the city, nestled in a quiet garden away from the bustle of the street. We got a peek inside the kitchen as the chef invited each guest back to the kitchen for the first bite. It took several hours to work our way through the degustation menu. The food was excellent and beautifully presented, but to be honest it didn’t blow me away. I thought the food we had eaten for lunch was just as delicious and at only a fraction of the price.
By the end of the meal, jet lag was catching up with me. I could barely keep my eyes open over dessert. Thankfully the ride home was a much quicker affair and we were soon back at the Lamphu Hotel.