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Bangkok, the city of angles or ‘Krungthep’,was established in 1782 by King Rama I. The very charm of the city, indeed the whole country, is its antiquity combined with rapid modernisation. Amidst sealed skyscrapers nestle the old pagodas of the many ‘wats’ or temples. Roadside Buddhas ,exist and profilerate, ensuring handy outless for joss-sticks and flower offerings, food and shawls. The more the offerings, the more fervent the prayer of the devotee…
Roadside stalls and shops jostle for space with these Buddhas along with food vendors-on pushcarts, on little stools, on stands, in baskets carried on a pole across the shoulders. Fruit and flower sellers stand at every corner.
Aromatic cooked rice in leaf or plastic packets are sold even in mini supermarkets, with the smell an intergral part of the atmosphere of Thailand. Seafood predominates-with a rich chilli flavour. Indians and vegetarians need not fear for there are plenty of Indian hotels in the city. In fact an Indian would instantly feel at home, wandering around the crowded city-the people are friendly and one even finds roadside cobblers here, unlike the posh Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. And best of all Indians are glorified as tourists here for they do a lot of shopping and the Thai economy practically rests on tourism.
A honeymoon couple would be advised to go on a pre-booked package with a reputed hotel. Bel Aire Princes is a fabulous hotel, expensive and luxurious. It also serves small variety of Indian food in the evenings. The Indra Regent area has many Indian enteries too. The package ensures a visit to the Wat Arun, the Golden Buddha temple, the Reclining Buddha, the Emerald Buddha and the City Palace. Most of these sights will be familiar to the Indian movie goer, for Bangkok has become a popular movie location.
City tours include a visit to the rose garden, the gem cutting centre and a silk factory.
Thailand is famous for its gemstones and silver jewellery, both certain to bring stars to a bride’s eyes. Chinatown is a lovely area to walk through, filled with flowers and produce. Food is a delight here.
Truthfully, the only difference between you and Honeymoon experts is time. If you’ll invest a little more time in reading, you’ll be that much nearer to expert status when it comes to Honeymoon.
Clothes are cheap as labour costs are low. Thai’mumdee’ silk or tye and dyed silk is a specially, a must-buy for most women. As for readymades, Prathunam Market is a near paradise, a whole busy enclave on Ratchprarop Road. Here are located fashion houses like Armani and Versace. But never mind them, right below their regal noses one can purchase fine imitations, complete with logo, in the open sir stall of Prathunam. The garments are churned out in the closed markets behind with sewing machines busy round the clock. ‘How many do you want?’ asks the friendly shopkeeper when I ask the price of a Boss Shirt. he laughs when I ask for just two, more used to Indians buying in bulk.
A walk along Soi 3,4 and 5 leads to Akbar, and Indian restaurant, serving good Mughlai food. Along the Sois are open air stalls selling handicrafts, clothes, cloisonne, wood masks, blue pottery, the unique metal turquoise painted Thai musician fingurines, watches-all fake, toys,VCDs. All remain open till 11p.m.
Patpong and silom-these are the famous night bazaars of Bangkok, where life begins only after 10p.m. Food-one can eat a variety of Thai food on the pavements or go into the Western food joints, pubs and bars here. Massage parlours have women standing outside, enticing unwary tourists. Heading out of the city is an option to go to Pattaya, a 2hour trip to a beach town. Pattaya is a strange place with a sightly seedy promenade where Indians are not advised to venture after dark. The cabaret show and a trip to Coral Island so it is only worth it if you are into snorkeling and water scooters. Perhaps a place best avoided by the romantic couple. For those with a sun and water fixation, islands like Krabi, Kochi Samui, Phuket, etc. are geared to be ideal resorts. Rafting and canoeing, other than just sunbathing, are sufficient thrills here-with the knowledge that Leonardo di Caprio sunbathed here as an added attraction!
A trip to Kanchanaburi, about 128 kms away, is good for nature lovers and would ensure a less crowded and more romantic scenario. The Death Railway and the Bridge on the River Kwai are, of course, not to be missed here. But the best part of a visit to Thailand is a trip to the Floating Market-about 2 hours away in Ratchaburi. Tours start early in the morning, in order to reach there well before the boats come out. One is put in the water in a long launch for a leisurely ride in the canals for about 1 1/2 hours. Old homes jut above the banks, with daily chores and baths conducted in the streams.
And then suddenly, at a turning, one sees scores of long open boats coming at you, each with one person at the helm, mostly women. And the boats are piled high with produce-hot food, fresh vegetables, etc. Breakfast is served like never before! The boat comes along and jars alongside, the old women boats sturdy enough to ram into each other. business is conducted over the water, and selling and buying has never been so charming. After the ride, the banks lined with handicraft shops entice one to buy cheap blue pottery, pewter and clothes. Romantic keepsakes will not make a deephole in the pocket here.
If going about the city on one’s own-the MRT or the lovely little tuktuk (autolike vehicle) driven merrily with scant regard for rules are safe methods of transport and cheap. In the throng of Bangkok’s traffic which turns to five packed lanes on an expressway, the tuktuk is sure to make rapid headway. And for that shopping stroll, the only way to cross the road is to do as the Thais do- hold up you hand to stop the flow and sash across.
With so many spots so soaked in romance,Bangkok is a great honeymoon destination-with a little extra honey making further lovely spots within one’s reach. Best to avoid the place in April though, when the heat touches a sizzling 42, fizzling out romance!