Imagine you’re in Bangkok, one of the world’s largest cities and you want to explore it in one day. That’s sounds like Japanese style sightseeing, something like seeing Russia in a weekend but we are developing a program that is aiming at doing exactly this, not sending you Russia but taking you through Bangkok city in one day or at least a major part of Bangkok’s inner core. Well, this is program is for good reason. We call it “Bangkok Three-sixty Urban Orientation and Exploration“. Actually it is being developed to give first-time-visitors to Bangkok a full-blown Bangkok introduction tour. The focus here are people who are coming to Bangkok to reside, work or study. The tour is basically a huge 360 loop around the inner city using all method of transportation to get familiar with the transportation system and to give you an overview of Bangkok’s important districts and hotspots. Whatever your lifestyle, this introduction day shows you where the things are that are relevant for you.
So a few days back I was out there in the field again and invited students from Ramkamhaeng University to join, also in order to raise money for our upcoming charity event in Pak Kret. I actually thought of newbies to Bangkok like a new batch of international students who’ve just arrived from Germany or another country but instead most of the people in the group were already Bangkok experienced so the focus gradually shifted more into the exploration aspect of the program, hence going in depth into areas of Bangkok and uncovering the hidden jewels of the city, that of course requires more time and thus doing both, taking people through large sections of the inner city via public transportation and exploring large areas on foot within a single day was just too overwhelming, well in fact I was aware of it but wanted to see how my friends felt about it and at the end of the day they felt everything but their feet.
One huge disappointment on the first day was that one of our favorite locations has been blocked, the Ghost Tower by the river, near BTS Saphan Taksin. The 47 storey tall witness of the great economic crisis from 1997. For all Bangkok explorers out there, now the management has placed a “security” guard (a woman sitting by a desk munching Som Tam) on the ground level who will send you right back to the street without speaking a word of English. Even going up to level 9 is no longer possible but can still try to bribe her though she doesnt have the keys for the residential areas.
Then we followed the path of the wolf-pack, exactly the Sirocco or also called Lebuna State Tower or Bangkok State Tower. Well, don’t bother going up during lunch time, unless the restaurant/bar is open there’s nothing to see. The only thing you’ll see is a few meters of window pane and a bit of Bangkok, no walking around allowed. So wait until the sun has set.
The second day we skipped the orientation part and did what everyone was eager to do and that is exploration and so the orientation program has turned into the exploration program and I have to admit it’s difficult to consolidate the two things.
Our second venture was super mellow but intense at the same time, we sat in one of Bangkok’s oldest traditional Chinese houses and talked to Khun Poosak the descendant of a wealthy Chinese family that built their house before even the Grand Palace was built. Sitting with him on the patio, overlooking this great property and talking about life in Bangkok, the community he lives in and the history of this place is simply a great experience for us.
It’s this contact with the locals that grows the passion for exploring this country and sharing insights and knowledge with visitors. Besides we had our fortune told, got spiritual blessings for our hopes and dreams, chilled out in one of the coziest guesthouses you can find in Bangkok, we met Sikhs, received Indian sweets from them and enjoyed the shady trees in the only Islamic graveyard in the old quarters of Bangkok amongst other things.
All in all, both days were awesome and it was a great pleasure taking Katja, Anna, Sunny, Mynt, Nong, Josh, Denis, Nati, Judy and Roland through one of the world’s most exciting city. In the future we will offer two Bangkok Three-sixty programs, one “Light” version and the “Max” version, Light for orientation and covering numerous districts and the Max covering less districts but in depth behind the facades.
We also want to thank for the donation for the Baan Pakret Charity event in the first week of August and we will keep you in the loop on that. I’m planning a charity bike ride there all the way up through Taling Chan to Bang Kruai through Nonthaburi to Pakret and back. I have to see whether I can manage it time wise to set up the route and lead people to Bangkok’s largest orphanage to spend a great day with the kids but in any case you can contact us if you want to make donations.