The pace of daily life in Bangkok could not be more different than the pace to which I have become accustomed. Chicago and New York City are busy, sure. However, they do not begin to compare with the body-to-body, no personal space experience that is certain areas of Bangkok. It is fairly simple to navigate, as long as you know how to push your way through masses of people without tripping over the goods being sold by vendors on the sidewalks. Do you need to get to the Skytrain quickly? Too bad. You should have allowed more time. These are the lessons that Bangkok is waiting to teach you.
Once this is taken into account, there are striking sights to be seen, for instance, the Grand Palace. It is the pride and joy of the Thai people, and if the sun is shining, prepare to be blinded by the pure reflective nature of the buildings. There is so much gold, so much sparkle, so...much. It's hard to know where to look.
I believe I went about visiting the Grand Palace in the wrong way. The goal is to walk in through the front gate and see the sights from the inside of the protective walls. Instead, I walked around the entire complex looking for the entrance, straining to see spires or roofs from the street. I finally discovered the entrance, which I would have found much sooner had I simply walked to the left to start out with instead of the right. I discovered through this little side adventure that the Grand Palace complex is very large.
Once inside, I wandered aimlessly and in my heat daze, may not have used all of the tickets I paid for. They were written in Thai, and honestly, my main goal was to find water, not decorative masks. I assume this is how they make money.
My next destination was the Chatuchak market. If there was ever a place to make you want what you never knew existed, this is it. No one seems to know exactly how many stalls there are. Some claim 5,000. Some claim 8,000. Some even claim over 15,000, but no one is going to argue or put forth the effort to check. The stalls create a maze, a covered labyrinth. Don't even try to keep track of where you are. Assume that you will eventually end up where you started, and if not, just try my trick and walk around the entire circumference.
Would you like an alligator head purse? How about a puppy? If you are not a dog person, there are plenty of kittens to choose from. If your chandelier is broken, buy a new one here, and don't tell me you don't need that life-size Buddha for your living room. If you are in the market for smaller things, choose from cookie jars shaped like Disney characters or a shadow box of nautical pins. Stock up on your African tribal instruments, or if the mood strikes, you are more than welcome to invest in books on species of trees in northern Thailand. You will need a suitcase to carry most of this home, so don't forget to purchase one of those as well.
Do you know that feeling of regret when you can't stop thinking about an item that you wanted but didn't buy? I do, but don't worry about me. That does not apply to my trip to the Chatuchak market, because I bought everything. It was a severe case of repetitive impulse buys. I do not regret it. All I can say is thank goodness my two-hour bus ride back to the elephants was only four dollars.