I watch morning arrive from the balcony of our rented apartment; soft yellow sunlight that filters through Bangkok’s persistent fog, illuminating her skyline.
I’m dressed in a satin kimono that once belonged to my mom, a black dress whose hem stops just below my knees, and a pair of weathered white Converse sneakers. I’ve picked the outfit out of respect for Thai Buddhist customs, otherwise, my denim shorts and a light cotton t-shirt would have sufficed for the oppressive heat.We’re visiting a nearby Buddhist temple – Wat Benchamabophit. Tolu suggested the location, and like all beautiful, well-known places, he anticipates there’ll be a crowd if we arrive any later than 8 AM.
Outside, finding a taxi is onerous. Drivers shake their heads no in refusal of whatever price we counter with and drive off unfazed. Some barely stop to negotiate, while others, assuming correctly that we’re visitors, try to sell sightseeing tours that will no doubt earn them more than the ten-minute cab fare.
With luck, and after a few rejections, we find a willing driver and pile onto black leather seats for a one-way ride. Even at 8 am in the morning, the weather is hot, and traffic is unforgiving. The taxi offers no respite from the heat. All four windows are down as if a cool breeze is expected to move through them.
When we arrive, the temple grounds are empty and almost quiet – wind chimes alone vibrate with a gentle sound. It appears that no one else, save the man we pay an entry fee to, is around, but this lasts for all of twenty minutes as buses dump chatty tourists at the bright red front gates. Inevitably, lines start to form for photos in front of the elaborate entrance. It’s hard not to look at the marble pillars and gilded roofing, let alone leave without a photograph; a way to remember when details start to fade.
I can’t thank these four enough for an amazing 24 hrs in Bangkok. Before I met up with them, I planned to spend my entire time in Thailand solo. However, I had connected with Tolu through social media, we happened to be in Bangkok on the same weekend, and the rest, as they say, is magic. Wait no, history. Yes, history.
Good To Know
- Wat Benchamabophit is also called The Marble Temple.
- Although this is a paid tourist attraction, temples are also sacred spaces for Buddhist Monks.
- Pay attention to dress codes, and appropriate visiting hours. At this temple, we [the ladies] had to cover shoulders, arms and any body part above the knee.
- Keep Google Maps on your phone
- Download an offline map of the area if you don’t have a sim card/ access to the internet. This is helpful for when your taxi driver doesn’t know a certain route well.
- Grab [Thai equivalent to Uber] is useful but I found it to be more expensive than taxis.
- The upside is that there’s no need to negotiate a price, which takes up a lot of time. I used a combo of Grab and flagging down taxis.
thank you for reading,
All photos of me shot by Tolu A. of FizCo. You can find more of his incredible work here.
Same Footprints, Different Sands