Bangkok: March 2016
Bangkok in one day is definitely ambitious. Probably even a little crazy. Cut it down to just the most significant things to see (and eat!), and not even all of those. Add in the customary 95F heat and it's a recipe for a very long day.
First stop is Wat Po, with the huge reclining buddha-- quite a sight! The rest of Wat Po is intricate and beautiful as befits a first-class royal temple, with Phra Mondob and Phra Maha Chedi Si Ratchakan worth some time, as well as the spires of Phra Chedi Rai. Took over an hour in the sweltering heat to see everything. Can't even begin to list the rest of the names of all of the structures inside Wat Po (or any of the other major sights, for that matter!).
A sea of tuk-tuks on the short walk over to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, into a gigantic noontime crowd trying to get in. Wat Phra Kaew is a sea of spires and massive buildings, including Ubosoth (main building) and Prasat Phra Thep Bidon, mostly covered in intricate gold, mirrors, and paintwork. Mobs of tourists, but like Wat Po, it's intricate and beautiful as well.
You then cross over into the Grand Palace, with Chakri Mahaprasat as the largest hall and the one that's most exposed to tourists, complete with a run-down little weapons museum inside. Phra Thinang Aphorn Phimok Prasat is a stunning gold-encrusted outdoor pavilion, and just steps away is Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat, one of the few halls in the Grand Palace you are allowed to enter. As one of the newer halls, the decoration is considerably different than the earlier construction-- white walls instead of elaborate tile and paint. The Museum of the Emerald Buddha Temple was unexpectedly interesting too, plus the upstairs is air conditioned!
Half the day done, reversed course through the typical awful Bangkok traffic and hit a few shopping malls for the afternoon-- lunch at Siam Paragon's Food Hall, plus Siam Central and Central World. Nom'ed right away at Siam Paragon before exploring the rest of the other three malls... saw a street vendor with some tasty smelling pad thai between malls, but I was too full to eat! Then unexpectedly succumbed to more food at Central World's top floor food court, and was very sad when I found that Central World apparently has a massive stand of hawker stalls outside too-- complete with some delicious looking roast pork and piles of noodles!
Wrapped up the night in Chinatown (Yaowarat Road), which was not very crowded as it was midweek. Still enough to get a taste of the area though, and had to have calamari rings plus prawn fried rice at T & K before I left for a midnight snack. Ended up somewhat disappointed with somewhat oily fried rice that took twenty minutes (!) to come out. Still can't complain about the day as a whole-- t'was good!