Whats the plan on the way back? That was the thought on my mind during our 5 hour transit halt in Suvarnabhumi International Airport at Bangkok. And that too it was a 10 hour wait. So I decided that I would go out of the airport and see as much as possible during the return journey.
The Thai flight reached Bangkok at 11:00 am in the morning and I looked up the place to get a transit visa. The visa is free for Indian Passport holders(free till 31 Mar 2011 as of now). The Visa is valid for 15 days, single entry and is non-extendable. Unfortunately, I had only 10 hours to spare to go sightseeing. I filled up the form at the counter, stuck the passport size photo(you can also get your photo taken at the counter) and took my place at the end of a long line. After about 10 mins and the line not moving an inch, I saw that there was an empty express counter adjecent to the normal one. Apparently there is a 200 Baht fee to get it processed there. Having limited time, I quickly got out of the queue and got it processed in 2 mins.
We went to the nearest tour operator counter and talked to him about the options of a super fast sightseeing trip. He explained the different options and suggested that we visit the royal palace and the Buddha temple. We liked the choice and the price of 4500 Baht which comes with a taxi and a tour guide, so we immediately finalised the deal. Got onto the taxi and sped out of the airport. The route out reminded me of India, and this feeling would only get stronger as we saw more of the place.
The traffic was a killer! It almost felt that we would be stuck in traffic the entire day before going back to the airport! The pace died out as soon as we touched the entrance of the city. It took about one and a half hours for us to reach the tour operator's office, from where we were to meet the guide and switch the taxi. After a brief intro, the guide quickly explained the various options we had and we moved to the first destination, the Palace complex, which is the official residence of the King of Thailand.
The Grand Palace Complex
The Reclining Buddha
Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall
The structure of the palace complex was awesome. The greenery and the gold setting very pretty. There were a lot of tourists around and that too from various countries. Many from India as well. The guide did not recommend that we spend too much time there since we were short on time. So after seeing around for maybe about 45mins, we left to the see the Buddha temple and the reclining Buddha. The structure and the temple were beutifully maintained. The guide told us that the shining golden pieces on the temple were real gold pieces. Hmm... Lots of gold hanging about! Anyways, soon after this we went off into the shopping areas, visiting some gem stone vendors and a local shopping spot. There were many things on display and we could see a lot of tourists with huge bags of purchases. Soon it was time to say goodbye to Bangkok and head for the airport. Some more pictures of the visit can be viewed here.
Overall the trip was very short and we had very less time for sightseeing and shopping. But Bangkok is sure on my list of visit again. Its a very nice place with many factors reminding me of India. But next time I sure aim to spend more time at Thailand.