Scenes from Bangkok: Life Along the City’s River

The Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn, is a Buddhist temple, features a 79-metre-high central spire built in the Khmer style, inlaid with porcelain, ceramic and coloured glass tiles

#Bucketlist this: Thailand’s City of Angels

Among its serene, happy people, Bangkok is known as Krung Thep, which can be translated in English as City of Angels. The citizens, aside from some political differences, do have a slight angelic quality to them, a friendly, generous and very tolerant society that makes you feel safe and welcome.

No trip to Bangkok is complete without a visit to at least one Wat, but beyond that, we’ve discovered a few must-do’s with the help of Thai travel experts, Smiling Albino. Calgary-born founder, Daniel Fraser, is a full-time resident of Thailand now, which makes him and his company a go-to travel insider. Fraser is a fan of “milestone” trips, a term he uses when he customizes tours for his clients. A mother and daughter, celebrating mom’s 50th; a group of 60-something guys heading to semi-retirement and about to embark on the second phase of their lives; a 25th wedding anniversary for the whole family.

Aside from the spiritual, Bangkok is also a city of food, of nightlife, where Southeast Asian culture comes together. Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Muslim all share the city, in a peaceful, respectful manner. The political climate has eased – Thailand is among the few countries that seem to function better under military rule, a rule that also respects their revered King above all else. He is the figurehead and the father of the country, and in Bangkok, his and his family’s image are splashed all over public spaces.

And that’s just it. With a country that sometimes has its name in news due to politics or royal dissent, it’s important to have someone on the ground who knows the terrain. Fraser and his team are entrenched in the country, and in Bangkok. Can’t speak the language? No worries, the guides at Smiling Albino are fully fluent in Thai. Many guides even come from the areas of the country that you might find yourself in, making it a much more in-depth, local experience.

So, hit your own milestone, and travel with me – and Smiling Albino – to Bangkok. www.smilingalbino.com; North America toll free: 1-877-THAIWAY (842-4929); Calgary: 1-403-668-9455

 Life Along the Chao Phraya River

Here, click through the slideshow to follow the Smiling Albino guides for river cruise along the Chao Phraya, a 372 kilometre urban waterway that the citizens use to get to where they are going almost as much as they use the surrounding streets.

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 1LongBoatsStart with a water taxi ride, a quick and inexpensive way to get around Bangkok

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2RiversideSceneShrines and temples sprout up everywhere along the river, even in private yards and terraces

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3ALongboatCanalFor a private ride, book a long boat

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4longboatslockLong boats line up in the locks along the river, waiting for the water levels to be raised and lowered

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5ViewRiverIt’s not unusual to see ornate buildings decorating the river’s edge

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6MerchantMany merchants and farmers use the river to transport their wares and produce to market

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7-MonkA Buddhist Monk takes a waterside break

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8ARiversideWelcomeSiamA riverside welcome at the Siam hotel’s dock thesiamhotel.com

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9-RailingsCarved railings, the intricate lettering of the Thai alphabet and the spires and peaks of the temple buildings collaborate to create a multi0coloured vignette

 Want more Bangkok? This is the third of a four-part series. Read the entire series here

 

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