Exploring Bangkok city with the “Streetwise Guru”…
“I am not your guide, I am your friend.”
That’s pretty reassuring in a town like Bangkok where the bustle can feel much more like hustle. The town for the uninitiated is overwhelming at best and downright threatening at worst.
To get comfortable on a first visit to Bangkok, its ideal to have a friend to show you round, thus Chetta Khambunditkul, the Streetwise Guru from Anantara Riverside Resort.
For the next three hours Chetta navigates the river and ramshackle streets of hectic Bangkok to reveal some of the Bangkok experiences for the Bangkok novice.
Part food tour and part cultural tour, it’s a dazzling introduction to Bangkok. It says a lot that by the end of the tour, Chetta’s assistant on the tour can’t show me on a map where we have settled in for lunch and a natter with a few beers, satay sticks, chicken rice and pork.
The day starts like any ideal Thai day, at the temple. Wat Yannawa is rarely visited by westerners and is the royal temple dedicated to ship building and craft. I had a choice of blessing, throw a fish back into the river for good health or throw in an eel for success. Metaphoric choice about life really. I took health, I am a dad these days.
The temple building itself is modest but within the same complex is Buddhist monk museum. The museum is a single large room where great relics are kept, the bones of a Buddha from India which have turned into crystal and about 50 other important thai monks bones who have done similar things. Tucked quietly into one corner and old monk gave us a blessing and small amulet for my wrist which is strangely reassuring.
My favourite place is the famous Bangkok flower market. Climbing out of the tuk tuk the sweet floral smell is gorgeous and does make a change to the diesel fumes blasted into your pores by our speedy tuk tuk driver.
Gorgeous flowers of stunning colours pour out of tiny little ubiquitous stands. Flowers team from everywhere. Rose flowers are individually wrapped in protective styrofoam sheaths to insure no petals are lost in or damaged in transit. It’s an orchestra of vivid colour with a choral accompaniment of amazing perfume.
BFC – Bangkok Fried Chicken washed down with some fresh juices, that’s snacking Bangkok style. The pomegranate and green guava juices are outstanding refreshers from the heat but the green sludge said to be a herb concoction makes me feel like I have just licked the bottom of the lawn mower.
The Streetwise Guru costs THB 2000 per person and includes Streetwise kits, transportation, all meals and non alcoholic beverages, full tour programmes and admission charges at designated places.
The Streetwise Guru is only available to guests of Anantara Riverside, Bangkok.