Remembrance 2020: From Bangkok to Nagoya (Via Tokyo)

In about a month and a half, 2020 will come to an end, but as we all know, the end of 2020 doesn’t mean the end of the hard times that come with COVID-19 and can continue even after a safe vaccine and a perfect cure are invented.

But I think hope is part of human nature and with the recent news about the possibly safe vaccine, I hope all this can be over in 2021. Hopefully within early-2021, though it seems unlikely… Still, I wish everyone who is reading this good health, happiness, and strength to get through the difficult situations.

This isn’t my usual kind of entry and I will get back to posting my travel stories and photos after this, but I want to share that I am unexpectedly back to studying in Japan again now. I went home during the semester break in February and didn’t think I would be able to fly back to Japan within 2020. The week before the journey was like a series of unfortunate events too… so I would like to record bits and pieces about the time I spent at home in Bangkok and my sudden return to Nagoya. It will be mostly ramblings, but to make it a bit more interesting, I will include the photos of the sky I took from home as well as a few more photos from my return trip to Nagoya.

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Bangkok, Thailand: Art Hunt at Old Town’s Hidden Temples

Few international travelers come to Bangkok Old Town area without visiting at least one or two temples and most travelers’ choices are probably the Grand Palace and Temple of Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), or Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun). After all, these are considered the most iconic temples in Bangkok.

While I definitely find the three temples mentioned above stunning, they are undeniably very crowded and the admission fees are pricey for foreigners too. If you are fine with foregoing Bangkok’s most famous temples or are looking to add some off-the-beaten-track spots to your Bangkok Old Town walk, I have six alternatives, five of which are considered hidden gems even among Thai people. You pay nothing to enter most of these temples (and the admission fees for those that aren’t free are very cheap), but you will get to enjoy beautiful artistic details in a much more peaceful environment.

This art walk through under-the-radar temples happened only a few days after I flew home from Nagoya for the semester break in February, before the pandemic has become severe in Thailand. The plan is all thanks to my friend who works as a licensed tour guide (actually, she is the friend who planned our visit to the Museum of Floral Culture in Bangkok a few years back). My friend found this Thai article about the beautiful art at 11 royal temples in Bangkok and we thought it would be fun to choose some lesser known royal temples on the list to visit together. Also, there was something else I had been wanting to try for a while.

Let me introduce you to the #giftograph_film series, where I will be showing my film photography.

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Bangkok, Thailand: A Day as a Cafe Hopper in Yaowarat Chinatown and Soi Nana

In all honesty, Bangkok Chinatown or Yaowarat’s new status as cafe hoppers’ favorite spot isn’t really a secret anymore. In addition to must-try Chinese restaurants and street food stalls, some travel blogs and websites already covered the chic and youthful cafes in historic Yaowarat Chinatown and its gentrifying neighbor called Soi Nana. In fact, I first heard of these cafes last year during my previous job when one of my former colleagues accompanied a Thai blogger and our Australian guests on their cafe hopping trip around Bangkok Chinatown and Soi Nana.

While I usually wouldn’t call myself a cafe hopper (except that time when I ate and drank my way around Mangwon-dong and Seongsu-dong in Seoul), I couldn’t not try cafe hopping in Yaowarat and Soi Nana after all this exposure. I couldn’t resist after seeing photos of the yummy-looking food and drink as well as the beautiful decor of each cafe.

Still, part of me was skeptical of the taste of food and drink at these “Instagram-worthy cafes” . After actually tasting them, though, I can honestly say that these cafes in Soi Nana and Bangkok Chinatown didn’t disappoint. Some of you might already know some of these places from other sources, but if my article can introduce you to a new one or show you what you didn’t know before, I will be very happy.

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Bangkok, Thailand: Weird, Wacky, and Wonderful at Wat Pariwat

Firstly, please look at the featured photo above of Wat Pariwat in Bangkok, Thailand. Take in all the details.

If you never knew until now that wat is Thai for temple, you probably couldn’t tell that the photo was taken at a Buddhist temple.

Wat Pariwat Ratchasongkhram or Wat Pariwat for short is one of the coolest places I have ever been to. This is where modern history, pop culture, and fantasy of all nationalities mind-blowingly blend into Thai Buddhism.

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Bangkok, Thailand: Christmas, K-pop, and Creativity in Ratchada

Ratchada is renowned mostly as a party destination, but there is much more to the district than that. Many of you probably see its connection to creativity ever since the unique Ratchada Train Night Market opened there in January 2015, but Christmas and K-pop…? These two words are less likely to pop into many people’s minds when visiting Ratchada, let alone Thailand.

But like many areas in Bangkok, Ratchada has its own ways of surprising locals and visitors alike. For Christmas and K-pop, you will need to time your visit and/or rely on your luck, though. Still, even if you aren’t in Bangkok at the right time, I highly recommend visiting the district for Ratchada Train Night Market. It is such a vibrant place and almost everything is reasonably priced in my opinion.

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