Bangkok, Thailand

Capital de Tailandia. El río Chao Phraya, lleno de botes, alimenta su red de canales y pasa por el distrito real de Rattanakosin, donde se encuentra el Gran Palacio y su templo sagrado Wat Phra Kaew. Cerca de allí, se ubica el templo Wat Pho, con un enorme Buda inclinado y, en la orilla opuesta, el templo Wat Arun, con sus empinados escalones y su chapitel de estilo Khmer. Un par de días, lo que permitió el trabajo, recorrimos algunas calles de Bangkok.


The longest city name in the world

Although the capital city of Thailand is known to the world as Bangkok, local people refer to it as Krung Thep. But this is just a shortened version of the actual name, which consists of 169 characters and makes for a challenging tongue twister. The full name is:

Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahinthara Yutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udom Ratchaniwet Mahasathan Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukamprasit.

This roughly translates to:

City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the 9 gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s behest.

Some old laws in practice are:

It is illegal to leave the house without wearing underwear
It is illegal to drive a motorised vehicle bare-chested
It is illegal to use a durian fruit as a weapon and the fine levied will be determined by how many thorns strike the victim

It is illegal to step on any Thai currency – either coins or notes – as they carry an image of the King

Third-gender washrooms

When nature calls and you make a dash to complete your mission, don’t be surprised if you are faced with not 2 toilet doors, but 3.

Along with the usual male and female washrooms found everywhere, Thailand was one of the first countries in the world to introduce a third gender option for transgender men, commonly known as ladyboys. This option is rare and it’s unlikely you’ll encounter such a toilet situation, but they are out there and you never know where one might crop up, particularly as Thailand – and Bangkok in particular – is a very liberal place in terms of sexuality and tolerance towards gender identity.

 Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been colonised by a European power

Thai people are noticeably proud of their culture and heritage, and if you happen to get onto the subject of history while in conversation with Thai people, mention this little gem of a fact for instant nods and big smiles.

During the so-called ‘Age of Empires’ in the 19th century, when European nations went rampaging across the globe on a path of domination, Thailand’s strategic location acted as a buffer between France’s Indochina and the Burmese and Indian colonies of Britain. Having a neutral, independent nation between them was so desirable that it ensured Thailand was never subjected to a full-on military invasion.

The independence of Thailand was also down to the excellent governance by the much-beloved King Rama V, who ceded small amounts of land to ensure peace with the European powers. King Rama V is also revered as it was under his authority that slavery was abolished in Thailand, and his portrait can be seen in many shops, restaurants and homes.