Get Ready for the 2011 Bangkok Marathon

This morning while running, I thought about the upcoming Bangkok Marathon.  I have to get a little more serious in my running.  In 53 days, the Bangkok Marathon will be held as it has been for the past few years.  On November 20, 2011 tens of thousands of people will be out running in the wee mornings of the day.  I will be there.  Let’s all be there.  Let’s go out, have some exercise and enjoy the experience.

For those of you who have never joined the marathon, let me tell you this.  Once you’ve experienced it, you will want to keep coming back.  It’s fun, it’s exciting and its open the everyone.  How often do you get to run on the street by the Grand Palace and watch the sunrise?

You don’t have to run the entire 42km marathon.  They have the 10K as well as the 5K for you to choose from.  I will be doing the 5K.  I want to run it all and not walk.

The first time I joined the marathon was 4 years ago, I was unfit, overweight and yes, I let many MANY people pass me by.  One of my most memorable moments was when I was huffling and puffling, red faced and short of breath. Then I looked towards my left and spotted a lady pushing another lady who was sitting on a wheelchair pass me by.  They both looked happy and not in the least bit tired.   That was a “down” moment.  I was overtaken by a lady pushing a wheelchair.   Imagine that.

The second time I joined, I had lost 15K and was running with Alex. I have to tell you the experience was a lot better.  I ran almost halfway before I took a walking break and yes, I finished it all in around 40 minutes which is not too bad for me.  I wasn’t huffling and puffing as much and my heart felt a lot stronger.  It was fun, I met friends, took photos and had a blast of a time.

This year will be third year, and I think I will finish the 5K with an even better timing than the last.  Of course, one must always aim for improvements.

So mark your calendars everyone.  November 20,2011.  Let’s all join the Bangkok Marathon.  Let’s have some “me” time and exercise!

Fear not that you won’t make it.  As a friend said the other day, “Once you start, you’ve gotta finish it.” I totally agree. No matter how long it takes, you will finish it.  Start little, start short distances if you are unsure.  5K is really not much at all. 🙂

Oh, here’s their website!  http://www.bkkmarathon.com/eng/index.php

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Bangkok Must See: Itinerary Summarized

Over the past few days I’ve been recommending the best of what ancient Bangkok has to offer in terms of sites and cultural heritage for those have only a day to spend. Below is my recommended itinerary and one that I use when I have friends visiting 🙂 Hope you like it!

Morning:
– Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Lunch: Pra Athit Road (There are so many restaurants along this road, I’ll mention them in my next post)

Afternoon:
– Temple of the Reclining Buddha
– Tea at “Vivi The Coffee Place”
– Cross the river to the Temple of Dawn

Evening:
– Dinner at “The Deck” Arun Residence

I realize I haven’t really talked about where to eat “Lunch” yet and eating is always a big deal of travel. Somedays on trips one can spend so much time looking for good delicious food it can be a bit of a headache.

In the next post I’ll give you some recommendations about restaurants along “Pra Athit” Road which is a funky little road filled with good restaurants and cosy bars for you to lunch. At one end of the road they also have a park by the river and an old fortress which makes you travel back in time 🙂

Stay tuned!

Bangkok Must See: The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha

If you are visiting Bangkok or have friends visiting Bangkok, a site you cannot miss is the Grand Palace.  I always believe that to understand a city and its people you have to understand it’s past.  The Grand Palace is exactly that.  It is what the old Kingdom of Siam (Thailand before we changed our name) is all about and it is indeed majestic sitting on the banks of the ChaoPhraya River or the River of Kings.  If you are a first time visitor, this should be your first stop, and if you have friends coming over, please take them to the Grand Palace.  It’s an amazing site that everytime I go there, I feel like I’m transported into another era.   Bangkok is not just about shopping malls and good food.

Amazingly, one can spend years and years in Bangkok living day to day life and probably never see the Grand Palace if you don’t make an effort to see it. The city has expanded so much and now the economic centre is far from the Old Bangkok.  If you don’t have any business in the area or live in other parts of the city, you’d probably get lost when you come to this ancient area of Bangkok.  Fortunately for me, my office is located in the old area of Bangkok with all the government offices and so I get to explore the area a bit more.

What is so beautiful about the Grand Palace?  First of all, it is not just one building but rather it is a complex of buildings which were constructed in the 18th century when the capital of Bangkok was moved from the Thonburi side of the river over to its present day location.  This was to be the seat of the Rattanakosin government and centre of the Chakri Dynasty.  This was where the King and his family resided, where the government held court and where they worshipped.  This is also the location of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew).  What makes this palace even more amazing is that its plan follows that closely of the palace in the ancient capital of Ayutthaya.  No one but the King is allowed to touch the Emerald Buddha.

The architectural style is that of ancient Ayutthaya and is so colourful and intricate you could get lost just looking at the details.  The roofs have gentle curves that gives the structure a certain elegance and softness whilst the bright orange tiles and green borders make it radiate.  The walls are filled with glittering mosaics and colourful tiles adorn the outside.  The corridors and walkways are of marble.  If you go there on a hot sunny day, the flickering spots of light make you wonder if you are in some sort of dream.  Beautiful and mesmerizing.  Be sure to wear sunglasses though.  It gets very hot in the sun.

Surrounding the inner area where the Emerald Buddha, which is actually made of Jade,  is located  you will find “Giants” standing guard over the entrance.  These mythical giants are 5 metres high and enough to make any child scared, but they are so beautifully painted and filled with mosaics, it makes me smile everytime I see them.  They are the temple’s guardians.

On the inside walls, you will also find murals of the Ramayana.  Thai Buddhism is greatly influenced by India and we share many things in common.  It’s a beautiful depiction.  I could go on and on about the Temple, the Grand Palace, the Golden Pagodas, the mythical creatures and the legends that surround it, but it would require an entire book and so I leave you at this.

File:Bangkok statue.jpg
If you decide to go visit, I recommend making time for an entire day walking around the Grand Palace and visiting other sights in this old area of Bangkok. (I’ll outline a plan in future posts).  Go early in the morning as it gets very warm.  Dress respectfully as it is a place of worship and still used in ceremonies.  This means, long sleeves, long pants, long skirts and no sandles.  If you don’t have them, you can rent it by the entrance.  There are guides available too and if you are a tourist, you can buy tickets which is a mere 250thb ($8) per person giving you entrance to the entire complex as well as to the armory and smaller buildings in the complex.   The ticket also gives you entrance to the Teak Palace not far away which is also incredibly beautiful.  Thais do not have to pay as it is a temple and place of worship.

If you start around 8.30am you could finish in around two hours.  Afterwhich I recommend visting Wat Pho with the reclining buddha just behind the Grand Palace, having lunch, taking a boat ride across to the Temple of Dawn before spending time walking around the  park by the river and having some tea.  There is much to do.  One day won’t be enough if you love historical sites…

Photos are courtesy of wikipedia today..I’m still searching for my photos!