The rumbles of Bangkok’s New Years celebrations are replaced with birdsong and lizards with the occasional lapse for complete silence. The streets are empty. Below a man walks through the streets with pram and baby as two elderly gents stand puzzled in the centre of a usually busy junction. Black-naped orioles bounce between branches on the tree below the balcony. I love New Years Day. Three days earlier there was a mass exodus of Bangkok as revellers welcome the New Year on Thai beaches and islands or in their hometowns. It feels like Bangkok is to ourselves. A faint echo of Buddhist prayer arrives with the wind.
Tradition for New Years Day takes in a Nine Temple Tour of Bangkok. Not this year. We made an attempt two days earlier in the old city area of Bangkok. Again we fail to complete all nine covering only three for the day including Wat Saket (the Golden Mount).
In the evening of New Years Eve we join the Buddhist chants at Sanam Luang as locals welcome the New Year with prayer. Thousands gather haunched on knees as monks chant from the front stage. Buddhist chants and teachings echo through loud speakers in the area. After thirty minutes my knees feel broken so we leave to scour the area. Some interesting rituals and shrines in the area. Too many to describe. Sanam Luang is found directly next to the Grand Palace and we watch sky lanterns appear from behind the temple rooftops.
In a last ditch effort to avoid a bitter end to our New Year (taxi incident below) we end up back at the condo. We avoid Asiatique, pass Khaosan Road and stop shortly at Central World. The crowds are a nightmare. We arrive five minutes before New Years countdown. It was a great end to the night. The city rumbles below us as buildings are lit in all colours as fireworks surround us. Some of the closer displays explode in front of us on the 19th Floor. Probably not the safest place to be certainly fun.
Expect busy traffic and road blocks at popular New Years Eve destinations. Where possible Skytrain (BTS) or Subway (MRT) may be easier to travel on the night. Taxis are a nightmare. This year more than ever. It can be hard to find taxis using meters on New Years Eve or even to find taxis accepting trips to the popular areas. Last New Years countdown we celebrated in the back of a Bangkok taxi en route to nightclubs in RCA. This year however was a new low. Travelling between Suan Luang a metered taxi offers to take us to Asiatique. When he sets off he attempts to scam us with a “New Years Eve fee”. We ask him to stop then bail to look for a new taxi. The taxi driver follows us aggressively asking for 35 Baht. We pay to see the back of him and i photograph his plates to report the incident. As I do he jumps from the taxi and comes to wallop me. Fanfan shouts for police and he scarpers. Luckily I got his plate number and the blurred image as he jumps from the taxi. For the rest of the night we had no problem with taxis and we tipped the honest drivers well. It was a blow to the night and with Fanfan’s mum visiting Bangkok this was not a nice scene to witness.