Maria may have hung up her backpack but she's still chasing wanderlust around Asia.
Michael and I just got back from the most romantic anniversary trip to Bangkok! In between stuffing ourselves with pad thai, dodging tuk-tuks and touring some of South East Asia’s prettiest temples, I also got the chance to try out my new camera.
On our recent trip to Bangkok Michael spoiled us by booking some of the restaurants and hotels we could only dream of when we were last there on our backpacking world tour. We used the gorgeous Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit as our base and spent our days wandering hand-in-hand through ancient temple complexes, bartering with food vendors and tailors for the best prices and making new friends in some off-the-wall bars. I also got to put the camera I got for Christmas through its paces. It’s hard to pick my favourite shots - everywhere we looked, there were iconic Bangkok scenes to photograph, from colourful longtail boats on the Chao Phraya River to the golden spires of the Grand Palace.
We dedicated our first day to ticking off the most iconic Bangkok attractions. First up was the Grand Palace, via a whirlwind tuk-tuk race through streets so vibrant they made Auckland seem like it was stood still. Queuing in the heat was worth it once we got inside because everywhere I pointed my lens I found gleaming golden chedis, ornate statues and graceful red-and-green tiled roofs. With my temple obsession re-ignited, we decided to continue our adventure with a stroll to nearby Wat Pho.
Michael and I were tired of queues by this point so we bypassed the famous reclining Buddha and headed straight to the temple’s tranquil courtyards where I used the rows of smaller Buddhas to experiment with different depths of field. My favourite temple of the day, though? Wat Arun, hands down. Located across the river from Wat Pho, it’s one of the most beautiful places in Bangkok. By the time we took the ferry across it was already late afternoon and the complex was bathed in amber light. We were able to slip inside just before the gates closed, but my best picture was actually taken after we left, looking back at the temple’s illuminated spires from the deck of the ferry.
Bangkok by Night
We travelled downriver as darkness fell and got off at Sathorn Pier. I wanted to photograph some of Bangkok’s amazing nightlife spots and our friendly concierge had recommended Maggie Choo’s, a secret Shanghai-style speakeasy at the Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom. My Instagram Stories quickly filled up with awesome details from our evening at Maggie’s – an old Chinese door, the vaulted space awash with imperial busts and jade green lamps. I can’t lie though… We might have gone for the photos but we stayed for the epic cocktails and incredible live jazz!
Bangkok is full of Insta-worthy bars and we explored lots of them on our trip. My favourite shots were taken on a super romantic evening at SO/ Sofitel Bangkok. Michael surprised me with a reservation at rooftop restaurant Park Society which has panoramic views of Lumpini Park – not to mention a gourmet menu that made me the envy of all my foodie followers. The views were so breathtaking we couldn’t tear ourselves away, so we stayed for signature cocktails at HI-SO rooftop bar. The icing on the cake was finding out that Michael’s Accor Plus membership halved our food bill and gave us 15% off drinks! Another champagne cocktail? Don’t mind if I do.
Many of my photos are of Bangkok’s parks, people and the vibrant street scenes on Khao San and Yaowarat roads. They’re of places that tons of visitors have photographed before me – but there’s one place that only a lucky few will be able to add to their Instagram feed. To celebrate our anniversary (I can’t believe we’ve been married a whole year!) we used the Accor Plus Red Hot Rooms benefit to score an amazing deal on one of the hotel’s nicest suites. Staying here was the most romantic experience of my life. I used a timer to capture my favourite moment – Michael and me in the jacuzzi on our private terrace, with the shimmering lights of the night-time city behind us.