Last day in Bangkok, last day of 2011 - ended with a bang!

For our last day in Bangkok, and indeed, the last day of 2011, we decided to explore the Royal Palace. Walking there from the hotel, we could tell we were getting closer by the increasing number of buses, tuk tuks and tourists. There were people everywhere! Hundreds of thousands of them!

We walked past the great Wat Pho, a temple just near the palace, and wandered in there for a look. Temples in Thailand are all so incredibly ornate, which makes for fantastic photo opportunities.

I love the gargoyles, gods and kings that peer down at you from every angle, and once again went on a sepia rampage - I just love what sepia timings do to these very old stone figures.

Next stop was the palace, and the traffic got even mental than many tourists trying to cram into the main gate and buy tickets...ugh!

Once in, the palace grounds were packed, and security was pretty visible everywhere we looked.

The buildings were over-the-top ornate, and had more bling than you could poke a chopstick at.

It provided a fascinating glimpse into the life of Thai royalty!

While we could have walked around for hours, the oppressive heat and huge crowds got a bit in our faces, and we headed back into Chinatown for lunch. We found more food markets, and some weird and wonderful Chinese produce on display.

Later that evening, we headed out for street food near the hotel. We'd visited the same street a few nights earlier, and the food was awesome. I had larb gai, which is spicy minced pork, and I reckon it was the best street meal of the trip to date. A couple of beers rounded off our last dinner of 2011.

We were allowed up to the hotel's rooftop bar to take photos, and headed up there at about 11.30 to set up. We had no idea where the fireworks were going to appear, but small bursts had been firing into the sky all night.

As midnight struck, Bangkok went off with bang - or hundreds of bangs all over the place, actually. Fireworks exploded left, right and centre and it was hard to know where to focus.

It was a fitting end to our fabulous 5 days in Bangkok, and it was great to have the "break" before joining the 18 day tour of Cambodia and Vietnam the following day.

2011 was a big year for me - full of ups and downs, but it ended on a huge high, and one I'm sure will carry over into 2012!

Happy New Year to you, wherever and however you celebrated it!!

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