Remix: Three Nights in Bangkok (Because one is just too cliche), Part I
My cousin somehow ended up living in Bankok via Los Angeles, Alabama and Australia. I am sure it’s a long story. But we felt obligated — ok, and very excited — to visit and take advantage of his travel tips on our way back to Germany.
Bangkok, AKA Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, sits over the Chao Praya Delta where over eight million people call the 600 sq foot city home. Lets do some quick math — that’s over 13,000 residents per square mile! The growth spurt really hit during an investment phenomenon that took place in the 80s and 90s. Many worldwide corporate firms relocated their HQs to Bangkok, combined with its growing it’s reputation for inexpensive health care, Bangkok topped the MasterCard Global Destination Cities list last year.
Because Bangkok grew so rapidly, getting around by car just plain sucks. The underground subway and ‘Sky Train’ (best name for public transit ever) provide ways to get across town fast. Plus, because Bangkok can be alternating safe and dangerous depending on which side of the street you’re on, with the trains, you can skip over these parts. Sounds a bit cynical and unrealistic, but everyone does it. We took a taxi on one of the last days we were there through a part of the city we had rode the Sky Train over many times and it was just shocking – this is one part, of many parts of the world where one sees cardboard box living and all out struggle for life. Later we learned this is actually a very small population compared to the rest of the city, nonetheless it is very real. Bangkok has some of the best shopping with the highest in designer fashion, but also has the lowest of lows in terms of societal well being. Very grounding to see both, almost at the same time.
We arrived in the afternoon…or something. Honestly who knew/cared what time it was after being in three different time zones in a week. Stepping off the airplane, we felt an immediate warm humidity drape over our bodies. At least it was the dry season…
Sitting in the taxi on the way to ‘Soi 3,’ where our hotel was, we parked on the freeway. All kinds of what would be illegal seating arrangements in all kinds of vehicles surrounded us. There were kids laying in hammocks hanging from ladder racks of truck beds, people sitting on top of the cab of semi-trucks, and standing on bumpers of cars. Our first time in an Asian country, we were just taking it all in…
Who knows how we found our way to the hotel, but we did and immediately sought out the 7-11 next door for refreshments. We walked out the front door of the hotel, not seeing a single western-looking person, Tuk-Tuks and taxis just about to run you over, and the smell of hot, wet air combined with the salty smell of Thai-spiced fried noodles. It was the first time in a while either of us had felt truly out of our element — and we were loving it.
Ok, we’re in Thailand! Two Singhas please!