Sawat-dii khrap (Greetings from Bangkok)

Thursday, June 27, 1996

Bangkok From The Air

Bangkok is hot… very, very hot. Except when you’re indoors, when it can be very, very cold. Somehow the air conditioning often seems to be set far too low. The city is also extremely congested. The 24km trip from the airport to my hotel took about two and a half hours the day I arrived, including about half an hour sitting stationary in one traffic jam! I can certainly understand why so many people ride motorbikes here, as they can weave in and out of the stationary cars and buses. However, given the rather exciting driving style where you can never be entirely sure which side of the road people will be driving on, I’m not sure that motorbikes would be conducive to a long life. Taxi drivers must be very brave.

Thanks to a combination of the time difference and the hassle of the last few weeks I pretty much fell asleep for three days. Monday I got up solely to shower and eat, Tuesday I spent the afternoon wandering around the local area, then met up with Yui, a net.friend here. As it was her birthday she took me out with some of her friends for dinner in the evening. That was nice, though I finally passed my hot-food-threshold. After my friend Ben’s extremely hot Indonesian curries I didn’t think that was possible. Hopefully we’ll be going dancing on Friday.

I think I’ve probably eaten more Thai food here than I ever did back home, and I’ll get through plenty more before I leave. I rather like the Thai way of eating with a fork and spoon, it works well. I think I should have mastered it soon.

The Cat Has The Right Idea

Yesterday I got up in the afternoon and started doing some touristy stuff, today I got up at 8am and I’m probably going to visit the National Museum. Being a sucker for museums I’ll probably be there all day. If not then I’ll head for the cyberpub at one of hotels here and see if my magic mailbot works. If you get this there’s a good chance that it did.

Bangkok reminds me of Jerusalem; there’s the same sort
of mixture of old and new architecture, though most of the buildings in the area I’m staying are definitely new. Another difference are the Thai ‘spirit houses’ which are built along with all new buildings, so that the spirits of the land will move into the spirit house rather than live in the buildings with the occupants. I can see why they would, most of them are very pretty, particularly the two outside the hotel.

Ah, the hotel. Yes, well, I’m paying $22.50 per night to the travel agency for my room and apparently the normal room rate is more like $150 per night. I don’t think that they often get people wandering into the lobby carrying huge rucksacks and wearing trousers with holes in them. It’s nice because everything is here, but on the other hand I’m not meeting any other travellers like I did in the hostel in Israel. I’ve also learnt to avoid getting a taxi from outside the hotel as the drivers think all the people staying here must be rich.

Next week I’m off for a couple of days to visit friends in Singapore, then back here for a day or two before I leave for Hong Kong. I’m wishing now that I’d had the three or four weeks I originally planned so that I could have travelled out to see some of the other towns and rural areas. Bangkok is an interesting city, but I think the congestion would get tiring after a while. Guess I’ll just have to come back another time, and learn some Thai first to make life easier.

This is actually looking to be a big problem with this travel business. One reason for making this trip was so that I could visit all these places in one go and not have a need to visit them again in the future. Of course the opposite seems to be happening – having seen a bit of the country I want more time to see the rest of it. Oh well, if I can find a telecommuting job…

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