Bangkok

Saturday, June 4th, 2005

Bangkok is full of contrasts: juxtaposed shanties and skyscrapers, luxury cars and bicycles, well dressed youth and vagabonds. Compared to the places I saw in Vietnam, the city feels wealthier and more vibrant. It may be that it is more friendly towards tourists (who are wandering everywhere and are easily picked out), but the place has both an accessibility and vibrancy that is hard to match in any US city that I can think of. Taxis are cheap, walking is easy if you can stand the rotten air. Touts are persistently trying to hock stuff, but are easily ignored. Kids are playing in the street. Roosters are fighting each other. Old men are eating and playing cards. Food is spilling out of street carts. Everyone is out in the open and going about their business, and this makes the whole city feel like a giant home that you’re walking around inside.


Here is the obligatory shot out of the plane window. Cambodia lies beneath.


Flying over the farmland on the edge of Bangkok, I noticed that the plots of land are all in long rectangles. This makes for awkward housing developments, as they are crammed into two long rows with a street down the middle.


A quiet Bangkok street near our guest house.


Here I am lying in the guest house bed and contemplating one of my favorite Asian fruits: the Mangosteen. It looks like a cross between a pomegranate and an orange. Slicing the skin in half reveals the white orange-like core which contain a sizable seed. And they are cheap. Cheap!


Further proof that my childhood was basically Southeast Asian. In our guesthouse shower is a shell and stick mobile that it identical to the one hanging in our Dallas shower.


Scooter + Car – Safety = Tuk Tuk


A view of the shopping district from the loading platform of Bangkok’s Skytrain.


A view at dusk of the recently built Wat by our guest house.


Sunset view of the western outskirts of Bangkok from the edge of the Chao Phraya River.


A Catfish feeding frenzy on the same river. Vendors were selling sacks of dog food and bread scraps to people who wanted to feed them and for the entertainment of those waiting for the water taxi.

MORE PHOTOS:


Building getting renovated near Baglamphu district.


N. sitting in front of another Wat.


Rambutan fruit.


Dilapidated buildings next to a filthy canal in Baglamphu district.

We leave Bangkok for Cambodia tomorrow.

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