Thursday, March 06, 2008

Snapshots from Bangkok

Roadside temple in BangkokOn my last day in Bangkok, I took a morning stroll through the streets. Food vendors lined the pavements on small mobile stalls. I noticed fried banana fritters, skewers of meat, fish rubbed with spices ready to be fried or grilled to order, skewers of satay, and a variety of cut fruits. I noticed a number of small temples on the roadside and they reminded me of temples back home (which are dedicated to Ganapati in Maharashtra or Hanuman in most of North India).

The day before we had strolled through the Suan Lum Night Bazaar which is very much like Janpath in Delhi or Fashion Street in Pune, but opens only during the evenings until midnight. Rows and rows of small shops sell everything from cheap toys, clothes, silk, handicrafts to leather goods. Unlike Beijing, the vendors don’t hardsell as much (at least in the one I was in). And very much like Beijing, bargaining is done with the help of a calculator where you take turns at keying in your price until you reach agrement. :-)

Roadside temple in Bangkok

Many of the palaces and temples built in Bangkok are faithful reproductions of earlier buildings in the older Siamese city of Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya was the splendid capital of the kingdom of Siam before the Burmese invasion of 1767 in which it was completely razed to the ground. This city enthralled travelers was and was popular with traders. At the confluence of three rivers, Ayutthaya was an island city. The city was never rebuilt even when King Taksin defeated the Burmese and drove them out of this region. Instead a new capital was constructed in Bangkok.

Early morning activity and Tuctucs in Bangkok

Like Paul Theroux once put it, Bangkok smells of sex. Despite Thai modesty and shyness, the business of sex thrives here. Much of the industry caters to locals and this seems to be an accepted part of life. While sex tourism attracts worldwide attention, it is a fraction of the business which is primarily driven by local customers. If you are male and traveling without a female companion, every tuk-tuk driver and cabbie will offer to take you to one of the many adult entertainment districts that are replete with go-go bars, and the ‘special’ massage parlours and haircut saloons.

Crafts and local girls in Bangkok

I didn't have much time to tour the city. If I am here again, I want to see more of the enchanting temples, especially the ones which house the Reclining Buddha and the one of the Golden Buddhha cast of 25 tons of solid gold! Kickboxing matches are held regularly in two stadia which ought to be interesting to watch too. The Floating Markets on the river are another popular attraction.

Crafts and Local Girls in Bangkok

In the newspaper I noticed that deposed Prime Minister Thaksin is ending his exile and returning to Thailand. Thankfully that doesn’t delay my journey to the airport or my flight back home.

The pictures here are of roadside temples, the ubiquitous tuk-tuks used to ferry people and goods, local girls displaying their skills in traditional craft, and finally the imposing statue at Suvarnabhoomi Airport. The statue appears to depict the Hindu mythology of the Gods and the Demons churning the ocean with the help of the King of Snakes, Vasuki.

Sculpture at the Suvarnabhoomi Airport in Bangkok


Other Bangkok Posts:

7 comments:

backpakker said...

so much colour..no wonder asia is so unique ..loved the last pic

Shantanu said...

@backpakker: I completely agree. :-)

indicaspecies said...

May I suggest you to add to your list a cruise on the Chao Phraya, if not experienced already? I liked that the best.

I'd rather go to the mountainous Chiang Mai or explore Phuket than repeat a trip to Bangkok.

Shantanu said...

@indicaspecies: Will keep that in mind the next time. Hardly had time outside of business during this trip. :-)

Alitta said...

Right! Bangkok is kinda boring unless you yearn for clubbing! The temples in Bangkok are admirable though!

Shantanu said...

@alitta: Thanks for visiting. Yes, I have to return to try some of the city's other charms!

Bangkok Hotels said...

Thank you for your good story. From my experience of Bangkok trip. I think that looking for accommodation around Sukhumvit are is the good idea because Sukhunvit is in the heart of the shopping district, both in terms of large department stores and the various stalls lining both sides of the road. The various side-streets provide a proliferation of nightlife venues. For the renowned and well-known spots, you will need to walk onwards past the Asok crossroads to Sukhumvit Soi 21 or Soi Cowboy. This area also offers a wide selection of cuisine to choose from, both in terms of air-conditioned high-end restaurants and open air restaurants offering quite reasonable prices.