Monday, April 16, 2007

Balderdash-ing in Bangkok

It's what lies beneath when entering the city of Bangkok.

Just like any emerging Asian city, the so-called "Venice of Asia" is one huge concrete jungle.

Traffic is a headache, pollution plagues the lungs and heat is a b*tch.

For a country whose second biggest economic resource is tourism, I was surprised to experience that most people lacked basic English communication skills. We stayed in Baiyoke Sky hotel, a hotel equates to tourists, but here all then can give you is one big jaw drop. "You are supposed to reply. Do you un-der-ssstand the wordssss co-ming ooo-ut of myyyy mou-th?" It's rude to stare, what more than to open your mouth. Am I supposed to deposit something inside?

We flew via Thai Airways. Marketing is one huge lie, what hospitality and service are they talking about? To and from Manila, not once did I see a fight attendant genuinely smile. In the city, restaurant service is not impressive, besides an obvious language barrier, servers fail to smile but make it a point to open their mouths once more and stare.

The Tuk Tuk is an icon associated with Thailand. Dude, wake up and smell your chili. Hotels put up signs warning tourists to stay away from Tuk Tuks and travel books publish against this form of transportation. Best way to get around the city is via taxi. Make sure the meter will be in use and if desperate haggle and agree on a fixed amount.

But for what it's worth, Bangkok is a great place to get lost in transportalation!

Bangkok is cheap and frolicking is the way to go.

Let the pictures be a testament to the sparkling finds in this city's amazon.

nice shot!

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew faces

Asia has the best religious and cultural art. Head on to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, one entrance, two great sites worth your 250 Baht. The details on the art can be over whelming with its intricate wonders of expression.


Temple Guards

E-6 (3)

E-6 (5)

The standing Buddah temple

E-6 (2)

The seated Buddah of Traimit

More works of art
E-6 (8) E-6 (1)

Boutique dining
Head on to Th Khao San after you've had your temple Wat fill.

Soi is a small narrow street or what is also called a sub-street. Th Khao San is arguably the liveliest street in Bangkok, the so-called backpackers area. Lined with restaurants, bars, vendors and what have you, exploring away to its small streets and alleys will not fail. One Soi had this quaint resto and boutique shop owned by a local fashion designer. It's Happened to be a Closet. Superb interior, thumbs-up on the food, but consider this a bit pricey with dishes starting at 250Baht to 750Baht after you have been spoiled from scrumptious 100 - 150 Baht authentic Thai cuisine.

squid ink pandesal
squid ink bread - pasta & scallops

in Khao San boutique dining
Right beside the closet, there is an Internet Cafe with 60's, 70's interior that creates a lounge feel for its guests. A perfect place for low or high tea, which ever time you prefer. There are two other eclectic designed hole-in-the-wall restos that grab attention, which I have failed to try out.

I can spend the entire day in this location alone. It's hard to miss. Just look for the sub-street leading to a court yard looking area.

Although my Lonely Planet yellow bible was very helpful, experience taught me not to depend on the book when it comes to food establishments. Went to the exact address listed but there was no such eatery, the name was probably changed to Cafe Primo. The other had a contact number but to no avail and locals have never heard of the Pickle Factory. The vicinity map of Khao San helped me plot out some restos. But at 10PM, if your cab has a typical Bangkok-taxi- driver-ass who decides to drop you at the avenue next to Th Khao San, what seemed to be a plausible 500-800meter walk (according to the Asia in a Shoestring guide) to Hemlock, is a busted myth.

Luckily, just like finding an oasis on a dessert of ghetto mayhem, Mayompuri was the perfect find.


When you hit Th Khao San's dead end, make a left, walk for a minute or two, it's there! Now eat, dine, drink and relax. Dishes were between 100Baht - 250Baht. Yummy!


When done with comfortable dining and seating, head on to Khao San's artery for some street food such as insects, worms, Pat Thai and Ya Ki So BA. Some art works pop out as well but do not mind shopping for clothes and wait until the weekend for the mother father of Bangkok's shopping destination.

In the Chatuchak Weekend Market if you bring around 5,000Baht for clothes, you will have a large problem finishing it off. An open-air market, reeking of teen spirit and trash, packed with a frenzy of mindless pedestrians along with the sweltering scorch that creates a natural sauna will not stop one from a 6-hour shopping spree. I barely shop, but shirts that cost 100-250Baht maximum is just too hard to pass. You'll see. Be sure to have this map handy.

Ping Pong in Patpong is another tourist destination. Surprisingly, people and couples regardless of age, race or religion gather around some dimly lit room, Asian brothel style. Our tour guide brought us there to prove that the legend is true. For 500Baht, it turned into a bottle opener, shot darts, blew candles, puff puffed on more than 3 cigarettes at a time, drew on paper, strings and blades were pulled out from it and finally, drank clear water and then out came coke.

Bangkok is a city that can boast many spectacular finds. Spending 4 - 5 days following the itinerary I made, posted here, is more than enough. It can be a vacation but not really for the R & R type.

Walk, explore and GET LOST! Bangkok is a city where discoveries become a euphoric reward!

*more photos here, here and here.
April 5 - 9, 2007

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