Bangkok Thailand 2016

Bangkok, as Murray Head says, "Oriental setting and the city don't know that the city is getting."

Originally a small village in the 1400s, it became the seat of power when the capital city of Ayutthaya was sacked in 1767 and the King moved the everything here. From its beginning as a trading post, Bangkok has an interesting history in a country with the distinction of never falling under the control of an European nation. It grew its own trade regionally until World War II.

After WW2, they city received major rebuilding investments from the USA and then after the Vietnam war ended, from Japan. Bangkok grew fast and chaotically (reflected by the traffic situations), and now is home to a huge banking and export industry as well as 10 million people, and yes... a crazy number of brothels, but it is so much more than that.

The Arrival

I flew into Suvarnabhumi Airport after connecting in Kuala Lumpur from Singapore. I found an old co-worker from Starwood Hotels was just leaving to Vietnam, and we had a quick meetup in the airline counter area. Once I left the airport, I got on the train to downtown, and then the monorail brought me close to my hotel, the JW Marriott on Sukhumvit Road.
Financial district, east of downtown The 2016 virus running around

Wandering

It was my first real trip to Asia and I was burning money like mad over the past 2 weeks, so I decided to walk up Sukhumvit to the Hard Rock for pins instead of a cab. Back in 2016, they used to have a night market along the sidewalks which were still crazy crowded long after the workday ended for the rest of the world.
New, Old, Knockoff, it's all here So crowded, I felt like I was in Blade Runner
Then it was back to the hotel for the night. It was so humid and hot in April.

The next day I took the subway to as close to the Royal Palace and major temples as you could during that time, and then walked to them. Along the way were multitudes of little shops catering to all kinds of needs. Each is very focused but this is how the local economy is set up, and it does work.
Old sewing machines still in major use.  Rugged is valued over the latest features Produce Tea
Mending, done right on the street while you wait if you want
Raise your own food, then you know what quality it is.  Some things can be suspect in food markets Traditional pharmacy
Very popular with the Chinese population
The temp was rising quite a bit, but I finally got to Wat Pho temple grounds, where people promptly tried to scam me with a tuk tuk ride.
Saranrom Royal Park, it's pretty nice Lots of Buddhas, but I could only take pictures of a few.  Rules
Respect the Bhuddha, I guess a lot were not
Then it was north over to the Royal Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, the temple on the palace grounds. I encountered scammers trying to sell fake admission tickets to the Palace at a non-real entrance.
Ceremonial guard.  The real ones were in barracks with machine guns by the entrance Sadly pictures are not allowed in a lot of the palace
Depictions of the battle that made Siam a major player
BIG temple buildings.  Proximity to the King helps, I am sure My favorite picture I have ever taken.  The paradox of ancient and modern just grabs me
After leaving the palace, I walked around the central park and along the river to some markets on Khaosan Road
Cooler by the water Massive river you never heard the name of.  Chao Phraya Yeah, markets can have just junk too
Then, while it was 102 degrees, it was time to walk back to the subway station of Hua Lamphong. I basically went from 7-eleven to 7-eleven buying a drink, finishing it, and hitting the next one, nonstop. I have not sweat so much since I was in the Army.
The democracy monument.  Not sure how relevant that is lately This temple is named Loha Prasat.  These street side temples are everywhere. I mean if I turned around and threw a rock, I'd hit another one too.  Not much different than the southern USA with their churches Got a moto?
A museum of the old prison complex which was, from what I hear, better than the new prisons

Summary

The scams run hot and heavy near the tourist spots. Just walk away, don't even engage. If someone comes up to you to start a conversation, 99.999% of the time it's a scam, don't feel bad.

Speaking of hot, yes, it's the tropics. You will sweat. It's not really walkable for most people, although the subway does get much closer to the temples and palace now via Sanam Chai stop. The main modern areas of the city are totally mass transit friendly, and they have to be. A cab will make you want to blow your brains out. The traffic does not clear for any man. It can take 20 minutes for 1 mile.

It was my first trip there, and I was pretty put off by the pervasiveness of the sex trade in the financial district. These are the best hotels in the city and the streets around them are, well, what you would expect from watching movies about Bangkok. Don't let that put you off (or if that's your thing I guess you've found it), there is so much more to Bangkok. Real night clubs, real nice bars and lounges with cheap drinks. 5 star hotels that know how to pamper guests at regular hotel prices here. Astounding shopping with only marginally horrible prices compared to USA for our goods. Markets that are actually the place to find used, or "3rd shift" items made during the off time in the real factories, or outright fake.

Several museums, and at least one really interesting one which I have documented and is related to this post below.



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