On our first Asian journey, we traveled north along Thailand’s west coast and made a local cruise of Halong Bay, north of Phuket. This region was highlighted by beautiful beaches and smallish resort communities, interspersed with rice and tropical fruit plantations. Bangkok, the other main tourist destination in Thailand, could not be more of a contrast.
The airport provided the first glimpses that Thailand is different from most of its neighbors… While presenting a Chinese- style facade, it’s language is distinct, and the modernistic style and services were vastly different than its Southeast Asian neighbors (with the exception of Malaysia). The next indicator that we were no longer in SE Asian Kansas was our ride into the city… While the traffic and use of shoulders as supplemental driving lanes reminded me of India, our driver navigated it in a brand new Mercedes. Continued progress into the city suggested a much higher general standard of living…Most of the residential buildings seemed to be air conditioned, and unlike Myanmar, have elevators or shorter numbers of flights. As we began to enter city center, the tuk-tuks made an appearance, as well as a higher proportion of motor scooters. But unlike Cambodia, most riders were solo, rather than trying to transport two or more people. And unlike India, the tuk-tuks were shiny, well appointed, and looked like you had a better-than-average chance of surviving the trip.
The skyline of Bangkok appeared modern with attempted modern architecture… The building that really stood out was a skyscraper with jagged, missing sections that made it look like an oversized Jenga game…Take one more section out and the whole building would topple to the street. I’m not sure why someone in Dubai didn’t think of this first !!!
Lets talk Thailand weather… There are three official seasons: Winter, which is occurring now with mid 90s and 60% humidity, summer, which, I guess, gets hotter, and the monsoon season, which begins in May. The northern half of the country is fed by the Chao Phraya River, which flows south to Bangkok and then into the Gulf of Thailand. The northern headwaters flow out of significant mountainous terrain into a flatter basin, which evidently makes for terrific rice terraces. While the roads seemed clogged most of the time, the river is the other important transportation system. Our hotel is right on the river and we will take boat taxis tomorrow to see the sights.
And what sights will we be visiting? I can tell you that it won’t be Bangkok’s infamous sex bars !!!! I’m keeping Mrs Bear…after 45 years, she is just learning to understand and tolerate me… On a serious note, a fantastic life companion far outweighs any temporary feelings of impersonal sexual combustability.
So tomorrow, we will visit Bangkok’s other main attraction: its spectacular temples… One more pic of the local river transportation: