Oh Bangkok baby…

30 Dec
Try to read that...

Try to read that...

So Thai Airways brought me safely to my first stop on my (hopefully) long Asia trip: Bangkok!

As soon as I got out of the plane, reality started kicking in. I was on the other side of the world!

  • The dream I had been dreaming of exotic temperatures came true – once OUTSIDE of the airport – because inside everywhere it is like a fridge because the airconditioning. It was 34 degrees, sunny, hot: a caress to the skin and soul.
  • The funny squiggles that make up the Thai alphabet did take my by suprise when getting my luggage. I of course knew that the Thai writing is different, but still, I had to blink my eyes a few times to find out which conveyor belt my suitcase would be arriving.
  • And then immigration started. Not just waving your passport briefly (or ID card for that matter) at the border guard. Nope, this was serious business: being ushered in different lines, by security guards that were wearing combat boots and trousers that were more tight than would be good for them (and for my concentration). Everybody had to fill in landing cards (that’s been a veeeeery long time since I had to do that – we’re so spoiled in Europe), smile at the camera and patiently wait for THE stamp.
Right means left in Thailand...

Right means left in Thailand...

And even though I had been in Thailand before (in 2003) it took quite some time before memories from ‘long’ time agao popped back into my head.

  • Already in the airport there were the signs on the escalators to ‘keep left‘, where I automatically would have thought it ‘had to‘ be ‘keep right’ (from my experience). And when I came out of the airport, indeed, my memory was refreshed that the cars do drive (generally) on the left in stead of the right (thanx to the British).
  • The road from the airport into town, and many of the express ways through the city are actually built up in the air. In the city centre I can understand that there was not any other place to put exxtra roads, but near the airport there was masses of space. So I guess it is fashion in Bangkok to build roads on top of each other? Well it does look veeery modern (and like a concrete jungle)…
  • And driving down to town, I noticed the coulours of the taxis. Some of them are bright fuschia (wow) or purple or firey red etc. The Thai seem to take their colours seriously! I love it! (quite a difference from the ugly cream taxis in Germany, or the boring black in Belgium). And yes, I instantly remembered when alighting from the airport bus in the city centre that taxis (and tuk tuks) do hunt the farang (white people, westerners) down.
Fuschia Taxis! This is MY country ;-)

Fuschia Taxis! This is MY country ;-)

Once I got to the hotel and checked in (after 10 hours flight, without much sleep, being 7am in the morning in Thailand) I just needed to go for a nap – I was seriously jet-lagging. I was so exhilarated that the sun was at the side of my room peeping through the window. So I snoozed off like a cat purring in the sun, till I woke up and felt like in a sauna, heavily loosing body fluids (sweat, I mean!). So my I cowardly abandoned my excitement about exotic temperatures and switched on the airconditioning. Airco does not only produce cold air, it also produces lots of noise (at least in the hotel where I stayed). My strategy of purring naked in the sun, changed to tucking myself in under the covers behind the curtains and stuffing my ears with ear plugs… Hm

  • Breakfast in the hotel was ‘Asian Style’ meaning ‘rice’ and all kinds of things that go with it. For my first morning in Thailand (and my last for a while as I’ll move on to Cambodia) I let it pass, and ordered eggs on toast instead. One has to build up gradually. I think I am not that kind of ‘rice-lover’, especially not in the morning…
  • And next to the toilets are the little shower heads, to shower the behind after doing your business ;-) It does save on trees, but who cleans the used water?? True true, I forgot about that.

When it comes to food, Bangkok (and Thailand) is a paradise. There’s heaps of it everywhere around. Thai people seem to live from meal to meal. At different times of the days different food stalls pop up or open and close next to the roads and streets. There’s anything from a motorcycle enhanced with a frying pan & fridge, to tables on the sidewalk and fancy food courts on the ground floors of the (many) malls. For my first meal I thought to go easy on my stomach – so I grabbed some Thai food in a food court (200 Baht = 5€ = expensive = veeeery spicey, but with yummy fresh herbs) – but I couldn’t resist the temptation to get some fried skewers (meat on a stick) from a nightly street vendor (50 Baht = 1,2€ = and soo yummy, a full meal).

  • Spirit temple to protect the house...

    Spirit temple to protect the house...

    When walking back from the town to my hotel (on the first night), I also passed the ‘night market‘ – the never-ending supplyof fake Gucci, Armani & Co purses, clothes, wallets, belts, and anything that a tourist would buy – and would definitely not need.

  • Except, I would need a wallet. Thinking that I would be on holidays and should not have my money in my back pocket as usual proved wrong. I would need all the more a wallet to fork out money for every taxi or tuktuk ride… And especially with the Dollar notes (which i didn’t use), the Euro backup money, the Thai baht and tomorrow the Cambodian money… Thank god for Euro ;-)
  • Apparently jeans and T-shirts also come cheaply at the night markets – so that’s the place to be to get some more clothes. Because the one pair of long trousers I took becomes already a bit too sticky after two days in the sun… (and I dont want to be wearing shorts in the city, not to look like a tourist… but whom am I fooling anyway?)
  • All this was nicely mixed with signs of Buddhism, such as the yellow and orange cloth decorations around the bodhi trees (under wich Buddha got his illumination), the little spirit temples in front of each house and business…
  • And to add a bit of international flavour, there was some christmas mixed into this all – Thai style – with christmas trees and lights in the most incredible colours and compositions… Ho ho ho…

Getting going in the gay life. Thailand is quite know for it’s open attitude towards gay people, and indeed there was plenty of kissing and frolicking going on in down town Bangkok. Maybe it was the area, but most of the Thai passers by didn’t seem to blink an eye. One thing I noticed though, is that the couples I noticed were mainly Thaiq + Farang (white). That somehow made me feel sleezy and thinking of the whole sex-tourism industry. But maybe there are just some Thai that are as interested in exotic Farang, as the other way around…

So far for the first impressions of Bangkok i- second impressions will have to wait another month till I’ll be back from Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos.

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One Response to “Oh Bangkok baby…”

  1. andre carens 30 December 2008 at 13:39 #

    hey Tony,
    Goed dat je -save and sound ‘met’ baggage bent aangekomen en je eerste ervaringen hebt opgedaan , grappig hoe je het allemaal verwoord ! Denk dat hier de ijstijd is aangebroken brrr -9°C in Antwerpen. Hebben een nieuwe regering met H.Van Rompuy als eerste minister, maar dat zal jou een worst wezen .. lol . Voor de rest niks nieuws uit La belgique !
    ciao, Andre

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