So, continuing our look back at 2018, we now move on to Bangkok in Thailand. Having spent some time in Kolkata, we flew with our daughter to the city centre…..and what a culture shock that was after India. If I was to use one word to sum up the centre of Bangkok, it would be ‘opulent’!
The picture above may seem a strange one to start this post with but I put it up simply because I like it 🙂 ! I called it, ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’ 🙂 and it was taken in one of the malls.
The malls were pristine and up-market, one even selling such things as Rolls Royces, Maseratis and other high spec cars from the fourth floor! Interestingly, one of the things I noticed straight away was the highly polished floors…..but I always did notice odd things.
They were also very busy with lots of tourists because this is definitely a show case for visitors, a kind of veneer that hides the deprivation that still exists.
There were also equally opulent and pristine galleries. The one above had mainly photographs rather than paintings when we visited, although the building itself was worth visiting in any event.
The opulence is not just present day because the temples and the Grand Palace probably outshone the malls with an unbelievable amount of gold.
The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho Temple is famous……and huge – you can get some sense of scale from the people that I included in the above picture. It was the first of many such statues. There are also many smaller temples and we visited one with a somewhat gruesome relic…..
This once gilded body of a monk still lays in its display case.
As with any city centre of course, transport can be a problem with traffic jams at busy times…..which seemed to be always 🙂 ! We didn’t really need to go by road anywhere so it didn’t affect us too much, although we did take a ride in a tuk-tuk – well you have to really don’t you. Similar to the auto-rickshaws of Kolkata, these are aimed firmly at the tourist so are more expensive to ride.
Our main way of getting round the city was the metro – very clean, air-conditioned and with covered windows to keep the sun out…..and of course to satisfy creative photographers like me 🙂 !
Naturally, when in Thailand, you have to visit one of the floating markets which is an experience in itself. We went to the market at Taling Chan which isn’t the largest floating market – I have to say that, much to my surprise, I enjoyed the food. We chose this market because it was more culturally real where the main markets have become touristy.
It wasn’t the only market we visited because we also went to the Chatuchack Weekend Market which is the largest of its kind in the world with some 15,000 stalls and 200,000 to 300,000 visitors each day. It was busy, in fact, too busy to get any decent pictures.
I said at the beginning of this post that there was a stark contrast between Kolkata and Bangkok. In terms of summarising the differences, I can do no better than quote from my journal which I wrote up on the evening of our first day in the city.
‘I think the feature of this day was the stark contrast between Kolkata and Bangkok. The latter is so much more touristy, opulent (although this tends to be a touristy veneer), and westernised. I think one of the strong contrasts was the amount of flesh on show in the malls after the cover-up policy of Indian culture. The city was busy, bustling and vibrant but in a different way to Kolkata. It was much more sanitised and less real than Kolkata, at least in the centre where we were staying. Everything seemed to be much more together, cleaner, more modern, with better communications by road and rail…..and so much more commercial.’
Before we left home, we had expected to prefer Bangkok, but it was very much the other way round. I have no desire to return, although there are probably other parts of Thailand that would be more ‘up my street’! I am a simple soul with a dislike of commercial ‘trappings’, preferring to experience real life rather than the facade put up to attract wealthy visitors.
Sorry, this has turned out to be a longer post that I had intended, partly because I realise I have never posted any of my Thailand pictures before. Nevertheless, it is still just a very brief glimpse of our trip to Bangkok and I could put up many more posts.
Normal service will be resumed tomorrow when we return to the UK for the next highlight of 2018.
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
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