Thursday, 6 August 2009

Bangkok, Thailand

When I first visited Bangkok back in 1994, it was a sprawling, congested, polluted city where tuk tuks seemed to outnumber people as they spewed fumes across pot holed streets. Today the pollution and infrastructure is much improved and shiny new taxis now outnumber the tuk tuks but a general sense of traffic chaos persists.

For such a large city, it's bizarre that much of the budget tourist accommodation is condensed around 4 small square blocks centred around
Khaosan Road. With the diverse mix of nationalities walking the streets here, one could easily forget you were in Asia as at first glance, it's more of an Amsterdam cosmopolitan feel.

Most of the cheapest flights into and out of South East Asia start / stop here so it's backpacker central with a mix of pasty white people (many Irish) who obviously have never left home before and seasoned travelers eager to escape onto less crowded pastures. It's a party town and as you eat breakfast at 8am there are plenty of folks only getting home after a hard night of 'entertainment' and looking worse for wear.

Check bottom left of photo below!

It's a shoppers paradise with massive street markets and shopping malls (like the huge MBK mall) selling a mixture of high end legitimate wares and fake brands at bargain prices. Pirated and fake goods include clothes, electronics, software and documents (see below)

Fake id's made to order

The other big draw here, as with many other parts of Thailand is SEX. The famous nightlife district of Patpong has everything from titty bars to ping pong shows where talented ladies project missiles such as ping pong balls, darts and bananas from certain orifices as crowds of onlookers cheer. Beware the scams in this district too as many people have reported being ripped off with extortionate drink bills of up to u$d500 where the bouncers descend like vultures to make sure you pay up. The local police are paid off so forget about getting 'justice'.

The ladies of the night at Patpong

There are redeeming qualities to the city however, as a plethora of temples and palaces and museums more than make up for tacky, seedy side of the city. Like it or loathe it, I can honestly say there is nowhere else quite like
Bangkok. More Photos below.

The trip so far - Click to enlarge

Tags: .Bangkok, Thailand, Khaosan Road, Khao San Road Rd, MBK shopping mall center centre, ..

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nick August 07, 2009 5:03 pm  

That strange mixture of utter seediness and debauchery and high-minded religious morality that marks so many cities, I guess. I love the totally blatant advertising of forged documents. You couldn't pick me up some fake Aussie ID, by any chance? Just in case I decide to retire to the sunshine.

Baino August 07, 2009 8:01 pm  

It's been years since I've been there but remember it well. Of course I avoided the seedy side and did the temple, floating market thingy. There used to be fantastic Saturday markets there as well. I think I read somewhere that a Japanese couple had received an apology and an invitation back after being severely ripped off for a meal.

Megan August 07, 2009 10:53 pm  

Wow Paddy you've been busy since I was here last. I think tomorrow I'll take some time to come back and check out all your photos and the prior legs of this trip. Fascinating stuff!

TCL August 08, 2009 12:54 am  

And really fantastic food for really cheap. There is a lot to like about Bangkok. But for me in Thailand there still is nothing that beats a deserted beach in the middle of nowhere.

Xbox4NappyRash August 08, 2009 3:52 am  

I've actually had it up to my eyeballs in seediness, and I never thought I'd say that.

I am curious about the 'super' pussy though.

Quickroute August 08, 2009 10:56 am  

@ Nick: They can copy anything here and have had that rep for a long time but apparently the big corporations are lobbying pressure

@ Baino: I doubt that refund policy exists anymore but it would be great if it did. You didn't miss much giving the seedy side a miss.

@ Megan: Your welcome back whenever you want

@ TCL: The food is great and cheap as you said but I'm with you on escaping to a quiet corner

@ Xbox: Well I was going to say I suppose you live in seedy central or close to but then I know most locals in your neck of the woods steer clear of the window shopping red light district

Xbox4NappyRash August 08, 2009 11:07 am  

Normally yeah you wouldn't really go near the place, but if you have visitors over there's always the usual trek through the place.

Was amusing and a novelty the first 400 times.

Quickroute August 08, 2009 11:13 am  

@ Xbox: I went many moons ago with a bunch of mates and we ended up in some dodgy show called 'Moulin Rouge' - still have the ticket stub...yes I'm a 'whore-der'

Xbox4NappyRash August 08, 2009 11:14 am  

I know the one.

I went into one on the same stretch, and I can honestly say I have never eaten a banana since.

Stevo August 08, 2009 4:04 pm  

You summed it up well. I loathe Bangkok. An hour on Khao San Road is like a season in hell. Perhaps if I had visited Patpong I'd have a different opinion. (Shenzhen has a similar but smaller, tamer, area.)

Chiang Mai, is another story.

Quickroute August 08, 2009 11:42 pm  

@ Xbox: I try and avoid candles meself

@ Stevo: I'll be heading to Shenzhen in the near future once my multiple entry (no sleazy interpretations pls0 visa is sorted

wandermom August 10, 2009 5:17 pm  

Hey up!
Glad to see you've got your blogging rhythm back. I'm eagerly reading your posts on SE Asia since I've never been.
Keep 'em coming.

Quickroute August 11, 2009 4:45 am  

@ Wandermom: Thanks - trip is winding up but more to come

Broke But Still Drinking August 11, 2009 1:44 pm  

I like the sign. I wish I had one to hang in front of my friend's apt because he's a big pussy.

Stevo August 15, 2009 8:06 am  

Funny, Paddy - Once I get my Chinese visa gets sorted I'll start coming to Hong Kong again.

If you get over here we'll go for a nip or two in Shekou.

Quickroute August 16, 2009 7:36 am  

@ Broke: Feel free to borrow it

@ Stevo: Sounds good - I'll hold you to that

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