Impressions of Bangkok or How Bangkok is Completely Different From Africa

First thing, and this hits you as soon as you step out of the airport, is the humidity. Completely draining. Africa may be hot (although we found this reputation overstated) but its typically a drier heat. Bangkok is something else entirely. And this from people who have handled the heat and humidity of Houston and D.C.

Then, the taxi drivers form a line next to the public taxi fare counter to wait for their fare. The civility and orderliness of it all is a bit shocking (not necessarily to continue!).

The room when we check in is immaculate, complete with free wifi internet, cable TV with bazillions of channels and hot water on demand. No further comment, its just much more than we’ve come accustomed to living with and makes us feel like we’ve just checked into a five star hotel (no, we didn’t splurge).

The food is completely as advertised, though some of the street places cut corners. We devour pad thai and a green curry with thai iced tea and a mango shake at a local restaurant. This only gets better as the days go by and we discover where to get the best food. Not to mention how little it all costs, less than a dollar a plate usually, maybe two at a real restaurant.

The variety of street food is completely overwhelming, and at times, a bit disturbing. The dried squids and various entrails piled up for sale definitely have me quickening my step.

The prevalence of fresh squeezed juices, shakes and teas (iced or hot) for a song is a welcome change from our previous world where the cheapest beverages were coke and beer.

The hordes of Western tourists in Khao San are intimidating, and guys lacking shirts are a bit too common. Its not really our scene, as we didn’t come to Asia to buy hemp jewelry or knockoff threadless tshirts or watch endless showings of movies.

The streets are incredibly lively at almost all hours and the city is so lit up it almost seems to get brighter after the sun goes down.

A 48 meter long golden reclining Buddha is a very impressive thing to see. Especially when his feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl iconography.

So is the rest of the temple complex the built around it. I love the color and imagery used in the buildings.

We’ll see how accustomed to all of this we’ve become after four more months. For now, we’ll just enjoy.

8 Replies to “Impressions of Bangkok or How Bangkok is Completely Different From Africa”

  1. Where will you be heading next? If you like islands, I recommend you head to Ko Samet for a few days. It’s a lot smaller and less crowded (and a bit cheaper) than Ko Samui. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about Thailand.

  2. I can almost feel the change of tone in this post after you headed to Thailand. I think its a tremendous change between Africa and east Asia what a world of change, too divers cultures. But the way you described it really portrays the difference.
    Looking forward to read more of your adventures.. enjoy Thailand!

  3. Jeff,

    Is it the camera angle or have you lost 20 pounds?!? You can get some of that back in Thailand. One more recommendation. Do not eat the beef. Just personal experience…didn’t work out so wel for me. Enjoy, guys. Theresa, you look as great as ever.


  4. Southeast Asia is so, so, so different from Africa. To be honest, I’m missing Africa, which I really, really loved. Aside from the hassles referenced in the border crossing post, Asia feels almost too easy. There’s such a well-beaten tourist track, and it’s almost difficult to find places that don’t tame down their food for tourists, provide AC and wi-fi, or play Western movies and TV 24/7, etc. I know that’s an unfair judgment as we’ve really only been in Bangkok and Siem Reap, which are major tourist towns, and that things will change as we dive in deeper. I’m not a masochist really, but I like travel when it’s a bit more difficult, a bit more authentic. So tomorrow we’re planning to bust out of Siem Reap and take the boat to Battambang, from where we hope to hop into the villages and see “real” Cambodia. I’m sure I’ll be mourning the loss of little comforts soon enough.

  5. my home….ahhh so lovely. I don’t know your SEA travel plans but shoot me an e-mail with a general idea and i’ll tell you some cool places to go and see.

    When in cambodia, if you want to see rural cambodia, head north! you’ll find no comforts at all!

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