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Bangkok City, Same Same but Different

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All hail Bangkok, fresh off the flight from Amman and a mega-hotel under the name of ‘Please You Hotel & Massage’ offered me an unsettlingly high nightly rate for a man who was just planning on getting some shut eye, but as Mr. Chow so famously put it … ‘Holla City of Squala!’ I met Bangkok half way and took a prostitute-free room and made up for my lack of commitment to the cause by getting just a little bit drunk.

Where other than Khao San Road, described in the ever so handsome Leo Di Caprio’s movie ‘The Beach’ as ‘’the centre of the backpacking universe’’ and I can’t argue with that, the air is pungent with sweaty 20 something’s leaking cheap ‘Whiskey’ from every pore, but on the back drop of Khao San Road this jut feels kinda … right.

My night out went well, and by that I mean I made it home. The road is about a kilometer long and was quite obviously formed when some ultimate being filled one giant hand with cheap hostels, massage parlors, market stalls and restaurants, and the other a fistful of tattoo parlors, nightclubs, strip clubs and travel agents, then he … or she … smashed those hands together and wiped them all the way down Khao San … voila!

The nightlife isn’t always such a mess, a visit to Skybar gives you a shockingly beautiful view of Bangkok through panoramic windows as you sample cocktails on the 63rd floor of the State Tower, it may be a little more pricey than the market stall beer buckets but it’s an experience to log. Another great place to go at night, for those who aren’t looking to get totally wasted each and every minute, is the Patpong Night Market in the Silom neighborhood, take your time browsing $30 ‘original copy’ ‘same same but different’Rolex watches, sample barely legal and possibly fake animal parts displayed out in the open for the world to see and if you really want to dip into the unknown treat yourself to a ping pong show where ladies of the night fire pins and blow whistles with their genitals … or don’t treat yourself to this, it’s your call really.

So here’s an interesting fact; Bangkok isn’t necessarily called Bangkok at all. The city is known to the Thai people as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, but you can try and memorize it’s full ceremonial name; Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit … yeah. Want a translation for that, here goes; City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s behest.

The city itself presents a fascinating juxtaposition between struggling-to-survive market stalls alongside gold lines exquisite Buddhist Temples, boasting world famous architecture each temple impressed ore than the last keeping you staring up at the beautiful craftsmanship and not looking where you are walking, this is not a good idea in Thailand and especially Bangkok. The traffic is quite simply insane, the lax rules and death wish drivers weave in and amongst one another barely clearing motorcyclists who weave their own tighter nit web amongst the vehicles. You may notice that a lot of motorcycles are not only a little overloaded.. ahem … you can spot a family of seven bomb by on one bike, but also the drivers age can often be slightly dubious, a point that if often proven when five small girls in school uniform cut you off when you are trying to cross the road.

Aside from the countless Fish Spa’s that offer a thorough minnow dead skin cleanse and the Massage parlours that often offer a series of services, Bangkok has as much to offer in daylight as it does through the night.

Check out the Chatuchak Market, said to be Thailand’s largest weekend market this goliath event draws over 8000 street vendors and covers up to 35 aces. Almoat anything is on offer from hand made crafts to mas produced silk tablecloths (Thai people love silk) and a multitude of fruit and veg spilling out from all sides as you try and find your way through the labyrinth.

You can also partake in a boat ride down Chao Phraya, the river is a home to the entire spectrum of living. Close to collapse small village huts sit precariously on the riverbank neighbored by five star luxury hotels booked months in advance, the river yours are also popular and an early start is recommended. Don’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to the tug boats, what may look like a struggling wooden wreck has a powerful engine and a team that can fix the vessel as it moves. Such a fast growing city with so little urban planning and housing regulation has developed a somewhat haphazard cityscape riddled with problems often described in Thailand as ‘No problem’, but no matter how stubbornly you ignore it the inane congestion can get on anyone’s nerves, the development of the Expressway Network was a quick fix but it’s pros were soon submerged in the ever growing tide of private vehicles and tourists taking a taxi all to themselves to a destination several are heading.

I keep mentioning how fast Bangkok has been growing but not how big it is already! With a population of over 8 million, which works out at 12.6% of Thailands entire population, and another 14 million have set up homes in areas surrounding Bangkok (if you were curious that’s 22.2%) covering over 600 square miles of what was once farmland for the small town of City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s behest … I just had to say that one again, an amazing place with an amazing name, but you can call it Bangkok.

Content Courtesy- www.traveleze.co.uk

 

 

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Travel Writer TraveleZe
Jack Van Toorn, International Travel Writer and Guide Editor, currently Island Hopping from Thailand to Micronesia.

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