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Bangkok - you love it or hate it. We certainly don't love it. But in full fairness to the city, we should say that we have only been here for three days, and that's of course much too short to judge a city, especially when you are "just a tourist". But one is "just a tourist" everywhere except in one's hometown, and having seen a lot of cities this one is definitely our top pick for a "no go".

Unless, of course, you like: pollution, traffic jam, sex tourism, noise, dirt, ugly smells, touts ("hey you where you go?"). Clearly, every city has its share of the just mentioned annoyances, but take each one at its maximum level, put them all together, and you got Bangkok. Arguably, the food is quite good and the people are generally friendly, but again, unless you live at McDonalds road in Kentucky, that's true of almost anywhere in the world.

Even the Lonely Planet, who is usually quite good at pointing out the many nice things about any place, babbles something about an "ultramodern backdrop of skyscrapers canyons"... pfft! I have yet to see a single skyscraper that doesn't make me feel like I am watching "The streets of San Francisco" in the 70ies. The pollution is horrible, but some people are quick at pointing out that the air quality is better than in Beijing - a small comfort since Beijing has the strongest air pollution in the world and might even have to "postpone" some of its Olympic events.

For the culturally interested, Bangkok offers dozens of temples and palaces, but most places are incredibly crowded. One of the highlights of our daytrip today was to see the giant reclining Buddha, a 46m long and 15m high golden Buddha statue with a beautiful smile.

Like in every Buddha temple, you had to take off your shoes, but you also had to take care where you put them:


Often, non-thais were only allowed to go through specially designated "foreigners" doors. A slight but sad trace of racism that we have never encountered anywhere in the past few months.

On the funny side of things, we went to the cinema yesterday - cinemas are extremely comfortable in Bangkok. We watched Ratatouille from Pixar and warmly recommend it to anyone who loves movies like Monsters Inc. It's a story about a cooking rat in Paris. There's a short movie right before the real movie about an attempted alien abduction - we haven't laughed so hard in ages. Surprisingly, the thai national anthem is played before every show, and everyone has to stand up. A new cinematic experience for us!


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 11, 2007 1:20 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Fasting in Thailand.

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