Recently, I have visited a number of cities in South East Asia and this partly explain my absence from this blog.
I have been to Bangkok years ago, and the Bangkok that I knew then was not a terribly modern cities. Many things have changed over the years. There is a new airport, there are more viaducts and tolled highways to relieve traffic congestions, newer shopping centres have sprung in many places, and there are also underground metros as well as elevated light rail system.
I arrived in Bangkok via a Tiger Airways flight from Singapore. The new airport is pleasant and seems efficient enough. There is also a airport rail link that allow visitors to connect to the Bangkok metros and avoid congestion during the heavy traffic hours. The airport link seemed rather isolated, and there are not too many users though. Also there does not seem to be a link between the stations that allow commuters to conveniently walk to the metro trains once they alighted from the airport train. Instead I had to walk about 250 metres to the connecting metro train station. Passengers with heavy luggage will have problems, and therefore it is not surprising that most arriving passengers prefer to take the taxis at the airport.
Bangkok is still the stuffy humid Bangkok, where street pedlars and food hawkers are found everywhere, peddling in front of old shops, new buildings, along the narrow street lanes. And beggars are common sight too. It anguished me to see a poor country women begging on side walks with their scrawny kids. In the touristry Sukhumvit district, people from all over the world are found there. One can find lots of single lonely Western males of all shape, size and age congregating here, searching for prospective Thai partners. Thus mixed race couples, of mostly middle aged or elderly Western men with younger Thai women is common, as common as the massage parlours along the streets and sols of Sumkumvit.
Yaowarat is a commercial hub that is also known as Chinatown. Taxi is the best mean to travel there. There are still many traditional Chinese foods being served there that are hard to find in other part of South East Asia and China.
Food is not bad, but nothing special as far I’m concerned. It is also not that cheap when compared to those in Malaysia, though beer is much cheaper. A small bottle of Singha beer during happy hours in a Sukhumvit bar would cost around $2 to $3 dollar. A plate of Pad Thai in a small restaurant would cost about $2 or more.
On the whole though, I find that Bangkok remains almost essentially the same, despite the addition of newer amenities. Somehow, Bangkok city has failed to impress me again or rather the Bangkok charms failed on me. There are just too many reasons as to why I feel unsettled in the city known as City of Angels. And I’m not sure when I’ll visit again.