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Dreadlocks and Ladyboys

Bangkok, Thailand

Finally completing the intensive traveling (and jetlagged) part of my trip is a godsend, and being able to relax without having to necessarily go anywhere or do anything has been great. That being said, many interesting things have happened, from my Ringat-less, fraud-protected-credit-card scare, to a longboat/bike journey through the city, to excursions throughout the diverse megaplex of Bangkok.

I have seen more dreadlocks on white-people and more ladyboys in Bangkok than I have ever seen in my entire life. As a sprawling megaplex (I Like that word), Asia's #1 backpackers hotpoint, and the center of Thai Art, entertainment, and high-society, Bangkok is a youthful, exuberant city with something for everyone. It is a more dynamic city than I have ever seen, and on every street there are people struggling, living, cooking, caring, flirting, selling...everything.

Instantly the amount of Westerners, the cheapness, and the hip-ity of Khao San Road overwhelms most travelers as they sprawl out on the promenade, weaving the complex maze through tourists, shops, sellers, masseuses, and tuk-tuks. Khao San Road(above) is the first stop for travelers and the #1 backpackers hotpoint in the world. The amount of westerners in this area is overwhelming, and between the run-down bohemian style of the area, added to the warm scents, alternative bookstores, wacky t-shirts, hip hairdoos and casual strolling, you get a wonderfully wacky cross between Greenwich Village and Venice Beach, creating a dynamic entrepot of culture and life.
The cheapness of everything too is overwhelming, something giving way to a particularly different feeling of being a king or queen or such. 2hour massages for $12! Dinner for $2-5! Cool t-shirts and books for $5! Exchange rates are (once-again) wonderful.

Although Bangkok is cheap, their history and culture is as rich as gold. This golden Reclining Buddha, is the largest Buddha in the world in terms of length, and it is absolutely MASSIVE. It is hundreds of years old and part of the larger Wat Pho Temple complex, which includes hundreds more golden Buddhas, some of which contain the ashes of noblemen. The three great pillars pictured above are markers for the tombstones of three kings, and their is immaculate ornamentation, stone-work and gardens all throughout the temples acres of grounds.

Some particularly cool statues of lions I saw...

I must take my leave for dinner now, but I will post the 2nd post pertaining to Bangkok shortly, hope you enjoy!

permalink written by  JohnJack_Crestani on January 21, 2009 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: I Meet the SouthEast
tagged Buddha, Thailand, Bangkok, JackCrestani, Khaosan and Watpho

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Dreadlocks and Ladyboys (Bangkok Part 2)

Bangkok, Thailand

Through all the dazzle and glory of Bangkok's economy and culture lies massive amounts of pollution and Western influence. The photos above were taken from a longboat on Bangkoks main river, Chao Phraya. Los Angeles has nothing on this! The taste of pollution and raw sewage in many places are enough to give the average person headaches.

Although the boat tour through the city led us through some of the most pollution infested areas of town (Chinatown and industrial areas), once we got towards the suburbs of the city I was able to experience scenes, normal people living, that you would never get in the touristy and city areas. Interestingly (to me at least), the suburbs of Bangkok are surprisingly integrated in their mixtures of social classes, especially up against the model of US cities. Rich estates and their gardens reside next to farms, peasant shops and makeshift housing peacefully. An upper-class house averages around $200k, about half is the land. Their gardens sit right next to subsistence farmers, who live almost completely unaffected by modernity, and only sell meager amounts of their crop to the market if they have extra left over.
Riding my bike through the elevated sidewalks/roads which snake around the suburbs, kids would shout friendly 'Herro's to me, as I am guessing they don't often see white faces, something completely different from the city. Life is calm here, and not much seems to have changed over the centuries in these parts.

Western influence has affected full-force the high-society and upper/middle classes of Thailand, and although I am standing in front of a special walk for chinese new years, it is a part of a megamall that is perhaps the greatest symbol to Western influence in Thailand. Siam Paragon, a recently built megamall features multiple McDonalds, Dolce & Gabbana, Quiksilver, H&M etc, etc, etc. It is completely and absolutely indistinguishable (creepily so...) from a USA mall scene...except all the people are Asian. From flirtacious and gossiping teenagers, to desperate housewives, to young adults on dates at the movies, to prep students finished with school, and every other mall stereotype, it can be found here 5000 miles from Los Angeles.

This was the only place where I felt really awkward, like I didnt belong. My school group was not part of the actual makeup here, this was no tourist site, and they didn't specifically need our money. The art installations and center-mall galleries were absolutely stunning on a scale not seen in America. Hands down nicest, cleanest, richest mall I've ever been to...and I am in a 3rd world country. (Side-note: I actually walked into the mall during a Thai movie premier happening there which added to the feeling of being in my native Los Angeles, very glitzy)The one quite different aspect from American malls is the presence of many white-Thai couples here on dates.
The amount of prostitutes in Bangkok (in the downtown area near the nice hotels, not where the other backpackers and I were staying) is absolutely insane. Tens of thousands of women come from all over SE Asia to be sold for about $30 to Western customers coming from mainly around Europe, Australia, America and the Middle East. The amount of creepy old white men walking around with their Thai 'girlfriends' is stunning, mainly because it is such a common sight. Places like Starbucks, mid/high-end hotel lobbies (nice hotels are around $100-600/night) and street promenades are very populated by such dates. Although it is sad that women feel the need to sell their bodies, I feel it is also an equally bad problem that generations of men have been raised unable to successfully bed a woman, or achieve a happy relationship, that they must resort to a 3rd world country for a relationship.

Overall, Bangkok has been quite a trip, it is a fast-paced, multifaceted city full of delights, joys, beer, women, tourist attractions, culture, cheap goods, and something for anyone and everyone. I highly recommend a visit to Bangkok for all, it is an incredibly safe city (the laws protect foreigners more-so than the native Thai), and I never at once felt at unease.

At the same time, I am glad to be out of the smog, traffic, sellers and commercialism and out in the country now.

permalink written by  JohnJack_Crestani on January 25, 2009 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: I Meet the SouthEast
tagged Temple, Buddha, Thailand, Bangkok, Watpho and Dreadlocks

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Bangkok, Thailand

There is a lot of bad press out about Bangkok being a seedy town and it is, especially around the foreigner areas, but overall I thought it was more scenic than expected.
After arriving by a combination of taxi and train from Siem Reap we had a taxi take us to Kao San road (not sure if I spelled it right) and got a hotel.
We ended up getting some mediocre Thai food at a tourist restaurant on the strip and then turned in to watch some bad movies on our tv.
In the morning we headed out to the central post office to mail some souvenirs and gifts back home. We decided to take a river taxi since it was close by the river. This was the way to go, we ended up seeing alot of great Buddhist sites from the river.
For lunch we ate at a place recommended by Lonely Planet since it was closeby the post office at Naaz restaurant which had some decent Indian food.
We wanted to back to the area of our Hotel by the river since it was so scenic. We stopped off at the Royal Palace complex and went to a Buddhist temple called Wat Pho. Here was the most massive indoor Buddha I have seen in over a year in Asia. It was a reclining Buddha that was close to 30 ft high and probably over 50 yards in length. Rachel took a couple of great pictures.

There was a time crunch and it didn't look like we were going to have time to go to the Royal Palace or the museum before they closed down for the day. Were going to be headed back to Bangkok at the end of the trip so we'll have more time to explore then. We booked a cheap flight through Air Asia for a total of $80 for the 2 of us to get to Chang Mai. The next day we woke up and got ready to depart. We're here in Chang Mai now and are really enjoying it.


permalink written by  zachel on May 1, 2009 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: Zack and Rachel's Asian Chronicles
tagged Bangkok and Watpho

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Nu wirds aber knapp

Bangkok, Thailand

Ich muss mich kurz fassen: in 8, oh, nein, jetzt sind es nur noch 6 Minuten stürzen wir uns wieder in die Innenstadt von Bangkok. Wir wollen nämlich einen Kochkurs besuchen, der spontan von heute morgen um 9 auf in 40-6 Minuten verschoben wurde. Da wir aber schon wach Waren, haben wir den gewonnenen Morgen für eine Fußmassage genutzt. Und das bei den Meistern: an der Wat Pho Massage Schule. Der Tempel hat diese uralte Tradition vor dem Untergang bewahrt, viele Statuen auf dem Gelände zeugen davon. Aber nicht nur das hat der Tempel zu bieten: ein der größte goldene Buddha liegt hier. Er ist so groß, dass das schützende Haus wirklich auf einen cm außen-herum passt. Bilder gibts, wenn die Verbindung schnell genug ist.

So, die Zeit ist um: nun auf zum Kochlöffelschwingen!!

PS: hier ein paar Bilder!

permalink written by  MaxTheDay on October 4, 2012 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: MaTi in Südostasien
tagged Watpho, Massage and Kochen

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