Bangkok Shock

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by Tim Burdick on 25 November, 2014

Bangkok Shock

Before I got off the plane last Friday, I could think of only one sentence about the capital city of Thailand. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t form a second one.

I imagined that I was visiting a grim city full of half-starved people in paper shacks and their naked children playing in dirty puddles on the streets. Wild dog packs roamed and fought over food. Street gangs and prostitutes were on every street corner. But this picture shows my ignorance about Asian culture. Or I watched a lot of bad war movies.

I was there for three days.
I am still in shock.

It is a tolerant friendly culture. People were always ready to point you in the right direction even if they couldn’t speak English. Hindus and Muslims live together. It also has a delicious food culture. Couples ate Pad Thai, sharing a Chang beer at restaurants or buying from street vendors.

Huge sky rise complexes loom over the above ground walkways (the BTS). The streets are alive with pedestrians, students, back packers, all travelling by the rail line, metro, or motorized scooter, the Tuk-Tuk. If you want really cheap, you can take the boats up and down the rivers.

Gigantic shopping malls are full of every imaginable good. In the cinema, they play the king’s anthem and the people stand to pay their respects. I am not sure if this was a holiday tradition or a royalty thing.

It is a city of temples, full of Golden Buddhas.

It has parks, filthy alleys, balconies covered in laundry drying in the sun.

It is a city full of life and contradictions: new and ancient, shiny and dirty, spicy and mild, expensive and cheap. The list goes on forever.

Thai people always welcome you with a smile, no matter whether you are American, German, or Japanese.
And I can't wait to return.

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