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Monday, May 4, 2009

Eight Days in Bangkok

It's hard to believe how easy it was to spend eight days in Bangkok. OK, we did spend some time running errands (sorting Australian bank stuff, etc) but mostly we were enjoying the city life-- shopping, hopping around town on public transit (something there wasn't much of in Vietnam), just taking in the action in the biggest city we've been in in ages. It's funny to think that on our first visit, we barely lasted 4 days before we were dying to leave. All we can figure was it was too much culture shock, a fear of spending too much money, and maybe spending too much time in the neon-light, "very strong cocktails", dreadlocked hippie tourist circus around Khao San Road.

This time we took a few days venturing into the thriving Siam Square area, the ultra-modern area in the centre of the city, full of megamalls and skyscrapers. We spent a whole day wandering the seven floors of the MBK Centre, a mall full of trendy Bangkok teenagers, with an entire floor devoted to all things mobile phone (we got utterly lost there and will never return to "cell phone purgatory" if we can help it). But what other downtown shopping mall can you arrive at by taking a riverboat past old temples and then a monorail between modern towers? The journey's half the fun! On our first visit to Thailand, coming from Canada, finding chain restaurants like Pizza Hut and A&W would not have thrilled us-- but after two months in Vietnam (where the only chain eatery is "Ga Ran Kentucky", or KFC) it was a real treat to have a DQ ice cream, a Starbucks frappuccino, a Pizza Hut pizza, and an A&W root beer. Maybe we're just too North American!

We finally visited the Grand Palace-- which was very grand and beautfiul. It was incredibly hot though and hard to really enjoy wandering the grounds, and despite our tries to dress the "proper" way this time (we failed twice last time!) we were still forced to wear the prescribed hospital-style pants (Adrian) and Thai silk wrap-around long skirt (Dayle) to tour the place, since our shorts were just not long enough!

And the best thing about Bangkok: Chatuchak Market. It's got to be one of the biggest markets ever-- our Lonely Planet says it has 15,000 stalls-- and only runs on Saturday and Sunday. It's a madhouse of people in a shopping frenzy; if you hate crowds, it's not a good place to be. You can buy just about anything there: clothing, paintings, furniture, used books, garden supplies, ladyboys (well, that's a guess), even pets. In fact, pet squirrels were all the rage when we were there, and some were even dressed up in little t-shirts. The puppies and the kittens were unbelievably cute too, and if you were the proud owner of a cute pet, you'd best bring it to the market to show it off. We were blown away by all the cool fashion shops and cool t-shirts galore- it's all a real fashion show, and in the three days we went to Chatuchak, we spent so much time browsing and people-watching we hardly bought a thing. Good fun though!

We've found the key to really enjoying Bangkok (besides shopping your heart out!) is just to sit back and enjoy the show. Check out our pics from the last few weeks in Vietnam til Bangkok-- we went on a little uploading spree a few days ago. Enjoy!

3 comments:

pauline said...

OMG squirrel in tee shirts?! wants!!

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