Oh dear, it is not looking good for my arrival into SouthEast Asia. In T-minus 12 days I am embarking on the adventure which shall now be known as Mission Please-let-this-go-ok-so-that-I-can-pass-my-Masters-degree. And my initial arrival destination Bangkok, supposedly City of Angels is now a city of hell as protesters have taken over the streets for the last 6 weeks. It is now turning a little violent in places with live ammunition being used and a rather central location of the protest.With rising tensions and apparent political deadlock the future does not look good.
I have been to Bangkok several times and I know exactly where they are – it’s too central for a tourist to feel comfortable.
They were protesting last time I was in Thailand (between November 2008 and March 2009) but they kept to the Government buildings and the democracy monument (except the one airport takeover, but I was in Chiang Mai then). I would never have known they were there and it certainly did not impact my touristic wanderings around the city.
Now, I fear it is a lot worse. And I have to admit I am disappointed.
Bangkok is one of the those love/hate places. With its overbearing heat and humidity coupled with the choking pollution. Travelling by car is nigh impossible on the heavily congested roads unless you pay to use the elevated highways. The pavements are a health and safety hazard and require extra caution when wearing flip flops (travellers staple).
But, the Skytrain is wonderfully efficient and comfortable, so much so that I drifted off into a happy daydream forgot to change at Siam and ended up at completely the wrong end of town. The ticket guard gave me rather suspicious looks when I walked off the train, released my mistake and shuffled back on.
The enormous array of hawkers stalls are wonderful – you can’t walk more than 10 metres without there being another contraption on wheels garnering something delicious all for the price of notverymuch. The food is delicious almost anywhere you go.
There are excellent tourist attractions from the stunning Wat Arun to the baffling large Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. There is the sublime Jim Thompson’s House home to the most beautiful artifacts from around South East Asia. The impressive Siam centre where several large shopping centres are clustered and bustling with consumer promise to meet your every need, including my favourite – the MBK. The list goes on….
I fear that my experience of Bangkok this time around will be restricted to the inside of airport, the inside of a taxi and then the inside of the train station but I doubt this will be the last time I cross paths with the City of Angels.