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The Temples of Bangkok

THAILAND | Monday, 5 January 2009 | Views [1180]

I mostly came to bangkok to visit with two college friends. Ironically, I only saw one of my closest friends from school, Rolondo, who was on my hall freshman year, and was also a physics major, once. But I got to spend a lot of time with Paul, who was also a physics major , who I really did not know all that well at school. Also, for some reason, they didnt know each other.
 
As I arrived in Bangkok, I played Rush's "A Passage to Bangkok" which confirmed all my exotic images of the city. Instead I found a partial modern hectic asian city, and a partial old city. Where wealth and poverity were side by side.
 
Anyway, Paul, who is in Thailand as a Christian Missonary showed me around the city. One day we went to see the three great temples along the river. The grand palace at the emerald buddha, which was cool, but you could not take photos from inside the temple. Wat Po had a reclining buddha, and lots of other stuff and was also great. And across the river was Wat Arun, which had a nice climb to the top and great views and well as cool reliefs.
 
Another day, I took an organized trip up to the old capital of aruthya and saw a few more temples (some great stuppas!) and the King's (from The King and I) country residence and grounds, including lots of interesting and pretty chinese style buildings. The trip was not great since we only had 45 minutes or less at each stop and these places required a bit more time. Also, the boat trip back to Bangkok was boring. I did run into some LA area bridge players who played bridge on the boat all the way back.
 
But the real temples in Bangkok were not these old temples. In bangkok the metro only goes to the new temples and not the historical temples, and by that I mean the shopping malls. Each year a new one opens, better than the last. I got to see Paragon Mall, with its pourche and mazerati dealerships on the 2nd floor. Paul and I paid $15 to see a movie in the special movie theater, which reclining lounger chairs and only 40 seats for a big screen and modern sound system (normal modern screen theaters are $3/movie). They also had a lounge with free drinks and a massaging chair that you can use before the movie. Now that was cool.
 
Finally, I bought a suit. Actually 2. For some reason, I didn't like the first one that much (the material itched), so I bought another one with a different material. I don't really need 2 suits, but thats the thing to do in Bangkok.
 
Finally, I met up with Rolando for lunch. He is finishing up his MBA, after finally discovering his PhD in comparative literature had negative economic value. It was great to see him :)
 
Later, after picking up my new suits and shipping them home, Paul took me to the "old town (Kao San Rd), with some signs there in hebrew and lots of places to eat, and then
 to see the "nightlife" in Bangkok, much of it now family friendly. When you go to Patpong, there is a streetside market where the women can shop while the men go back into the go-go clubs. I don't know what is funnier, the scene I saw there (including a go-go club next to a mission), or being taken there by a missionary! We also went to Soi Cowboy, which seemed a bit nicer, but maybe I just like those scantily clad women wearing the ten gallen hats.
 
My last day in Bangkok I went to the famous weekend market, where prices were even better than on the streets in chaing mai, but I was shopped out. I did run into Tom and Aich (Tom was from my cooking class in Laos) and chatted with them for a while. Hopefully, I will see them in Melbourne.
 
I had a great time in Bangkok. It was not dirty and smelly like people kept telling me. But just seemed like a good place to live and I had a really nice time hanging out with Paul. Though, it definitely feels like Buddhism got run over by Capitalism...

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