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Taking the road less traveled Spending a year in five continents to embrace my "inner turtle", to live simply, and to avoid being shark bait!

Two nights in Bangkok

THAILAND | Sunday, 19 February 2012 | Views [359]

Kite flying during dusk

Kite flying during dusk

My first gap program is a month in Koh Tao, Thailand to learn scuba diving, which will prepare me for the volunteer programs in Africa and South America. I spent a weekend in Bangkok before departing for Koh Tao. Bangkok was where I went on my very first trip as a child, so I don't have much memory of the city. I was expecting it to be hot, stuffy, crowded, and maddening, and I was right! After 2 days I was eager to leave, but I made the best of it anyway.

I spent Saturday seeing the main tourist sites: Wat Pho, Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaeo, etc. I walked around those neighborhoods and sweated up a storm, could it be any hotter and stickier??  I liked taking the ferry to get around, but shied away from the bus, didn't look very appealing. There's a subway (MRT) and another metro-like train called the Skytrain, yet neither system goes to the older tourist neighborhoods (where my hotel was), so I walked almost 30 minutes to the first top of Skytrain to a night market for yummy street food (noodles, pan-fried mussels, mango with sticky rice, etc.)  Sunday was more walking to see Golden Mountain, Parliament Building, Riverside, and Chinatown, even managed to find good Thai iced tea. 

At dusk on Sunday, I walked across a huge lawn back to the hotel; just the day before, the lawn was empty, but as the weather cools during sunset, families hung out and flew kites. I hardly see kites flown anymore, it was such a treat! Better yet, it was so great to see families talking and enjoying time together.  Most of the time, I see families gather around for a meal at a restaurant, but each member is tapping away at his/her own mobile phone. Not sure if that's cultural progress.  

Bangkok is busy and vibrant, but poverty is still an issue, and the environment wasn't that desirable (air quality was horrible). The use of plastic bags was killing me; people use plastic bags for everything, even the street vendor puts hot soup in it. I know environment issues are below the radar when food is scarce and children don't even have shoes to wear, but everything is related. More plastic bags and more waste create worse environment for all citizens, but the poor will suffer more. I don't have an answer on how to solve this, but hopefully someone who's smarter does, and I'll be there to support!

Tags: bangkok, crowded streets, environment issue, pollution, poverty, thailand

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