Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bangkok ... Charm in the chaos

It's bright. Rather chaotic. Hurried. Yet charming and relaxed.

Bangkok is loved by many veteran travelers ... many marry and settle here ... and for others simply a conduit to get to Thailand's famed beaches.

On a short visit, Bangkok might just as well be about exotic food and the chill Thai state of mind.

Bangkok is obviously easy to get to ... it's a major South East Asian city with flights from anywhere in the world.

Backpackers flock to Khao San Road, for decades a backpacker hostel hangout ... now with artsy boutique hotels getting in the game.

By day, a relaxed, walk-friendly promenade of sorts to chill, eat, and drink a tropical juice ... or half a dozen ... to relieve the heat.

By night, a festive melange of impromptu food stalls, shining lights, gaudy shops, discos, and the obligatory massage parlors.

Bangkok street food is almost hallowed in backpacker lore ...

... some of it definitely, um, different...

.. but cheap, plentiful, and downright delicious.

Come morning, succumb to the incessant pestering of shady tuk tuk drivers and go for a crazy ride around town...

... or, far better, walk a stone's throw to the Chao Praya river, and roll down the river for as long as you want, for pennies, watching life along this great artery.

Short on time? Arrange for a one-day guided van tour through your hotel desk the next day, of some unique sights.

A market on train tracks ...

... which moves off the tracks in seconds as a train approaches if by magic, but the key to the deft trick being rollers under the carts and tarps.

Mae Khlong market

A few beautiful temples ...

... some with a twist

... but always drawing the faithful

And finally, the amazing floating markets ...

Take a seat on the concrete steps, point to any and as many exotic seafood, and dine away.

Bangkok screams out to the cultural traveler for a longer stay, to go beyond the tourist surface, and make friends and understand this city of calm amidst the din and dusty skies.

Next stop, Thailand's beaches.

Koh Phi Phi


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