Sunday, October 30, 2005

October 10: Bangkok

(1) The next morning, after hopping online and purchasing a flight to Phuket for the next day, I set out to do some exploring. The first thing I noticed was the strange proximity of the rich and the poor. Just walking down the street from my hotel to the skytrain, I could see giant high-rise buildings towering above what appeared to be a ramshakled village. According to one traveler, these may actually be temporary laborers' quarters - not permanant homes. Either way, it's still pretty bad. I suppose it's not that uncommon to see combined wealth and poverty in large cities, but I couldn't help but wonder what it does to the psyche of the people. Does it breed a feeling of empowerment for those looking down from their windows upon the metal roofs and boarded walls below? And does it belittle the inhabitants of these shacks, looking up to condos in the sky?

(2) Sukhumvit, seemingly the epicenter for Bangkok's sex tourism industry, does, however, offer something for the individual not looking for a good time, but, rather, just a good time. What it offers is a fantastic staging point for travel throughout the city, allowing easy access to both the subway and skytrain. Bangkok has terrible traffic, and unobstructed transportation is key. On my way over to the major tourist points of interest, I rode the skytrain to the Saphan Taksin stop along the Chao Phraya River, where I then picked up a water taxi. This is the quickest, cheapest, and most scenic way to get around town.

(3) Deboarding the water taxi at the N8 stop, I was able to walk, quickly, to Wat Pho in order to view the famous Reclining Buddha. It's big. From there, it's just a short walk over to the Grand Palace, which encompasses the holiest and most impressive temple in the country, Wat Phra Kaeo. To visit my final tourist stop for the day, before taking some time to just stroll around the back streets of the city, I ventured a little further away to Wat Rajnadda's massive amulet market - amulets are sacred neclaces, often depicting a miniature Buddha.

(4) Later that evening, I, along with Graham, Rich (in red), and Doug, a family friend who happened to be in Bangkok at the same time as me, hung out at Gulliver's Traveler's Tavern with the desk receptionists from our hotel. Though I had to be up early the next morning for a flight out of the big, bad city, Rich and Graham gave me and Doug the grand after-hours tour of the town.

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At 1:03 PM, Anonymous digamma said...

Wow, I took almost exactly the same photo in February. Which BTS station was that? Nana?

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Jarrett Bellini said...

Yes, it was the Nana station. I'm actually amazed at how many people remember this view.


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