What I Saw in Bangkok

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  • 7 Elevens. There are so many 7 Elevens.
  • The city runs on enough jugaad to make you feel instantly at home. Late for a meeting- no problem- you can scoot through traffic on zippy motorbikes and reach office in record time, leaving a trail of dead pedestrians in your wake. These scooters come with their (d)river, you can hire them like regular cabs and you get to ride pillion. Too lazy to cook- no issues- grab one of the freshly prepared, pre-packaged meals available in mind-numbing variety at the neighbourhood street stalls. There is chewy meat, spicy meat, any animal meat, diced mango, sliced mango, mango rice, mushroom pasta, chicken pasta- you only have to ask.

Odd Things in Bangkok

Fancy a massage but too meh to step inside and would rather just get a quick fix right there on the pavement? Ha! Bangkok still has you covered. It’s perfectly common for people to sink into deck chairs that actually spill from the sidewalk and onto the roads and soak in heady exhaust fumes while getting kneaded gently.

  • The Bangkok Metro is just like the Delhi Metro: another reason you should feel at home. Except their commercials are way more candid. One commercial for the Bangkok Metro narrates the gripping story of a Cool Dude and a Geeky Dude and the life lesson they learn at the metro station. Both the Dudes spot a Pretty Girl as they enter the metro station and it looks like the Cool Dude will reach her first. But here’s a twist in the tale: the Cool Dude doesn’t have a metro card. So he races to the ticket counter to buy a ticket while Geeky uses his smart card, sails through the metal turnstile and grabs the empty seat next to Pretty Girl. In the closing scene the Cool Dude is shown panting into the metro cabin as Geeky and Pretty Girl smile at each other. Moral of the story: The folks at Bangkok Metro sure know how to sell their Metro Card.
  • Every time you have to cross the Chao Phraya river near the Grand Palace, you have to buy a ticket. This is absurd because long stretches on both banks have multiple tourist attractions and crowded markets and a lot of people, especially tourists, feel the need to go back and forth multiple times in a day. At least I did, and going by the frequency, size and capacity of the ferries and the fact that they never go empty, I’m guessing a lot of other people feel the same way. The price of a ticket on the ferry is nominal, sure- 3 bhat or roughly Rs.2 one-way- but in any other place in the world this would be a free public service because a) the stretch of the river is tiny, b) this is the heart of the tourist district and sees heavy pedestrian traffic regularly, and c) the Government has failed to provide any reasonable alternative for public transport, like say, a bridge.
  • The Suvarnabhumi airport is horizontal- 4 floors to be precise with a basement for the city metro link. It’s so neatly packed and stacked and labeled that it leaves you moist-eyed and beaming in approval at the efficient signboard, which divides the floors into neat categories. The memory will tug at your heartstrings till much later- most sharply, when you find yourself undertaking that long trudge that is Delhi’s T3.
  • All the clearly Indian folks in Thailand claim to not be Indian. It’s not good for business if you disclose your nationality to fellow countrymen, one thing leads to another and you find yourself dishing out a discount on the fake Abercrombie bikini set. So they shake their heads vigorously and insist they’re from Nepal or Burma, but you’re left nursing a lingering suspicion when you hear the poorly concealed Bihari accent.
  • I did not get offered any ‘service’. I feel cheated out of a legitimate Bangkok travel experience. Don’t get me wrong- it’s not like I support any exploitative type of travel, but in the run-up to my trip, I received so much well-meaning and concerned advice on how to bat off unsolicited “offers” that I felt vaguely disappointed when the offers never came. It’s very upsetting.


Here, you can see some photos of Bangkok.

See more photos here.





If you liked this, check out:

What I Saw in Ao Nang, Krabi

What I Saw in Lucknow

What I Saw in Bhaktapur


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