Today we had an early start for the 2 1/2 hour ride into Bangkok. It is the hottest day so far at 35 degrees. First impressions are that Bangkok is a Hugh city and much like all other large cities in the world. The traffic is congested ( see more below) but much higher percentage of cars and trucks.
Today I learned what will happen to London if we don't get to grips with traffic. In Bangkok nothing moves. Tut tuts only more if they go on the pavements alongside the mopeds. The traffic largely just sits still. event four lanes each way does not stop the problems. Still it is all part of the experience of visiting this city. Bangkok seems so much more modern than Vietnam or Cambodia. I am tinged with sadness when I think Bangkok is the fete that awaits both Vietnam and Cambodia in the next few years as the developers develop the costal areas.
The architecture comes in two forms bland concrete office and bank buildings. And ornate temples. It is only the temples that hold any appeal.
We took a ride with the local tut tut and set off for the royal palace. En route we visited the Buddhist temple of feng shui. This we discovered was located at the centre of all Asia within Bangkok.
Also we were fortunate to go there on a very holy day earlier today the King of Thailand was there for a ceremony along with 8000 locals. I also learned that the British crown jewels sport an orange sapphire the matching partner of which is in the Buddha at the feng Shui temple and both came from the Buddha 800 years ago.
Our tut tuts were unable to get us to the royal palace due to the traffic but after an hour breathing in the finest carbon monoxide Bangkok could throw at us we decided to call it a day. We then walked for about 1 or 2 k taking in the sights and sounds of this vibrant city. I have sympathy for Laura and Kingy now dragging all their luggage through here last summer.
We wound up in they MBK shopping mall and to be fair it was very good value but by know all the lads wanted was a cold beers and the women wanted to have eyelash extensions, nail polish and eyebrows done - which so we were told was a great saving!
What have I learned; well all big cities are much the same very busy. An 8 hour day (when 4 hours is spent travelling) is hopelessly short of what you need to gain any real experience of what a city is really all about.
Elephants walking along the side of the freeway just seems unnatural and whilst you look you feel like your shouldn't . It's a bit like a peep show which incidentally we did not visit.
Finally the Thais are mad keen on their royal family and seem to use this to unify their population and not devide it as is often the case at home, also they have a policy that all men when 20 have to spend a year as a monk studying local beliefs and values - even the king done it. This means no income no money and no relationships for a year. This installs respect for tradition and values to the young in Society. You have to ask how it could ever work in the UK. The result is apparently a very low crime rate and polite civil society.
Would I return yes the city needs at least 4 days for a proper look and it is very cheap. They sell true branded products really cheap (Levi jeans £20 and they are real).
Would I like to live here ...... Not on what I have seen today, far too busy and congested.
Tomorrow Ko Suomi and I feel this is a side of Thailand that I will find much more appealing, we will see.