Bangkok in Thailand is exactly as one can imagine – an exotic city. But as you precisely this city would never imagine. This is not a contradiction. Welcome to Bangkok: city of contrasts and extremes. A magical city of smog and smells of tropical sunshine and rainfall, of wooden houses and skyscrapers, luxury and heartfelt simplicity.
Before ‘the land of smiles visited Bangkok for us was no more than a name to a distant city. A name that is associated with stories – true or not – on poverty, crime, poor hygiene and sex. Despite attempts by friends to our vague image of the city with pictures and stories to color, we managed not to get a good idea to form this fascinating city. At least until we flew … Eleven hours flying over countries we previously only knew from books and news stories – Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Burma – took us to Don Muang International Airport, Bangkok.
The first sight – from a taxi – Bangkok is overwhelming. Such cities – this Eastern city has more than 10 million inhabitants – have we in Europe. In Bangkok you will find skyscrapers that are not inferior to those in New York, expansive lush green parks, highways at high pillars across the city, futuristic Skytrain and shopping malls that are more like a small town than a shopping mall …
But wooden huts in clearings in the middle of the city and thousands of wooden stilt houses along the canals and tributaries of the Chao Phraya River. Wealth and poverty go hand and hand in Bangkok, connected by the perpetual smile on the faces of the people, always friendly and willing to help.
Bangkok is also a mixture of exotic scents. Scents of spicy dishes that rise from the tiles of the itinerant kitchens on every street corner is to be found. Scents of herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables that are offered at the many markets and find less generous. Because you’re watching in Bangkok, you’ll always see people eating it. Food – so it seems – is the main and most popular activity of the Thai.
Another thing we immediately noticed is the exquisite beauty of Thai girls. Slender figures with shiny dark hair and black eyes, always perfectly dressed and with a slight smile on the lips. This led us to return to the Western world a real trauma. Is it really too much to calm and cared for by the life going?
Another aspect of Bangkok that – no matter how small – must not remain unspoken, is traffic. Traffic as we had never seen. Smog and noise filled the streets of Bangkok. Cars, motorcycles, taxis, lorries, buses – sometimes without windows and doors, sometimes with air conditioning – hurtling at high speed through the city. Rely on the cross not the motorized road users can do that will stop because they do not! Indeed, it seems they are headed for your right … At least that was our experience when we – just arrived in Bangkok – (then) extremely busy Silom Road fearlessly crossed. Fortunately stabbing traffic cops – tight in the uniform and armed with anti-smog mask – the pedestrian clumsy here and there a helping hand.
The many restaurants – invariably with air conditioning – provide the hot and hungry tourists and a plethora of cool fragrant Thai dishes. Besides the high quality and varied range (in Bangkok is located next to the many Thai restaurants, international restaurants unprecedented high level) is worth the price. For 2 euros will get you perfectly groomed in the food courts in major department stores have a delicious meal. One evening we dined extensively in one of the finest restaurants in Bangkok. The price was not higher than a few hamburgers and a Coke in the Netherlands. The general price level in Bangkok is much lower than in the Western world. Prices for hotels, taxis, but also clothing and shoes (non-apparel imports from international brands), Thai silk and trinkets can not be compared with those in the Western world.