18 Apr 2012
Hating or loving Bangkok?
I visited Bangkok last year, while the city was battling horrific flooding - but hang on, only Bangkok? The parts that weren't shown by the western media were:
b) The flooding didn't affect the city centre. While everybody was a little afraid and shops, hotels and restaurants (the fancy ones) had barricaded themselves behind sand bags (very fun - climbing sandbags to get into the 7-11), I didn't see any water where it didn't belong, except when I took the bus route north and we were already about 8 miles from the centre.
But that's not my point (though it had to be said - international news are crap).
Bangkok is a big metropolis, with everything a big metropolis has to offer, and suprisingly, it has much more in common with Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei or Seoul than with Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Phnom Penh or other South East Asian capitals. It has a clean and functional subway system, shopping malls and all that - also, traffic congestion, snooty teens, lots of scams and higher prices than elsewhere in the country.
Is that why people don't like it - they fly into BKK on their way to a supposedly backwards country, to paradise islands, and are hit smack bang by a modern city, much more modern than most Western cities?
Or is it the whole ping pong show sex tourism thing? Because to be honest, Patpong and touristy markets are just a teensy corner of this amazing, colourful, vibrant city. Even in the side streets around the central station, life still seems to have stopped circa 1950. There are thousands of markets, of tiny local shops, of neighbourhood commununities. It's not just another Singapore.
From my month spent in Thailand, I spent almost two weeks in Bangkok, and that was a choice - and there's still so much I haven't seen there!
Have you been to Bangkok, and did you love it or hate it?