Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bangkok, a city of contradiction

Spending a week in Bangkok with its social economic conflicts, was like observing a clash of extreme worlds trying to co-exist.  It has not been immune to the perils of globalization.  From glitz and glamour of skyscrapers and high rises, to broken down shanties, tangled wires and broken pavements.  Five star restaurants amid street side food stalls.  Tradition vs modernity.  Decadent hedonism alongside Buddhist meditation.  Paralyzing traffic giving way to expanding elevated sky trains.  But amidst it all, the Thai legendary smile still exists.  They are considered the friendliest city on the planet, which we so pleasantly got to experience.  Even Travel & Leisure has named it the "World's Best City" for the last four years.

We visited many wonderful sites the city had to offer.  The Royal Palaces and Temples, the Pak Klong Talet (the flower and vegetable markets, where traders from all over the country convene early in the morning to unload their fresh produce), a literary pilgrimage to the timeless elegance of the famous Mandarin Oriental Hotel, lodging for famous authors like Tennessee Williams and Somerset Maugham.  Unfortunately, we did not stay there.  I'd have to sell a kidney or two!  But we did get to enjoy an evening at their Bamboo Bar with a small, rich crowd.  And I had my first vesper - the James Bond Martini!  Yum!

Battered by natural disasters and political violence, Bangkok is definitely a city in conflict.  Current major protests between Anti-Government and Pro-Government groups is dampening central Bangkok's spirit.  But the Thai spirit, like the smile, is pervasive.  It remains resilient.

The City

The People

The History