Bangkok; a Shangri-la among World Cities

Guardian Figure at Wat in Bangkok; Scary eh.

Guardian Figure at Wat in Bangkok; Scary eh.

Claire: With so many temples and shrines around Bangkok, a poor tourist can’t go wrong visiting any one of them–they’re all beautiful. The best part is that the less famous of them still stand apart from the hustle-bustle of the city and provide a welcome relief of quiet and reflection without the crowds to interfere. Morning is a good time to observe Thai acts of generosity and devotion. Put down the camera, pocket the map, forget the time and just take it all in.

Golden Stupa

Golden Stupa

Bob: This is the second long tour we have ended with a stay in Bangkok. After 11 months cycling around Australia, we spent 10 days here, and this time we cycled from China and will spend eight days here before flying out on Christmas Day.

It’s very easy to lose a week in Bangkok. It is more Western than it was when we were here last nearly 10 years ago, but still exotic, still endearing in so many ways. The people are beautiful, the traffic reasonable, compared to China, and the food, the food, heavenly, and inexpensive. Oh, the weather is not bad either, after you become accustomed to sunshine and 90f.

The air quality has improved, or perhaps it is the season, with reliable winds each afternoon; there are fewer motorcycles and more cars, a bad thing, but the motos and tuk tuks are now mostly four-stroke and cleaner.

Bangkok is a great city for your first taste of Asia. Among large cities of the world, it is a Shangri-la.

Longtail Boat on Chao Phraya River

Longtail Boat on Chao Phraya River

Fertility Linga Among the Fish at a Neighborhood Market in Bangkoki

Fertility Linga Among the Fish at a Neighborhood Market in Bangkoki

Orchid, one of many found all over Bangkok

Orchid, one of many found all over Bangkok

Stupas and Offerings in Bangkok

Stupas and Offerings in Bangkok

Most Important Buddah In Thailand

Most Important Buddah In Thailand

Woman Making Offering At Market Shrine in Bangkok

Woman Making Offering At Market Shrine in Bangkok

Beautiful Wat architecture in Bangkok

Beautiful Wat architecture in Bangkok

Peppers In Bangkok Market

Peppers In Bangkok Market

Bangkok, Stupa in Wat

Bangkok, Stupa in Wat

World's Largest Reclining Buddah

World’s Largest Reclining Buddah

Monitor Lizard in Bangkok Cana

Monitor Lizard in Bangkok Canal

Thailand: No Baht, and Asia Roads

Claire:
Our first night in Thailand was spent without any Baht, the Thai currency. Crossing from Cambodia, we breezed through so easily that we bypassed one ATM, then found another, but it was out of order. We weren’t worried, because most places in Cambodia took U.S. dollars anyway. Not here. After having a drink vendor every five kilometers in Cambodia, Thailand seemed almost vacant. When we finally found a place to stay, it was a peculiar resort/bottled water producer/truck stop all in one. After several phone calls, the motel agreed to take our dollars (at an advantageous rate). We also ate dinner and breakfast there. The food was great and we were just glad to have a place to stay and food to eat.

Thai Tour Bus

Thai Tour Bus

Bob:
This tour bus/truck accident had to be fatal. The truck was
destroyed, and from the looks of this bus, the driver and tour leader were killed, and no doubt some passengers.

The wreck was probably less than an hour old, and I almost felt like I knew someone on the bus. We had dinner with a Dutch tour guide, Fritz, who was cycling through Cambodia on holiday, but he wasn’t to be back to work yet.I think the feeling came from the way the Thai busses have such spectacular and individual paint designs. It makes them feel almost personal to me.

We have seen the immediate aftermath of many, I repeat many, accidents on this 2854 mile tour. We saw an accident the first day out of Chengdu, China, and it didn’t let up.

Motobike Wreck Scene Painted On Pavement in Vietnam

Motobike Wreck Scene Painted On Pavement in Vietnam

In SE Asia they mark the pavement with white paint, showing the outlines of where the victims, and their vehicles came to rest. The first few of these fairly fresh markings were a bit shocking, but we became accustomed to them. The bent bicycle, with a person lying motionless in a rice paddy of Yunnan Provence, China, was more personal.

The majority of the accidents were motorbikes, with bicycles coming in a close second. In most of SE Asia, motorbikes outnumber autos and trucks 50 to 1, but bicycles are just on the bottom of the food chain.

Zippy is now safely in Left Luggage at the airport. He is a bit the worse for wear, but the great Thai food to be had in Bangkok will, over the next several days, repair us sufficiently for the flight home.

This is our second extended visit to Bangkok, the first being after our year cycling around Australia. It’s a facinating city, and we will be sharing pictures and hopefully some videos.

We fly home Christmas Day. After the New Year we will take time to reflect on the journey in search of Shangri-la, what we found, what we learned, and what it has meant to us.

Zippy is ready to roll!

Zippy shrink wrapped and ready for China. The wheels are in two other boxes, along with tools and sharp objects, a third bag will carry tent and sleeping bag for the high mountains. We’ll carry cameras and the computer in …

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