Monday, September 13, 2010

Bangkok memories

Yes, it was truly an adventure. Everything new, exciting, overwhelming at times, in a word:intense.Bangkok is busy, with loads of traffic , tons of people , swatches of bold colors mixed with contemporary graphic designs, smells,heat, and food everywhere.Downtown is a medley of funky and modern buildings or giant malls where Thai people flock for shopping or eating in large,noisy and busy food courts.My hotel was very pleasant and the view from my 26Th floor window gives you a bit of Bangkok skyline:

The colors of Thailand are gold and purple.The Buddhas are gold, and the taxis are bright pink. orange, green and purple.
Altars are everywhere, even at busy intersections, where anyone can stop and pray.There is a booth where you can buy beautiful flower offerings ( I bought the one you see for 60 cents: 12 incense sticks, 1 small candles and three small garlands). For this special " lucky" Buddha, there was some live music and dance throughout the day.Across my hotel, there was a vendor on the street who made gorgeous flower garland offerings all day, that people would buy for their home or office altars. Can we be as grateful ?

As I said,gold is a favored color.As you leave the airport, the freeway is lined up with golden Buddhas, and the Grand Palace will deliver a lot of gold:

Other temples, some by the side of the river ( they are called vats) are intricately covered with tiny bits of mosaic:

One day we rented a boat for an hour drive on the river and the adjoining canals.I was a little shocked to meet this tempestuous brown seemingly untamed waterway in the middle of a big city. Big swatches of wild plants floated by at a brisk pace.After we left the modern high rises and the ancient temples, we entered the maze of canals where old wood houses on stilts lined the calmer waters.Crouching under some foliage, some peddlers in tiny boats waited in the shade to burst out at the first sight of a boat to sell us trinkets. I bought a black buddha for Dot.

I was told that Thai people eat six times a day, and you believe it when you see all the food carts lining the sidewalk: from cut fruits, to chicken liver satay, to noodle soups, to ice coffees, you will see throngs waiting for a small meal or drink on the go.My favorite became a breakfast staple: sweet sticky rice. A man, crouched next to his mounds of cut rolls of sticky rice, cooked with coconut milk and red beans in a bamboo stalk,was selling briskly. He was gone by mid morning, all sold out.
at the bigger stalls with tables and dishes, this is how they cleaned them:

It was fun to eat on sidewalks, sometimes with the photo crew, sometimes not

then other times, it was very pleasant to sit by a pond in a tropical garden, and indulge in delicious salads and pineapple fried rice. It was at the preserved house of a visionary American named Jim Thompson , who settled there and started a thai silk company in the fiftiesHe disappeared one day in the jungle, which add to his mystique.He built himself this beautiful house made of traditional and exquisite older buildings made of teak.The rope across the front door is made out of a flower garland....
is is now a museum showing his incredible collection of antiques and art.

After the visit , we jumped on a tuk tuk for a death defying ride through the maddeningly busy streets of bangkok.

Bangkok strives to be a modern metropolis, and it was thrilling to check out some amazing restaurants, some doubling up as galleries showing some incredible art.
One restaurant was high in a skyscraper, infiniti pool next to the open terrace.The other was in a giant pod like building where performance art took place as we dined reclined on white beds, bathed in a pink glow.

cocktails were exotic and food was delicious

as I walked one last time to my hotel down my now familiar street,I noticed that the lotus bud that I had marveled at, had finally opened.One last gift from bangkok.

1 comment:

  1. Pouke, It's really fun to see your experience of Bankok. All that gold! So unlike the gray Bay Area.
    Being in Asia, I cannot help but embrace all the vibrant color here.
    Warm regards from Bali,