Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Asian city tour - Stop 3: Bangkok

I’m staffed right now on a project with an associate from Thailand. Since it’s such a long flight to go back to Shanghai, I took him up on an offer from him two weeks ago to show me Bangkok one weekend instead of flying home. Here are my impressions:

Bangkok is a lot more developed than I expected. I’m not sure why, but I expected concrete buildings a la Beijing, without the sprawl. In fact, it’s a really nice city with top notch hotels, good shopping, and terrific food. It had a certain friendly Southeast Asian feel to it that I get from Singapore, just not as clean or orderly.

Thailand is wicked hot. It’s not just broiling hot, but disgustingly humid as well. It’s a good thing everything is heavily air conditioned. I don’t know how anybody lived in the area before the discovery of refrigeration and freon gas. I sweat a lot to begin with, but I probably lost a quart an hour walking the streets of Bangkok. It doesn’t help matters that most temples and the national palace don’t admit people wearing shorts. The picture next to the Buddha above was taken just an hour after the picture at the beginning of this post. I wish I could say someone splashed my shirt with water, but they didn't. It's sweat. I know - gross.

It’s not sketchy in an in your face strip club way. It’s definitely there; a night market that we went to was surrounded on two sides by strip clubs and bars. But I think it’s more discreet than the Mexican guys who push strip club ads in your face in Las Vegas.

All in all, it was a fun trip. I much of spent Sunday in my firm’s Bangkok office (which is gorgeous compared to our second rate digs in Shanghai), but saw a lot nonetheless, thanks to my friend. He took me to a number of temples, the palace, a few street markets, and shopping centers. If it weren’t so ridiculously hot, I could see myself living there for at least a few months.

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