What a brilliant surprise Bangkok has been!! I was expecting a seedy, dirty, chaotic city full of travellers seeking out all the worst aspects. Instead I found a modern, vibrant city with so much more to offer than ping pong shows.
By far the greatest treat has been the variety of food on offer and how amazing it tastes. There are food stalls on most streets serving up all kinds of fast food and lots of little cafes and restaurants frequented by locals and tourists alike. I’ve never seen such an array of food, at least half of which I did not know existed until this week.
We had seafood Tom Yum at a street stall and it was fresh, zingy and filled with lots of little sea critters. There are dozens of papaya salads to choose from; those we have tried have been spicy and delicious. Then there’s the roasted or grilled or BBQ meat which is better than I have ever tasted. I could go on but I’m sure you get the picture.
The second biggest delight has been seeing the diverse society and apparent acceptance amongst Thais. I’ve seen more lesbians in the past week than you can shake a stick at. For once I felt like part of the crowd and not someone that stands out. There are also lots of transsexual people holding down generic jobs and not working in the sex industry as tired cliches would have us believe.
Of course there is still the underbelly of sex shows and prostitution but it is in its own area of the city for those who want to experience it and seemingly absent from most other parts. We passed through this area on our way to the neighbouring gay village where we had a few gins with a friend of Maura’s, Tim.
As is part of the traveller experience we bumped into friends we made somewhere else in the world – Danny and Teresa from Spain who we met in India. Together we headed to one of Bangkok’s night markets called Talad Rot Fai (the Train Market). The place was HUGE!! It was about the size of Spitalfields + Camden + Borough Market x 2 and covered the same range of goodies i.e. food, clothes, furniture and curiosities.
Finally I just need to mention the giant lizards we saw today loafing by the river. I have no idea what they were but the biggest was over one metre long and a foot wide and was terrifying.