First Impressions of Bangkok

Bangkok is a very different place than when Patrick traveled here twenty years ago, and very different than the other large cities we’ve been to on our travels.

  • The city is very modern looking. There are a lot of sky scrapers. The shopping area looks like a futuristic version of Epcot Center. Overall the city looks more developed and modern than Vancouver, London, or New York.
  • Public transit is excellent. There is a Skytrain which is wider, nicer, and more elevated than the one in Vancouver. Overhead walkways are common at major intersections (like on the Las Vegas strip). There is a large, modern subway, efficient buses, and a high-speed water taxi on the river.
  • The city is very clean compared to those in Africa and India.
  • For the most part, drivers follow the traffic rules and signals.
  • There are street food stalls almost everywhere serving cheap and delicious food. We’ve only eaten in a restaurant a couple of times. Soups, noodles, curries, vegetarian dishes, and bar-b-qued chicken and duck are common.
  • There are a couple of bars located on the roofs of skyscrapers, something not found elsewhere due to the obvious safety issues.
  • You can buy fried insects on the street including larvae, crickets, grass hoppers, and scorpions.
  • Many sidewalks are lined with street vendors. Common items are food, clothing, and jewelry. You can still buy pirated CDs and DVDs, and copies of designer clothes and watches. You can also have music and movies loaded onto your iPod.
  • You can buy brass knuckles, switchblades, throwing stars, and tasers on the street, all of which are illegal Canada.
  • You can also buy Viagra and Cialis on the street, which may or may not be real.
  • Vendors are polite and not pushy. Negotiating is a friendly process.
  • You can get a fish pedicure here. For a few dollars you soak your feet in a tank of small ‘doctor fish’ from Japan that eat the dead skin from your feet.
  • We ate bird’s nest soup in Chinatown. This is a gelatinous ‘noodle’ soup made from the boiled nests of sea birds. The nests are made from bird saliva and are harvested by men who climb high in seaside caves.
  • Beer is sold almost everywhere, even at street stalls. It isn’t clear if premises need to be licensed.
  • Foreign fast food is commonly available including McDonalds, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut, and Swenson’s ice cream parlours. McDonald’s serves beef (unlike India) and hot pies, but instead of apple they are filled with broccoli or corn.
  • Coffee shops, including Starbucks, are common, contributing significantly to Diane’s enjoyment of the city.
  • There are 7-Elevens everywhere. Apparently there are almost 4000 throughout Thailand, and they sell cheap beer!
  • There are large, modern shopping malls filled with international stores, luxury products, and luxury prices.
  • It is still common to see foreign men of all ages with beautiful, young Thai women (some of whom are also men). Some foreign men retire here for this reason.
  • There is a visible police presence, especially in tourist areas. They appear to here to assist and protect the tourists, rather than extort them as in many other countries.
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7 Responses to First Impressions of Bangkok

  1. Annette says:

    Thanks for another wonderful blog.

    Annette

  2. Bev says:

    Bangkok sounds like my kind of place. I have to tell you I am pretty amazed at Diane's ability to restrain from shopping. I think this trip has changed our dear friend. lol. (or has she shipped things home) ha ha. Thanks for sharing yet another fantastic and informative blog.

    Bev
    ps still counting..Just days over a month to go…

  3. Mrs. B says:

    mmmm…I want a fish pedicure whilst slurping bird's nest soup. Have people ever gotten the two mixed up?
    Cheryl

  4. Werner says:

    Patrick and Diane,

    Finally catching up on all your blogs. They are entertaining and enlightening as usual. Is Bangkok the beginning of your re-introduction to western life – in preparation for your return? Any good deals on electronics?

    Looking forward to your return.

    Werner and Henny

  5. Patrick says:

    Bev – Diane (and I) aren't that restrained. We sent home a box of custom tailored clothing by courier.

    Cheryl – Mix ups aren’t likely. To our knowledge, one of them is only available in China Town. However, we don’t know what they do afterwards with the water that the fish (and feet) are swimming in… Hmmm…

    Werner and Henny – Bangkok was just a temporary slice of modern life. Not really western life though. Our last three countries have a few big cities and probably conveniences, but they’re all ‘Eastern’. Bangkok really isn’t a good place for electronics. Hong Kong and Singapore were much better in the past (not sure about now).

  6. keli says:

    You can have a fish pedicure in the streams in North Van too! At least I did this summer!!! Totally want to try the real one though!

  7. Patrick says:

    Hi Keli – We also found the fish pedicure in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Perhaps it's catching on and will be coming to a spa near you soon!

    P & D

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