one night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble! Yes, it’s a Murray Head song from 1975, a good way to describe the city of Bangkok, and it’s not because I like it that I went there because I asked myself a lot of questions before deciding. As usual, I looked on the internet and especially on YouTube to get people’s opinion in pictures and videos but also with comments about their experiences there. Personally, I have been to a few Asian cities and I had never heard so many people talking about their misadventures during their stays, the types of scams they had suffered, warning you and describing what all tourists will inevitably encounter, however they all agree that it is good to want to visit the great city of Siam. It scared me, and I told myself that it really wasn’t a destination for me, so I was going to choose another trip for the holidays when my wife who absolutely wanted to go there to enjoy a real and original pad thai, seafood and street food told me that she didn’t seem to be destabilized by the fact that there are scams. She told me that she knew quite a few people who had chosen this destination and that they had all come back standing up and in one piece, so we decided to book our trip. As a general rule, tour guides give you quite a lot of information about places to visit and tourist attractions, except that for the city of Bangkok the information was really light and lacked details, so we discovered a lot of unusual places that no guide talks about. Having information on the spot is like being armed to face the unknown, indeed if I talk about arming myself as if I was going to war, I must believe that I listened and watched so many misadventures of tourists on the internet that I cultivated preconceptions and apprehensions, so I arrived suspicious. Arrived at Bangkok airport, a good general impression, I expected the worst, but everything went well, it was mid-afternoon and we immediately bought a SIM card to reassure the family and tell them we had arrived safely. Indeed, communication is important in times of war or in case of an attack, Oh that’s okay, we can joke a little. We took the subway and then the aerial tram to arrive at our hotel in the Sukhumvit district. Although there is a lack of transportation on the subway and tram network, in addition to the lack of a daily or weekly pass or pass for leisurely travel. The network belongs to several private companies, without the possibility to have an agreement between them on the price, they sell their tickets separately, it is a bit like in Spain on the motorways where you have to pay the toll every 10 km. In spite of this, during our stay we found other possibilities to get around, in addition to the tram, metro and taxi we used the waterways and it was free. The evening of our arrival we went out to find a place to eat the famous Pad Thai, we had not yet left the hotel when the concierge calls us and asks us, where do you want to go? Do you want to find a restaurant? A shopping mall? Shall I call you a taxi? No thanks, no thanks, no thanks, get off my back, he’s asking us, but why don’t you want to? Once I get rid of the leech, we walk 100 meters away, I take my phone to orient myself with Google map, here’s a guy who comes out of nowhere to ask me if he could help me, personally I hate it, and above all I hadn’t rang him. However, we had read that according to the experiences of other tourists, you have to keep your composure and calm, refuse everything he offers you as help but refuse nicely, and above all do not get angry or shout because it would only complicate things. Finally, he finally let go of my bunches after 2 to 3 minutes, it was the baptism of fire, but it is a daily rite that you have to get used to, by taking it patiently. A few days later, we wanted to get away from the city centre to visit the floating market, the taxi offers us an interesting fare, a thousand Bats to make the round trip, but once there, we are asked to pay the boat three thousand Bats to visit the market, it represents one hundred euros for an hour’s ride, which is in my opinion much too much. I was annoyed, with the feeling that I’d been cheated, while I was telling my wife that I was going to take the taxi back home, suddenly the price dropped to two thousand bats. I knew that the taxi would go and share the cake with the owner of the boat, since I estimated that one thousand beats for the taxi ride was not much. When we got back, the taxi suddenly decided to raise the price by two hundred bat without any good reason. In short, I asked my wife to give him one thousand two hundred bat, which was seven euros more than the price set at the beginning. Wherever in the world, taxis are thieves, and I know that in Paris you can find even worse, and that this type of behavior is not exclusive to taxis in Bangkok. However if you want to take a taxi in Bangkok, take the yellow and green ones that display on the roof of their vehicles “Taxi Meter” and if the driver does not put the meter on when you get into his taxi, ask him to put it on otherwise you ask him to stop his taxi to get out and there he usually puts it on immediately because he is afraid it can be severely punished. There are really cheap places to eat, clean and well, we ate and drank for less than 7 euros for two, in the market of Chatuchak which opens its doors on Friday evening and Saturday and Sunday. In this market there are a thousand small shops where you can buy lots of cheap trinkets. My wife was a bit frustrated because the traders don’t lend themselves to the rite of negotiation like in China, the price is firm and final and there is no way to get a discount, and that suits me fine.
During the elections last March they banned the sale and consumption of alcohol everywhere, it was to elect the new government that would sit with the arrival of the new king, the political system in Thailand is too complicated for a mere mortal like me, but the king does not care, he is king until his death. The latter has his framed picture everywhere in front of the buildings, it seems he is often absent, since he has a castle in Switzerland where he spends most of his time, letting the internal affairs of the country deteriorate. It even seems that the prisons are full to overflowing, locking up students who have dared to criticize this king, this one really looks bad, with Dumbo’s ears. Social inequality is blatant in Bangkok, much more so than in other capitalist countries of Southeast Asia, such as Hong Kong or Singapore, misery is everywhere, sex tourism is blatant. Over there, when you see an old European with grey hair walking around, he is often accompanied by a young Thai woman. I can understand these young women who choose this type of life, they have made a difficult choice between accepting misery or living better by selling their bodies, I think it is a choice that they have made in full awareness of the disastrous situation that prevails. Generally people are kind and sympathetic, I loved the Thai greeting the “Wai”, click here to learn and especially when they say good morning, yes because there’s the morning Sawasdee there’s the afternoon Sawasdee and the evening Sawasdee and it’s very singing and it made me crack. Besides, after I came back to France, I kept on greeting people using the Wai, it’s a beautiful testimony of the great respect and sympathy towards others.
Buddhism is omnipresent, there are houses of spirits everywhere, they are small wooden houses on a beam, they are found in front of buildings or in gardens and I have even seen them on the roofs of buildings and they put seeds, fruits and burn incense to protect themselves and obtain the grace of the spirits with whom they believe they live permanently. A few days on the spot and that’s it, I got used to the people, I’m starting to fit in and everything that I was afraid of when I arrived turned into admiration for this people. They don’t like summer, it’s because they know nothing but summer, they only have one season all year round, the lucky ones they don’t realize how lucky they are, despite the heat, they are very clean, the Sky trains are crowded, but I never felt a person stink. I tasted the durian for the first time, it’s delicious, I regret I’ve never done it before because for me it tastes like paradise, the only drawback is the smell that stuck to my palate for three days. Places to visit Jim Thompson’s house, the IconSiam shopping mall, to get there there there’s a free river shuttle, china town and its shops, the flower market that you have to visit in the evening, and of course all the other places mentioned in the guides. I left Bangkok with a lot of bitterness because I had the impression that I hadn’t seen much, and that I still had a lot to discover but it will be for the next trip to this beautiful country which is Thailand, see you soon.
I leave you with a big kiss.