Culture of Clashing Values

Bangkok is chaos! There are people everywhere and so much people watching to do. I’m staying at a sweet hostel which is a bit pricey for Thailand ($10 a night) but it’s got hot showers, AC and a duvet. Plus it’s located in Silom which is accessible by metro while the west part of the city (where I was staying my first night) is not.
delicious fried rice

You quickly find the divide in Bangkok; the west is a bit more slumish while the east is the commercial district filled with flashy shopping malls and the metro system which is actually not cheap.
I got my first Thai massage which was delightful. I’ve also been eating heaps of Thai food which is so cheap and yummy. Thailand is THE place to be when you are on a budget. You can easily live off of $10 a day if you’d like.
There are markets everywhere, the biggest being the weekend market which is enormous and overwhelming. There is also the Kho San Road market where you get all the backpacker gear and bargaining is in order.

Bangkok is filled with foreigners! But it hasn’t been easy meeting people. It seems that everyone these days is travelling with their partner or with a friend. But I’m embracing being a solo tourist. It gives you the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

Yesterday I went to the floating market which is an hour out of Bangkok. I had to do it through a tour because it seemed quite difficult to tackle on my own. This is another place designed for tourists. You are in a boat being paddled around through a market on the canal. It’s quite interesting and beautiful except that they are selling touristy items.

I finally had my first night out on the town with Aruna, who is backpacking through Asia as well. We went to the Sukhamvit area which is meant to be the nightlife area. After watching a ping pong show, where several Thai women strip then pull things out of their vaginas (obviously targeted solely at foreigners!) we figured we’d have a few beers and find a place to chill. This proved to be more difficult than we had thought. After about 30 minutes of walking around the area we realized that there were way too many older foreign men in the area but after another glance we realized it was because there were heaps of Thai prostitutes to buy just hanging around. I guess we were in the wrong part of town, or is this just Bangkok?
We finally went to a bar and found ourselves to be the youngest people there. We ended up watching transactions take place between customers. It was interesting, nonetheless.
floating market
Today I did a quick glimpse of the main temples with Aneesh, a couchsurfer I met here. We hired a tuk tuk for 3 hours and were driven to the main places so we could take pics and glance. It easy to get sick of the wats as there are way too many. I did however visit the only Hindu temple in Bangkok, watched a pooja and felt happy looking at the Tamil sign.
It’s interesting to note the day and night life of Bangkok; religious temples fill the city but by night, Bangkok attracts mainly sex tourists.
The same contrast is found in city life; while half the inhabitants are living off of 100 baht a day, the other half are living in apartments with A/C. I suppose this contrast can be said for any main city but this is the first time I’m noticing such a huge divide. Of course, this is Asia opening up my eyes to the real world.
The culture as well is pretty modern. Most Thais speak English, but this could also be due to the overwhelming number of tourists that come through the city.

I’m finally leaving Bangkok, thank goodness! It’s proving to be a bit much for me. I’m not looking forward to the fact that I have to return back in 2 weeks before heading to Cambodia but I won’t stay too long, perhaps a day or two at the most.

tourists at Grand Palace

 Tonight I’m taking the overnight train to Chumpon and then a ferry onwards to Ko Toa. Beach life, here I come!

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