Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bangkok: Trying to Tell the Ladies from the Boys



It was the last week of June and the husband and I got on a plane (got upgraded to business class) and went on holiday to Thailand. I was enormously excited about Thailand because I have NEVER been to South East Asia before. I can imagine you looking at me with raised eyebrows and exclaiming “Never, really?” So yes, even thought the Far East has always been a popular holiday choice for a lot of Indian travellers (being closer, cheaper than other destinations, ease of getting visas etc), I have really never been to South East Asia before. Even though I’ve had the good fortune of extensive world travel (perks of my father’s airline job), the Far East never made it on our itinerary, because the airline my father worked with was based out of London and so Europe, North America and even Africa were places we travelled to most.




Back to Thailand and oh my goodness I love Bangkok! The city is relatively clean (most of it, though some bits were really, really squalid) and shiny and fast paced, the air conditioning cooler, the trains faster, the malls bigger and the shorts girls wore shorter. We were staying in a neat little service apartment (in what I would like to believe was in downtown Bangkok), with a lovely little balcony, right on the top floor, which was perfect for sitting and watching fat, grey clouds hurriedly crowd over the city’s skyline.




It would drizzle on and off and the air was heavy with humidity and the pungent aromas of Thai street food. Talking about food, there was all kinds of it- from fish balls to some dodgy looking bits of meat, to chicken bum. Food was everywhere, from crowded streets thronging with people, to noisy food courts in malls, to lovely restaurants serving some of the best Sushi and Pad Thai I have ever eaten, which made me realise why Thailand is a food lover’s wet dream come true (I’m sorry, but the city’s sleaze had begun to rub off on me).  Sleaze was everywhere too, provided you knew where to look and frankly we didn’t! What I also saw, were a lot of older white men with younger Thai women and even older white men with younger Thai guys. Whatever makes you happy and which is also what I loved about Bangkok, there’s a lot of acceptance in this city. Women (a lot of who own and run businesses in the city) are respected. Even the lady boys, whom we sighted frequently, seem to be well accepted by society and the best part, nobody was leering at girls (coming from Delhi, you can imagine how much of a relief that must’ve been).



We did the usual tourist-y things, took a lot of pictures (I discovered Instagram over this holiday and it is FANTASTIC), rode the sky train, shopped (oh my goodness so many pretty things!), got onto a boat and wandered into the Wat Pho temple (the reclining Buddha temple) by complete accident and which was lovely and completely worth the 100 baht per person we paid to get in. This was also my first visit to a Buddhist temple and I could have stayed there for hours. In front of an enormous golden statue of a heavy lidded Buddha there was a board which said we must pray to the Buddha for success and prosperity, which was odd considering here was a man who abandoned it all. But I prayed for peace and for love and I’m sure the Buddha would approve of that.

(Look out for my post on Phuket later)


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