Two New Yorkers spend six months 18 months!?! in Bangalore and other places in India.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Thai Times

Oh, man, did we have fun in Bangkok. What a city. No offense, India, but it was sure nice to be somewhere where traffic lanes are generally observed, the sidewalks aren't a morass of broken stones and gaping holes, and the men don't routinely urinate at the side of the road.

We did the main sights (Royal Palace, National Museum, a couple of temples), but we were mainly interested in eating Thai food and enjoying a bit of nightlife, something we decidedly can't do in Bangalore, which shuts up tight at 11:30 p.m. Bangkok did not disappoint.

We also shopped. The Thais, at least in their capital, are a notably mercantile people, with spacious malls, street vendors jammed into every available corner (especially in the touristy areas of Patpong and Silom), and night markets that set up in city parks and do a brisk business all through the wee hours. The prices are good, and the selection is world-class -- I think the Siam Square Paragon department store, and particularly its food halls, beats any New York equivalent. Not only is the selection comprehensive, but they have the space to display it all elegantly , a combination you just can't find in Manhattan.

It's particularly remarkable that we enjoyed ourselves so much because we both were suffering, especially the first few days, from irritating ailments. John had pulled a muscle in his back, so it was hard for him to walk, and I had managed to irritate my esophagus something awful by not taking enough water with my malaria medication, which made swallowing very painful and eating a real ordeal (which really was a hardship, surrounded as I was by wonderful Thai food). On our first day we went to the Bangkok Christian Hospital to get checked out. Guess what -- it was really great! We had no appointments but we were ushered in and saw English-speaking doctors within half an hour. We had our medications and were out the door about an hour after we wandered in. We each paid about $30 -- medication included. It really makes you wonder why we can't have a simpler and more effective system in the U.S.

We also had a lot of transportation issues. The subway and elevated train are both excellent, but they don't go to lots of interesting parts of town, so you have to take a taxi or one of the ferries that ply up and down the Chao Praya River. The ferries were fun, but their system was complicated and poorly explained by signs. We also got taken for a ride by a couple of enterprising taxi drivers, which was very frustrating at the time, but easily laughed off later, when you realize that the 150 baht you've been cheated out of is less than four bucks.

John's got all the pictures on his camera, and he's back in the States, so we'll post them later. I'm back at work in Bangalore, finishing up. Just a few more weeks until I am back in the States. Hard to believe it has gone by so quickly!

1 comment:

John said...

Pictures are coming! We should have taken some in the hospital -- I guess we weren't really in the mood.