Bangkok, City of Contrasts

Bangkok looks far scarier than any of the big cities we went to in South Africa yet when walking the streets here, I feel no fear of being robbed of my camera or of being mugged.

Bangkok’s dark and dirty streets are packed full of log hanging power lines make shift shops, consumers, vendors, food stalls, tailors, you name it, it’s there. The pollution’s so thick that it stains the buildings, blocks the stars at night and stings your eyes at the end of a day in the city.

Most of the locals wear face masks over their month and nose when riding bikes or working on the streets. The day we took a Tuk Tuk (a three wheel motor bike meets taxi) to one of the temples we quickly found out why as we had to cover our faces with the scarf that I use to cover my camera. I use a scarf rather than a camera bag because it opens quickly for fast shooting and it disguises it so that it doesn’t look like I’m carrying $5.5k around my shoulder.

In sharp contrast to the grey and dirt, Bangkok is also packed full of friendly people, amazing temples, ceremonies, great food, flowers and all sorts of visually vibrant settings. We were there for a public holiday dedicated to Buddha and the temples were all full with people giving offerings of flowers, prayer and food.

Towering over old and decrypted low rises are clean and shiny towers covered in advertising for luxury goods that only a minuscule percentage of the population could actually afford. One of the tallest tower offers a pretty cool view of the city and it’s traffic from a rotating platform on the 82nd floor. When cruising around town on foot a favourite pastime of mine is spotting the motor bikes that are piled high with more cargo then would fit in my car. Everything from river boats to taxis are painted in bright happy colours and are dawned with ornate flowers.

Had I been into drinking and going out all night this post would be a lot different than what it is. I’m sure that if you love to party there are all kinds of amazing things that you would love about this city. On this trip, I enjoyed my time in Bangkok, but it’s not on the top of my list for places one really needs to visit. This said, if we had more time it would have been nice to explore some of the less touristy areas in Thailand that have all of the amazing and none of the bad that comes with a big city.

We are super stoked for our next stop, Vietnam!