Pungent Bangkok

Bangkok just didn’t really do it for me, I’m afraid.  So there’s not going to be anything particularly exciting about this post.

Perhaps it was because we’d just come from the marvels of Angkor, next to which most places are going to seem a little dull.  But I don’t think I would have found myself very excited regardless.  Perhaps it’s just that after travelling for a while, each big city starts to look like the previous one.  Although as much as that may be true for looks, Bangkok certainly didn’t smell like anywhere I’ve been before.  It stinks – the open sewers and the garbage on the streets (complete with enormous rats, rooting around on the footpath for their share) fill the air with a certain eau de unpleasantness.  So maybe that was the problem.

A wing of the Grand Palace, doing its best to look supernaturally responsible for some oncoming inclement weather

A wing of the Grand Palace, doing its best to look supernaturally responsible for some oncoming inclement weather

We saw a few of the sites:  we went to the Grand Palace and a handful of the famous Wats (temples).  But even they didn’t do it for me.  I think Chris summed it up best:  somehow the over-the-top grandeur of the palace and the Wats just feels like a monumental version of the waving cat tacky souvenir thing you can buy pretty much all through South-East Asia.

Lots of gold trim, in Wat Phra Kaew

Lots of gold trim, in Wat Phra Kaew

We considered taking a boat tour on the canals – as had been recommended both by a friend and by our guide book.  But we had difficulty convincing ourselves that we’d enjoy what promised to be a particularly odoriferous experience, so we gave it a miss.

And yes, we did wander through the smuttier areas of Bangkok, too.  Past the dodgy bars touting dodgy shows of dead-to-the-world girls doing bizarrely inappropriate things with their genitalia.  I even went to one of them, accompanying a group of Canadian girls who wanted to know what all the fuss was about.  And no, that didn’t make Bangkok for me either.  Funnily enough, I remain convinced that ping pong is an activity best undertaken fully clothed.

Our time in Thailand’s capital wasn’t a complete loss, though.  Conveniently, our hostel was just down the road from the Myanmar Embassy.  Which was good, because it was off to Yangon next, to see what Burma looks like now that people are starting to stop calling it Burma.  And we needed visas.

Also, in fairness, we enjoyed some pretty good food.  First, a street restaurant on the steps of a bank branch in Silom Road, which did tasty and spicy food for cheap.  And second, on our way back through after Yangon, before catching the train up to Chiang Mai:  Sizzler.  Yes, you heard right;  so far as I can tell, Bangkok is one of the few cities outside of the US still to have a Sizzler.  Complete with everyone’s favourite all-you-can-eat salad and dessert bar.  And my god, can I eat a lot when tasked appropriately.  That salad bar took quite a beating.  And that despite the fact that I ordered – and demolished – a full rack of juicy juicy BBQ spare ribs.  And topped it off with a couple of chocolate mousse things for dessert.  Or maybe it was three of them?  I really can’t remember.  It was probably more than is really required before a sixteen-or-so-hour overnight train ride to the north of the country, in any case.  But I’m getting ahead of myself:  both Sizzler and that train trip were on our way back up through Bangkok, after a four-day trip to Yangon…

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