Thailand trip log
Day 1: arrival Radison hotel
Huge airport (Suvarnabumi) with familiar architecture, Mr Kisho’s handiwork. I think.
Far busier than KLIA but that can be deceptive because I have seen KLIA as busy although only at speciic times.
Gorgeous hotel hostesses greeted our arrival at Radison hotel. Walking tourist information offices. I think its because they spoke English, other staff did not.
Large mosque by the expressway.
Signs of their reverance for their kind was everywhere. I wondered if this had anything to do with there being only one kind for the whole country. In Malaysia, we have several kings taking turns being the Agong.
Day 2: Assumption University, Bangkok.
The conference hall was held in what was basically a church although it was called a conference center.
It became obvious that the Thais were preocupied by the philosophy of self-sustainability.
I was astounded by the reverence and devotion the Thais have for their monarch. The last time I visited Bangkok I saw this too but this time it seems almost overpowering. Later this day I learnt that there are celebrating the King’s 80th birthday and his 50th year on the throne thus making him the longest reinging monarch in the world. the Thais were very proud of this. A uidebook told me that the Thais regard their King like a god but that description does not do justice to the practice we see here. It does not feel like religious devotion, more like nationalism but more extreme.
I also learnt that Bangkok or Krung thep as it is known by the local has the longest place namein the world – acknowledge by the Guinness book of world records. The full name of Bangkok is “Krungthepmahanakhon Amornrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit”. And if we translate this into English, we get, “The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated God, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn”. They have a song that they use to teach the name. Very grand, I think, especially when you consider Kuala Lumpur simply means ‘muddy estuary’.
At the conference, I learnt that the sustainability idea that kept cropping up in the Thai participants’ papers is actually the philosophy of sufficiency economy which was introduce by the monarch 30 years ago and has been used as a central idea for development since.
8 August 2007: Holiday Inn, Bangkok.
Moved to Holiday Inn, Bangkok today to get nearer to the city.
Tonight, I was ast the Patpong night market. It’s a night market much like any makeshift market you’ll find all over Asia but this one is lined by girlie bars where young ladies, and ladies made-up to look younger, dance around poles on stages and bar tops in skimpy bikinis. Their bored sway and blank faces are such a turn off. I wondered what these Mat Sallehs (Westerners) are so turned on about. A legacy of the Vietnam war’s GI rest and recreation break, this place still thrives.
I saw some of the se Mat Sallehs and non-Mat Sallehs with their rented ladies making their way back to their hotel rooms and wondered why anyone would pay to have sex with some of these women they were bringing back. More importantly, I am certain that alcohol had something to do with their ability to get an erection. Perhaps alcohol would also be necessary when morning comes and they wake up to find these women next to them in bed. Perhaps, I am being too pessimistic.
Then again, there were also some very comely ones, but not that many. I saw one gorgeous young lady in neon green bikini and high heels, I think she came out of the bar to buy a pack of cigarettes.
The whole bar and whore scene was really most beneficial to the alcohol industry, I guess. The real victims being the women who get fucked for a miniscular amount of money, but that too is relative perhaps.
At the Patpong market I bought some souvenirs for various people. At one stall I took a liking for a copy of a Montblanc ballpoint pen. The lady wanted 800 bath for it. I didn’t like the price so I offered 500 bath. After a few minutes of haggling, I decided to walk away. She stopped me and said, “ok, ok 300 bath”. I was surprised because it was 200 bath cheaper than I was offering, so I bought the pen without any arguments.
9 August 2007.
Took a boat ride on the Chao Phraya and visited Wat Arun – a temple. When I woke up this morning I thought of last night’s trip to Pat Pong and I remembered an 80s song by Alphaville, it goes “One night in Bangkok makes the hard man humble, notmuch between despair and ecstasy, I can feel the devil walking next to me”. The devils in this case were the touts harassing me with plastic files with pictures and posters trying to entice me to shows where they had tiger shows and god knows what else.
My group went to Jatucak: place with a market, a couple of malls and a bazaar area cramped closely together. Our tour guide told us that hisplace was huge and cautioned us to careful not to get lost. When I saw the place, I guessed that he had never been to Midvalley KL. Mr Ahmad, the tour guide, however, did accurately descibe the palce as selling cheap goods or unpredictable quality.
I noticed that here too they had an elaborate shrine outside the shopping complex. These are not devoted to Buddha however, instead this the one in Jatucak, as were many others I saw, was devoted to different dieties including a many limbed one. I was reminded of a Sufi story about King Solomon meeting a scorpion. The Prophet – King asked the scorpion what God was like and the scorpion said, “We have one sting; God has two”.
I bought some souvenirs. I noticed that there were Muslim traders almost everywhere in Bangkok as long as you looked for them. As I walked among the food hawkers in front of the Jatucak Mall, I saw a Muslim trader’s stall selling noodles in soup. For a moment, I was tempted to try but across the path, a few feew away from the Muslim trader was a stall selling pork sausages. I thought, I’d wait for a while longer because I was told that we were going to for Arabic food later.
We had dinner at the Nana district in the Sukhimvit area. It’s a place where Arabic, Indian and Muslim from all over live, trade and congregate. Admittedly the food was nice but not so nice. I would certainly look fo this place again if I come to Bangkok again.
11 August 2007.
My Montblanc pen ran out of ink, expectedly, today. After a few attempts at looking for a montblanc refill, I discovered that it takes a standard parker pen refill.
The last day was relaxing. I walked around centrral Bangkok taking pictures of shrines and people. Ronald MacDonald was ‘wai’ing (traditional Thai greeting pose) instead of waving.
Our flight was at around 8 pm. As we were walking around the sprawling Suvarnabumi airport, I thought I saw Tengku Nazrin of Perak with a few official looking people but I could not be certain because when I got to where he was, he was gone. I think he had just exited the prayer room.
It rained quite heavily but the rain died nown a little when we took off. God, how I hate flying in the rain.
Thankfully, I got back in one piece.
I took some photos when I was there. If you are interested in seeing the photos, please visit my photobucket page. I'll add the URL later.
- ▼ October (6)
- ► 2008 (74)
- ► 2009 (106)
- ► 2010 (53)
- ► 2011 (25)
- ► 2012 (18)