Can Bangkok redeem itself?

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October 3rd 2009
Published: October 3rd 2009
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We were glad to be leaving Malaysia after spending nearly a month there. Not that there is anything wrong with the country, its just not the best place we have been. There aren’t many sights to see and everything involves doing an expensive tour. The tours though are excellent, but with a budget in mind there were a bit out of our range. We did do some but probably not as many as we would have liked too. The food was also very repetitive with the option of fried rice, fried noodles or chicken curry. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but it was quite boring. The people were not as friendly as other countries we have met and we weren’t quite sure was that because they were reserved or just plain unfriendly. We didn’t come across any nasty people but it felt like you were a bit out of place. Again, these are just our feelings and I’m sure others would disagree with us. The difference with Malaysia was apparent as soon as we landed in Thailand. Big huge smiles (clichéd but true), food menu’s like books and more sights to see than you could actually fit in.

We got a taxi from the airport to Khao San Road, where the main backpacker haunts are. KSR was not a place we enjoyed that much the last time we were in Bangkok, over 18 months ago. It was in your face, constant harassment, from taxi drivers, tuk tuk drivers, tailors and just about anyone and everyone with something to sell. When we got out of the taxi we headed straight to the little side street where our hostel was. No one bothered us! This turned out to be the way for the next few days. Ya, you got the odd guy trying to sell his wares, but it was a lot less hassle this time. We couldn’t figure out why? Was it because we have been travelling now for over 6 months and unfazed by this kind of treatment, or had everyone in Bangkok held a meeting and said, ‘hey, why don’t we lay off the tourists a bit and let them enjoy our city and if they want a suit or tuk tuk they will get one, without being pestered’. It was a lot better this time and hopefully it will remain this way, as we will be returning a few times before heading home. Also, someone in Bangkok decided that putting cocktails in a bucket was a good idea. Let me tell you it is not, but why not see for yourself! They also gave out glow sticks for your wrists with each drink bought and there is a rumour of me and Michelle spotted dancing in a nightclub holding a bucket in one hand and a glow stick in the other. It’s completely untrue ; )

The food. Ah, the food. It doesn’t get better than here. Our first place we went to eat had a menu like an encyclopaedia. Green, red, yellow, panang and massaman curry, the last one being my favourite. I have tried desperately to make the massaman I got on Phi Phi the last time we were here and have failed. Although, the one I make is feckin gorgeous (only jokin’) it is hard to perfect it. I had to try it and see was it as good as I had remembered. It was actually the same as the one I make at home, except with cashew nuts thrown in for good measure. One thing about the curries here, is that you’ll never find two the same. Everyone has their own way of making it and you can expect to find a wide variety of different ingredients. We also got to try some mango and sticky rice again. Its honestly one of the nicest things to eat and was still as good as the first time we tried it. One evening we walked up and down KSR, eating from food stalls and watching the world go by. We didn’t do any sightseeing in Bangkok because we will be back a few times again.

We wanted to get on the road and we have been a long time planning and dreaming about our return here. Our first port of call was Kanchanaburi. Probably means nothing to most of you and the movie ‘The bridge on the river Kwai’ probably doesn’t either. For those who do know the movie we are here to see the famous bridge and also to take a train on the famous death railway. Kanchanaburi has some amazing history. During WWII the Japanese invaded Siam(Thailand) and Burma(Mynamar) and wanted to build a railway line from Bangkok to Rangoon. POW’s from commonwealth countries plus the local population were enslaved to build it. They had to work under desperate conditions and many died. From what I can remember nearly 100,000 died, including 12,000 POW’s. On our first day here we visited a war cemetery where Australian, British and Indian soldiers are remembered. A quick walk through the cemetery and it’s hard not to notice the strong Irish surnames like Murphy, O’Sullivan, O’Driscoll, Boyle, Lynch, Reilly etc etc. These were mainly in the Australian section and obviously the sons of recent Irish immigrants to Australia, perhaps some were even Irish themselves. It has been a common theme through our travels and most countries we have visited had some important Irish person in there history. The reason I say this is that we are a small country with a small population and have done better for ourselves than our size suggests. We also went to a war Museum called JEATH, which stands for Japanese, English, Australian, Thailand and Holland. It was full of interesting facts about the conditions the POW’s had to endure and what lives they would have lived, most suffering from dysentery, malaria and malnutrition to name but a few.

Tomorrow we are going on a tour for the day. We will visit a national park and a 7 tiered waterfall. Then we will go to Hellfire Pass and take a trip back on a train along the Death Railway and over the bridge on the river Kwai. Just so we would be up to date on things we watched the whole movie. It won 8 Oscars( I think) when released in 1957. The truth be known though, is that the bridge we will visit isn’t the actual bridge in the movie. In fact its not even the river Kwai!!! But hey, tourists come here in numbers, all for the experience and its great for the town.

In a bit. DH

Song of the blog: Rockstar - Nickleback

ps Bangkok has redeemed itself for now!

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4th October 2009

Your right
"Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but it was quite boring. The people were not as friendly as other countries we have met and we weren’t quite sure was that because they were reserved..." These are my same thoughts having visited there twice some years apart.The second time to check out if the country has changed. The reason I think is the conservative nature of the country which influences all aspects in life and acceptance of foreign ways. However I can never understand why the people have embraced the many Western Shopping Mall with their KFC and McDonalds?
4th October 2009

Malaysia rocks :)
hey! i just came randomly across your blog as another travelblog user and gotta say ... i have had the bestest of times in Malaysia. Definitely because I was hanging out with the locals (via couchsurfing) and they have showed me hospitality unbeaten by any other country. But even with the non-CSers, I have been treated - true, not always with a smile like the Thais, but - with genuine friendliness and interest. I felt so welcome here it made me come back only after half a year :))) But it definitely is different than Thailand or any other buddhist country, for sure! I just wanted to say that regardless of the religion difference, my time in MAlaysia compared to the one in Thailand was much, much more warmeharted. :) All the best!
4th October 2009

the food
oh ya, and not to mention the food! omg!!! there's SO MUCH more to it than just noodles and rice, omg, it is neverending!! as i"ve said, i am here the second time and label myself as a foodie and have not yet tried everything there is ... it's endless! :)
4th October 2009

Yea, KSR is much better now, the first time we were there it was constant hassle, but now its how it should be, chilled, i reckon people there have just got more money now and are more content? And as far as the food? its still right at the top of my list!! I would kill for a proper papaya salad and red curry king fish right now, enjoy Paul-and-emma@travelblog .org

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