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Welcome to Bangkok

March 25, 2006 Bangkok

We stayed in Bangkok for 3 days at a great hotel with kitchen suite, comfy beds, and internet access. Took several hours to read/respond to email and update the website. Our view was pretty spectacular.

hotelview

I visited Pan Tik Plaza, THE place to go for computer stuff in Bangkok. Supposed to be very inexpensively priced items, but I really didn't find the things I was looking for. I did purchase some DVD-R's for about 25 cents each, but they didn't work and that's about the same price that I pay in the states. I wanted to get a microphone for my iPod that I would use to record my insightful comments for you--hey, a vacation worth doing is worth recording, right?

Pan Tik Plaza is like any other marketplace in Thailand. Busy and crowded, but it's amplified by all the lights, loud sounds, vendors clamoring for your attention. Just like a computer convention, only more. And the place is huge.

pantikplaza

The best deals here are the pirated software and movies. I could get a copy of the latest version Dreamweaver Website Creator for $3.00 (in the states it's about $300). Windows XP Pro will set you back <$10 here.

As you may know, Bangkok is the capital of Thailand. The name means the “City of Angels” and was constructed in 1782. Presently, Bangkok has about 10 million people and it is considered one of the biggest cities in the world. One of the main places to see in Bangkok is the Grand Palace.

grandpalace

The Grand Palace is the city landmark on a huge compound, surrounded by the big white wall and has an area of about 1.5 square kilometers. Nicky and the girls went to the Grand Palace even though they knew it would be very 'touristy' and they don’t offer either a movie or a drink.

I know I talked about the driving in Thailand, but multiply the craziness by 10 and you'll get an idea of the driving in Bangkok. At some intersections they have a countdown timer, presumably to let you know how much time is left until the light turns either green or red. In reality, this timer is to let you know how much time you have left to live until your driver races into the intersection and you die a bloody and horrible death. So really, it’s a very nice service that the Thai people have afforded us Westerners—we have anywhere from 37 to 115 seconds to put our affairs in order before move on to the next life. There’s a reason they call Bangkok, “The City of Angels.”

I tried to capture the craziness of the driving in this short video clip. While the driver was quite tame as compared to others we used, I swear that he did some kind of maneuver that allowed him to turn completely upside down. I think I caught it on the video clip here:

Bangkok Driving Video

Note: if you can not see the video, download QuickTime and view the movie with it.

quicktime logo (4K)

While in Bangkok we purchased a couple of those “Cup O Noodles” for lunch. I found the most amazing invention in one of these cups—a folding plastic fork. It’s ingeniously engineered, fits nicely into the dry cup, and it’s an entirely well-packaged meal. Just add hot water and you have your food and utensils.

We also went to a dinner/theatre to see authentic Thai dancing and fighting. Figured it would be quite touristy and we weren't disappointed. But it was good fun and the girls enjoyed the show.

Thaidancing

The girls and I also took a short ride in a Tuk Tuk. These strange creatures are ubiquitous in Bangkok. They are a mix between a three-wheeled motorcycle and a small car. They are actually motorized rickshaws, and are usually a bit faster than taxis because of their smaller sizes. They also have a unique ability to automatically split themselves into two or three parts so they can more quickly navigate the Bangkok traffic.

tuktuk

We found a bunch of these lined up outside our hotel one evening and I gave the guy about $4 to take us for a cool ride around the town. As tuk-tuks are open to the elements, they expose passengers to the high pollution levels in the middle of Bangkok's roads. They’ve cleverly turned this into a tourist attraction, marketing the Tuk Tuk riding experience as a, “Trip Through Chernobyl.” There is supposedly a ban on new tuk-tuks as they are so noisy and polluting, but it doesn't really seem to be being enforced at present.

Lessons learned:

  • They don't allow you to purchase beer or wine between 2pm and 5pm. I guess that's when we should be either praying or napping.
  • People here spit everywhere, especially the old people. What a beautiful site to walk down the streets and hear Grandma hocking a huge loogey…

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