Chuck Hillig's Travel Blog

Well, I'm going to be doing a lot of traveling over the next 6-7 months so I thought that I'd better re-activate my travel blog. The last time I posted anything here was way back in 2006 when I was traveling through SE Asia. Feel free to read my entries back then about my earlier adventures through India,Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines and Hong Kong. This time (at least for the next six weeks), I'll be traveling through Greece and Turkey.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Down to Bangkok...

After spending a delightful last evening in Chiang Mai with Tom and Barbara, I flew down to Bangkok on Wednesday morning. Although I had spent five days here back in 1988, I could immediately notice the increase in traffic, air pollution and the numerous cranes sprouting all over the city that were putting up more high-rise buildings. Unlike how it was in 1988, Bangkok now has tollways, elevated trains and even subways. However, with the increase of vehicular traffic, the streets during rush hour are still often paralyzed in gridlock. It's often faster to walk which is what I mostly did. Things are surprisingly more expensive here than they were in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. For example, a foot massage in Bangkok will cost you about 250 Baht (about twice what I paid up north). As expected, there are a lot of "working girls" in Bangkok....especially in the tourist places like down in the infamous Patpong Road area. Now, however, Patpong is a lot more commercialized than it was back in 1988. They've erected many shops down the center of the street that sell the usual "touristy" stuff: lots of sexually suggestive T-shirts, sandals, shirts, pirated DVDs and CDs, and, of course, foods and drink of every description. Ironically, right next to the major sex-bars in Patpong, there are many shops here that sell statues of Buddha and other eastern deities. As the tourists walk along through the area, the touts in front of the bars present them with a written "menu" of what they will see inside the bar. As you might expect, the descriptions on these "menus" of what takes place during the shows inside are both graphic and definitely XXX-rated. Beer on Patpong is also about twice as expensive as it is up north. Most of the "working girls" (about 18-28 years old ) have come from small towns and villages around Thailand and they're expected to send a good portion of their money back to their families to support them. Some other observations around Bangkok: 1) When you purchase a ticket to see a movie, you actually have to reserve a particular seat in the theatre. Even though there may be only a few people at the showing, you are still expected to sit in your assigned seat. 2) Although they show the latest American movies for about US$2.50 (I just saw MI-3 with Thai subtitles), they still make you pay 2 Baht for toilet paper in the bathroom. 3) Speaking of bathrooms, most of the places that I've been staying at do not have a specific shower area. Instead, there's nozzle that's attached to the wall that you use to hose yourself down. The water empties through a drain in the floor and, naturally, the bathroom has a 2-3 inch lip that keeps the water inside that area. Although they have western-style toilets, there is always a small hose and nozzle that's next to the toilet itself that you can use to wash those nether regions with water. I went down to check out the new Siam Center and the well-known MBK Building. Lots of high-end stuff for sale, and I decided to upgrade my digital camera before beginning my day-long tour of the main Bangkok attractions tomorrow. On Sunday, I'm heading down to Pattaya for further adventures. More later...

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