Monday, September 02, 2013

A Trip to Thailand and Laos

Last year I had the privilege of spending 5 weeks in Thailand and Laos. The people are wonderful, friendly, helpful, kind, infinitely forgiving of foreigners' faux pas, and they love to party! The land and climate are so different from BC! Cost of getting there is high, cost of being there is very low.

You will not starve. You will struggle with the heat and humidity, showers that may just trickle, some toilets that you may have to squat over to use. You may travel in buses that are old and rickety on roads that may not exactly be the TransCanada or Germany's Autobahn. If you are lucky enough you may find a seat on the trains with fans and windows that open. And you will love it there.

Trying to compress 5 weeks of travel into a blog post is well nigh impossible so I will occasionally post a few pics and write a bit about my impressions. Starting now:

We flew from Vancouver to Tokyo's Narita Airport. I was very sad actually and the reason is that in all of the reading about other cities the thing you never experience is the smell of a place. Mexico City has a certain smell - of hot dust, charred corn from the market stalls, clean clothes. In Paris you can smell the dampness of the Seine River, smell 2,000 years of people living, eating, dying, growing things, breathing. So, emerging from the jet at Narita, I was looking forward to knowing what Japan smelled like. Only to be disappointed by the hermetically sealed building. I could look out the windows at a view suspiciously like Vancouver's - flat airport concrete, gray, rain, mist. But no scent - Narita is just another sterile concrete and glass building. Could be anywhere.

On to Bangkok. Built on, around and over the Chao Phraya River and an intricate canal system close to the where the delta empties into the Gulf of Thailand. The predominant scents are river, fish, heat, humidity, vehicle exhaust, people, food cooking - it's a wonderfully heady richness. The place itself is big, noisy, a delightful mixture of old and new, traditional and ultra-modern - in clothing, architecture, transportation, shipping, available foodstuffs, buildings going up, buildings coming down, people, people, people!

View from the Bangkok Skytrain. The mix of horrendously complicated wiring and the intricate carvings on the roofs, foodstands everywhere, motorbikes, scooters, real estate signs. Busy city 24/7
We took a day to wander up and down the river, hopping on and off water taxis to explore. Very inexpensive and a wonderful way to see what Bangkok is really all about.
This might be a restaurant. Plenty of these are usually associated with the finer hotels that line the river banks.

A royal palace?

Not great pics. Was having trouble with my camera. And I always seemed to be in motion!
More later.

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