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a tiring city

sunny 93 °F
View Summer - Fall 2009 on efstein's travel map.

I arrived in Bangkok in the evening off a flight from Phuket. Blake, my then travel partner was quite adamant about staying near the backpacker haven of Koah Sahn Road. My friends from home had all advised me against this neighborhood as its a bit shady and definitely not Thai for it caters to westerners. That being said, I liked staying there.  Its definitely a scene, basically its a nightly carnival of public drinking, cheap eats, and touristy markets.  But the sheer enormity of Bangkok makes it inherently easier to head for the masses of backpackers rather than go it alone.  As a fan of big cities I really wanted to appreciate and enjoy Bangkok. This is not an easy thing to do. Bangkok's streets are a maze of confusion. I would set out with a destination in mind and would within minutes be lost.  Add to this an oppressing ninety degree heat, and lastly, and most depressingly, dozens and dozens of annoying scam artists offering to be your friend and take you around the city in their cars.  Scam jobs thrive in Bangkok and I can see why, its a place that makes even the most self-assured independent traveler gulp and struggle.

The details of my time there are not really that important.  The highs included going to the famed Sunday weekend market, the largest in Thailand, and finally learning how to navigate the city on the river ferries. By my last day there I was comfortable walking around various neighborhoods and I could get around confidently by taxi or ferry. I found the locals distant in a way that locals in big cities (NYC) can be distant from tourists, and really, Bangkok was enjoyable within the confines of the backpacker world that Koh Sahn provided. Blake and I met some guys and girls we had previously met on Koh Phi Phi, so there were some social evenings.  

Now that I have had the benefit of a week in the northern province city of Chaing Mai, I can say that any future trips to Thailand will not emphasize Bangkok any more than I have to. I enjoyed Bangkok and would have stayed longer if I had the time I think you would need a long period of time there to truly begin enjoying the city, or a local to help your out. But even so, with the air pollution and general difficulties one encounters with all large cities combined with the benefits of traveling in the less visited north its just not worth it unless you have ample time.

Posted by efstein 02:04 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking

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