Posts Tagged ‘Siam’

Daves Raves – My First Thailand Trip

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Buddhist Temples Bangkok Thailand 001 - Daves Raves - My First Thailand TripPREFACE – This month marks the anniversary of my very first trip to Thailand.  Because I flew to Bangkok exactly 20 years ago, I thought it would be a good opportunity to include this article about my initial thoughts and observations.  Shortly after my virgin voyage to the Land Of Smiles, I wrote a piece about that extraordinary experience.  The scene is set, as we travel back in time to a scorching hot season two decades ago… 

BANGKOK – ONE CITY, ONE MILLION CONFUSIONS

My first impression of Bangkok was one of absolute bewilderment.  Taking in this city of contrasts was proving to be very challenging.  My initial reaction was to feel numbed from head to foot from culture shock.  Bangkok — one city, one million confusions.  My senses were paralyzed from the very first moment I met Bangkok face to face; the tremendous noise, dreadful air pollution, appalling traffic, horrendous heat and total chaos.  Bangkok was certainly living up to its reputation of having the world’s worst traffic congestion and lowest oxygen count.  If Bangkok was anything to go by, Thailand and I had certainly not fallen in love at first sight. 

Bangkok Thailand 001 - Daves Raves - My First Thailand TripI began to wonder which one of Bangkok’s lethal attributes would kill me first — the deadly drivers, the kamikaze motorcyclists, the polluted air, the lack of oxygen… or would I just simply perish from the unrelenting heat?  The Thais call their capital Krungthep, which means “City Of Angels.”  I can assure you, I could not find anything remotely angelic about this catastrophic city on my first introduction.

WHAT ON EARTH HAVE I DONE? 

I was full of great expectations moments earlier on theTuk Tuk Taxi Bangkok Thailand 01 - Daves Raves - My First Thailand Trip plane, anticipating the pleasures of being seduced by Siam, but I landed with a resounding bump, and was only bemused by Bangkok.  I stepped out of the luxurious air-conditioned Don Muang airport, and was tenaciously greeted by the savage furnace-like heat of Bangkok.  I gasped for air as the stifling atmosphere pinned itself to the back of my throat.  My initial thoughts turned to those of shock and I thought, am I totally insane for coming here?  Yes, I reflected.  What on earth have I done?  Never before had I suffered the full affects of culture shock, but Bangkok was initiating me to it with the subtlety of a heavy whack on the head.

IT AIN’T HALF HOT MUM! 

My friend, who came to meet me at Don Muang International Airport, read the expression on my face and uttered in a quiet voice, “It’s a really scorching hot season, even the Thais are complaining about the heat this year.”  In a state of confusion I thought, how could anybody stand this heat? 

MBK SHOPPING CENTRE BANGKOK THAILAND 01 - Daves Raves - My First Thailand TripWe loaded my luggage in the boot and got into my friend’s car.  I sighed with relief, while I had shelter away from the searing heat.  I was still numb as we began to crawl along the roads, clawing for every few inches we could seize.  It seemed to me that whilst on Bangkok roads, you are either riding on the wings of death or trapped like insects in a jam jar — there is no happy medium.  Waves of cool air soothed my weary body; I momentarily closed my eyes as the air-conditioner hummed its tune. 

ROAD TO HELL 

It is estimated that anywhere from 6-8 million people reside in Bangkok alone, and several million vehicles cram the main roads into gridlock.  I was pondering the fact that it is not surprising Bangkok’s roads have such a notorious reputation.  Whilst I continued to struggle to come to terms with Bangkok’s roads, an entire family of four passed by us.  They were all crammed onto one tiny motorbike.  Was I delirious?

Street Eat Soi Nana 02 - Daves Raves - My First Thailand TripThis massive, sprawling metropolis was not my idea of a tropical paradise.  At best, it was Central London at the worst peak of rush hour multiplied several fold.  Even more disturbing — what about the road users?  My Lord!  I was looking on in horror as vehicles of all kinds played dodge ‘ems with each other.  Streams of traffic were travelling at high speed bumper-to-bumper, criss-crossing in and out of any lane they cared to choose.  Just then, a motorcyclist passed in front of the rows of traffic diagonally.  Unbelievably, some of the traffic was quite evidently not even going in the same direction.  Not only that, but the locals appeared so totally blasé about it all. 

Flying To Bangkok Thailand 01 - Daves Raves - My First Thailand TripSuddenly, we broke away from the traffic jam, because an open stretch of road appeared.  The speed of the other vehicles put my head into a permanent spin.  Young motorcyclists were weaving in and out of the paths of cars, buses and lorries, all with the daring of motorbike boy racers.  Furthermore, I was horrified to notice that nobody was wearing a crash helmet.  I was in a world of my own being entertained by this strange spectator sport.  I concluded that this was certainly not for the uninitiated.  I continued to be astonished by the way these daredevil motorbike riders negotiated intricate swerves and lane changes, all at death-defying high speeds.

THE GREAT ESCAPE

At long last we escaped the congested traffic and were on the way to Pattaya.  A new adventure was about to unfold…

SUMMARY – 20 YEARS LATER

Since my first encounter 20 years ago, the City Of Angels has certainly grown on me.  Finally, I decided to leave England 10 years ago and Bangkok has been my home ever since.

Bangkok was certainly different in 1988 compared to the modern city it is today. There was no BTS Skytrain, no MRT Subway, no modern traffic lights systems, and no crash helmets. Visually speaking it was a drab, grey, city. Today, even though this massive metropolis is even more heavily populated, I think it looks much better. The number of buildings and hotels that have been erected is simply staggering. Getting around the capital has become a lot easier.  This alone is a tremendous improvement.  If you are located close to a BTS Skytrain or MRT Subway station, you will reach your destination in no time.  Furthermore, these two modern modes of transportation are convenient, comfortable, inexpensive and safe.

 

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Celebrating Songkran – Thai New Year

Monday, April 14th, 2008

After Dark Asia Volume 6 - Celebrating Songkran - Thai New YearSawatdee Pee Mai Kap!  Or in English, Happy Thai New Year!  For those of you who are in Thailand, I sincerely hope that you are having a happy and a safe Songkran.  I say “safe” because every year hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries are reported.  WATER WARFARE WARNING — Ensure that you are extra careful on the roads during the Songkran water festival.  Most of Thailand celebrate Songkran from April 13th — 15th, but in Pattaya it started yesterday and it will continue until next weekend.  I thought that I had better post this as a reminder.  So guys, be aware that the Pattaya “water war” will last until April 20th.  This year a lot of bargirls have gone home, leaving most go-go bars with fewer go-go dancers.  Even though it is Thai New Year, the closing times in Bangkok remain between 1:00am and 2:00am.  Down in Pattaya most of the go-go bars, pubs and clubs are closing late again.  Good news for the Pattaya party animals.  Party on!  The Thai authorities announced that LARGE water cannons would be outlawed.  However, although the supermarkets listened, there are plenty of big water guns for sale on the street.  You can put that down to the idiosyncrasy of “Amazing Thailand” I guess. I dared to venture out onto the streets of Bangkok this afternoon.  And, as per usual, it’s wild ‘n’ crazy out there folks!  When that ice water hits you and you get cologne powder in your eyes; now that’s a killer!

angelwitch logo - Celebrating Songkran - Thai New Year

ANGELWITCH GO-GO BAR WILL BE CLOSED ON APRIL 15th

To show respect to the staff in Angelwitch Go-Go Bar, the management have decided to close Angelwitch on April 15th.  It will just be for the one night to allow the Thai staff to enjoy Songkran.  Please note that Angelwitch in Nana Plaza will be closed tomorrow, but Angelwitch in Pattaya will be open.    

THAI SONGKRAN HISTORY AND TRADITION

Buddhist Temples Bangkok Thailand 001 - Celebrating Songkran - Thai New YearThe traditional Songkran water festival is a very elegant ceremony, which originated from ancient Siam.  The official Thai New Year is celebrated from April 13th – 15th.  Orchid flowers were placed into silver bowls containing special scented water.  Younger members of Thai families would gently sprinkle the Songkran water over their elder relative’s hands.  This special water was also gently poured onto the shoulder of an elder.  Your own body had to be thoroughly cleaned, along with your house.  You could call it “religious spring cleaning.”  Songkran in Thailand is not just a tradition of external cleansing, but also personal cleansing of the mind and spirit.  Buddha images are thoroughly washed and sprinkled with special scented water.  Flower garlands are hung around the necks of the Buddha images.  This is then followed by respectful prayers.  Throughout Thailand’s multitude of “wats” (Thai temples), you can here the humming tones of Thai people reciting Pali.  (Pali is the ancient scripture of Theravada Buddhism).

AFTER DARK ASIA MAGAZINE VOLUME 6

I have been informed that the newest edition of After Dark Asia magazine will be on sale just after Songkran.  Look out for After Dark Asia volume 6 on the newsstands throughout Bangkok and Pattaya.  After Dark Asia has established itself as Thailand’s top go-go girly magazine.  The photography is excellent.  A copy of After Dark Asia will set you back 150 Baht.  Check out the HOT go-go girls!

 

 

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