Bangkok in Chaos

or Chaos in Bangkok?

I have tried to make this piece not sounding so cliche, but I think chaos is still the best way to describe Bangkok. Not necessarily in a bad way.

I started my second day in Bangkok full of determination to go to Platinum Fashion Mall. Our hotel is located 600 meters away. Google Maps excitedly told us that the walk will only take 8 minutes.

However 8 minutes are not the same in 2 different places…

That 8 minutes is the same amount of time I need to walk from my rented room in Singapore to the nearest train station. In that 8 minutes, I probably would be walking while holding my phone, sneaking some Instagram or Facebook scrolling while waiting for the traffic light to change. Probably a like or a double tap or two. And then I would walk on a sheltered walkway all smooth and shiny all the way to the train station.

In Bangkok, however….

“Ratchaprarop Road, Bangkok, Thailand” (CC BY 2.0) by David McKelvey. Sidenote: this is the real road I was passing through as I stayed nearby.

There was a pushcart selling fruits on my right. And on my left the eager staff were yelling “Masaj, masaj”. The walkway was sandy and had cracks all over. A section of which had a long, jagged line that could only be made by a 2-wheeler passing through wet cement. I walked a little more. In front of the “Bombay Palace” restaurant there were people selling knick-knacks and lottery numbers. People were standing and waiting for non-air-conditioned buses at a barely marked bus stop without any shelter whatsoever. I climbed the pedestrian overhead bridge and was promptly greeted with even more makeshift stalls selling cheap sandals and t-shirts. I arrived at the crossing to the mall. There was a painted zebra cross. There was no traffic light with a green man. Waving hands were the green men. Traffic just had to wait while hands were waving. And so I crossed the street, sweaty, sticky, and with hands waving. There was no time to check Instagram or Facebook.

There is so much chaos and in much chaos there is much life.

Perhaps, the next time I do the 8 minutes walk I take from my place to the train station, I should look up and see the life around me.


Some other notes from my Bangkok trip:

  • Uber is great if you want to avoid no-meter taxis.
  • Pratunam area is a good place to stay if you want to do a lot of shopping. The downside is that there is no BTS (Skytrain) or MRT (underground) station around unless you walk 15–20 minutes. Then again, use Uber. See above.
  • Khaosan road is way overrated. It’s all boring tourist stalls (I didn’t even bother to try the pad thai) and bars. No life. Go to Yaowarat / Chinatown instead. Try the toasted bread and get the butter-chilli combination. Sounds weird but oh so good.
  • Try taking the boat (Chao Phraya Express Boat) to hop from the Grand Palace to Wat Pho. Of course it is also walkable, but hey, boat! The breeze is a great relief from the heat. Ignore the people trying to sell you the 40 Baht ticket. Hop on and pay 14 Baht instead.
  • Platinum Fashion Mall is huge. Even huge is an understatement. Bring a shopping bag, or better still a shopping trolley or even a suitcase. Totally saw the ladies bringing those around. The shopping is not that environmentally friendly because it will yield you a lot of plastic bags. Stuff them in your bag/trolley/suitcase instead.
  • Mid-day sun is hot. Go inside an air-conditioned mall.
  • Thank God for cheap foot massages.

Have you been to Bangkok? Did you enjoy its chaos? Feel free to respond.

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