I arrived in Bangkok alone and shaken by the events that has taken place in Shanghai. I was picked up at the airport by Chip, my old boss’s nephew, who has so graciously agreed to house my plethora of large bags until I return to the US in a few weeks. Knowing I had someone to meet me at the airport when I arrived, alone when I had planned to be with a friend, helped my peace of mind tremendously.
I was told by a friend that Bangkok was similar to Manila, which I visited in February, so I was expecting the worst. I was pleasantly surprised. Bangkok is quite metropolitan, with many upscale parts of the city.
My hotel was in a central section, near the infamous Kaosan Road. The streets were thronged with tourists in their elephant pants, street food vendors, and tuk tuk drivers demanding way too much money for a ride. Exhausted, I immediately fell asleep.
The next day I met Kim, a friend of Tamsyn’s, and we hit it off right away. We were picked up at 6am for a day trip out of Bangkok to visit the Bridge on the River Kwai.
The bridge was made famous by the 1957 movie, but historical inaccuracies abound. After the fall of Singapore during WWII, Japanese soldiers forced tens of thousands of Allied POWs and native Malay people to build a railroad through the harsh jungles of Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). 20,000 POWs and over 100,000 natives were worked to death. It is said for every railroad tie laid, one person died. It was chilling to ride the train and imagine the atrocities that had taken place here.
It amazes me that no matter where I go in the world, I can find a piece of WWII history. It just underlines the tragic scale of the war.
Our second day in Bangkok, we visited the Royal Palace with the entire population of China, which I thought I’d escaped when I left the country. The palace was beautiful, boasting curling, sparkling architecture unlike anything I had encountered before.
That evening, as the heat faded, Kim and I treated ourselves at the infamous Sky Bar on the 64th floor of Bangkok’s Lebua Tower. This upscale restaurant and bar was featured in the movie Hangover 2, which I haven’t seen, but Kim was very excited about.
The view was absolutely incredible, and though we paid way too much for drinks, it was fun to pretend we were part of the uppercrust of society for a night.
That was the finale of two short days in Bangkok, a city I had heard so many negative things about, and far exceeded my expectations. I will end back up there two more times before the end of the trip, but I definitely will not mind at all.