Second Time Around travel blog

Night market in daylight

Fellow tourists


Tourist downtown Bangkok is hard to like. Two major issues are heat and crowds.

The heat is a drastic change from Morocco and Greece. Throw in the humidity and our pace has slowed to a shuffle.

More shuffling is required at the major tourist sites. We managed on our own to see two in two days. One was the giant reclining Buddha of Wat Po. The other was the Royal Palace which includes the Emerald Buddha.

Approaching the sites, I never saw so many tourist buses. Ever. Dozens were lined up, each sqeezing out maximum numbers of passengers. Passengers formed mainly into guide-shepherded herds. You realize quickly to work around and between the herds to avoid becoming emmeshed.

At key spots, though, the scrum is unavoidable. Back to front, toe to heel, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, nearly sharing the same breath of stale air with those enclosing you. The crowd takes away any reverence you might want to convey.

Away from crowded highlights, many of our fellow tourists - Russians, French, Americans, Canadians, German, Chinese, Japanese for starters - are simply disgusting. Rude, slovenly, and disrespectful are first in mind descriptors. Especially around the night market where younger, backpacker types hang out for booze and other pleasures.

I was relieved to join our tour group on our third evening. Our fellow Intrepid passengers are not rude, slovenly, or disrespectful. Our leader, Rong, described our itinerary, reminding me we were in for a primarily rural experience.

Indeed, our first organized event was a look by boat at the "villages" of Bangkok: Venice-like canals lined with houses, temples, businesses, and the like

Rong took us to the Reclining Buddha. Rong was a novice monk at 18, serving three years. His deep knowledge helped rescue the site for me. Still, Mo and I can't wait to get out of town.

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