21/02/13 A Quick Trip To Paris
Craig writes: Bangkok, who would have thought just six million people could make so much pollution. There is a permanent fog of noxious gas hanging over this very broad and tall city that I have yet to encountered anywhere else. I found the air hard to breathe, my energy levels were constantly down and my mood was decidedly crabby. I did not enjoy this place. If cruising big air conditioned shopping centres is your thing you'll be fine. Sure, there are the usual cheap eateries, markets, massage places and some sites to see but there is no charm or character here. There are plenty of signs to warn you of bag snatchers on motor bikes and you can't catch a cab without being taken to a silk shop, a tailor or a jewellery store.
We did have a good day when we got out of the city and went to Dreamworld. It was the celebration for Charlie's birthday that we promised him back when he had to spend his big day in museums and palaces. The big attraction here was Snow Town. No actual snow but lots and lots of crushed and flaked ice. I think we all had visions of it being a bit like Narnia with endless places to explore and hide, soft powdery snow to roll in, to make snow angels and have long lobbing snow ball fights. Alas no. It was cold though, minus 7. There was a cool toboggan slide and you could make "snow balls" of a fashion. Without gloves though, trying to make a "snow ball" literally left your hands numb. If you did manage to press one out, which we did, throwing it at each other was out of the question. They were a solid block of ice. You could throw these things through a plate glass window, twice. We had thoughts of spending a couple of hours in there but they only supply with you a pair of plastic boots and a thin jacket designed to make sure you don't linger to long. Twenty minutes later, after half a dozen short toboggan rides and a photo op with the polar bear and the Woolly Mammoth we were out in the warm muggy air. At the risk of sounding like a theme park tosser, it's ok but it ain't Disneyland. There's some good rides and some pretty lame ones. The crowds aren't that bad although the 50 minute wait for the two minute Space Mountain ride, with no 360s, was the only real clanger. Still, the boys had a great time, Christina managed to escape and grab an hour long foot rub and Callum and I did some damage on the bumper cars.
I knew the Thai's had a great respect and admiration for their Royal family but the city is practically a monument to them. There are pictures, elaborate shrines and massive billboards everywhere. Mostly portraits of him looking very earnest and regal in the full royal regalia with a chest full of medals and colourful pins. There was an odd one of him near the airport dressed in some nice designer casual wear. He's wearing an open neck shirt with a camera slung around his neck like he's a tourist just popping up from the country to visit a few temples and take some happy snaps. Maybe thats his wink and a nod to the common people. He is definitely a total rock star here. The Queen also has her fare share of exposure, but there is no doubt it is the Kings show.
For our last meal in Asia we decided to leave the boys in the hotel and go to Paris. Well Paris in Bangkok. The write up said it was ranked 116 out of 1600 reviewed restaurants, and, only 100 metres from our hotel. Being a Friday night we didn't fancy our chances but it was our last night and real close. So, you could imagine our surprise when at 8pm we walk in to find just us and one other couple. Apparently a major traffic jam in the city and some big cancellations had kept the place empty. As one of only two potential sources of tips for the evening we were given maximum attention. At one stage we had four waiters hovering, two loitered permanently. One literally stood three metres away, staring intently and trying to anticipate our every need. No glass stood empty for more than a few seconds , the bread basket was never empty and if I made the mistake of glancing his way he'd be on me like fat on a hog to ask if everything was alright. By the time we left the restaurant he was finishing my sentences for me.
Outside of the city, I like Thailand. It's modern in parts with enough village charm in others to know your in an old country with a culture borne of a millennia of complex, intriguing and often violent history.
We've loved it here, like we have the whole of South East Asia and would recommend it whole heartily. Well be back!