Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Visiting Thailand #1

One of the best things about Asia, is how relatively inexpensive it can be to travel between countries. Aside from Visa issues, Asia is probably one of the best places to travel in the world. The transit, accommodations, and food cost very little and each country has a personality of its own to explore.

Veronica has been participating in an Eco-City Contest in a different province, so I recently found myself with a free week. With nothing else to do, I decided to book a flight to Thailand. I'd heard good things and luckily an old friend lives in Bangkok, so I didn't even have to worry about finding lodgings! Thanks Caitlin!

bangkok pool hallsGetting Hustled
If you haven't been, Thailand is just as crazy as you've heard. I arrived a little after midnight and we kept the next relatively low key. We only hit up a few bars and played a little bit of pool. I quickly learned that pool is the national sport of Thailand and it was a GOOD thing that gambling is illegal. This is my pool partner Pat. She runs a Mexican restaurant and was clearly the ringer on our team.

thai fishThai Food in Bangkok
Compared to Beijing, Bangkok is a tourist paradise. English is spoken much more commonly and most prices are even cheaper! As a fan of Thai food, I couldn't wait to try it out in its native environment. I wasn't disappointed. On the street, or in restaurants, I was pleasantly surprised. This fish was my first breakfast. I wanted to jump right in.

bangkok water taxiGetting Around Bangkok
Though not as inexpensive as Beijing, Bangkok transportation was straightforward and easy. The Bangkok Transit System consists of two elevated train lines and one subway line. All rely on RFID tickets or tokens. Lines let off at convenient locations, such as the central pier. Much cooler than the BTS is the water taxis. For less than the BTS Sky Train, you can grab a boat down the river to any of a few dozen stops. This was a great way to get around the city. Most of the major tourist attractions were along the water taxi route. I spent my first day on and off the water taxi, visiting Wats and palaces and meeting TONS of Israelis touring after their Army time.

buddha in tree ayuthayaA Lotta Buddha
Out of the three Asian nations I've visited all three claim close ties and devotion to the Buddha and Buddhism. All three have major temples and shrines, each with a slightly different representation of Buddha. Thailand however, where Buddhism enjoys a majority position among its religions, has some of the most amazing. Pretty much every Wat was overflowing with Buddhist imagery, some of which is world famous. To the right you can see me in front of the Buddha in the Tree of Ayuthaya. this is one of the most photographed images of Buddha in the world. I was going for "tourist-douchey". Did I capture the look?

More to come.