I flew through Bangkok coming and going to Nepal. On the inbound leg, I spent a night at an airport motel before catching a connecting flight to Kathmandu. On the outbound leg, I spent two days in Bangkok and visited sights in the downtown area.
It's been about 25 years since my last visit which was sometime in the late 1980's. I could not believe the transformation of the city. Although Thailand may not be ranked among the four "Asian Tiger" economies - Malaysia, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, it certainly has made tremendous progress. My memory of Bangkok then was similar to my impression of Kathmandu today, a crazy, chaotic and intense city.
Today, modern Bangkok reminds me of Singapore, Hong Kong, or some cities in Japan.
A skyline full of new high-rise buildings, incredible new infrastructure represented by a new freeway connecting the airport and downtown, a sky-train system which also connects downtown to the airport as well as a system serving the downtown, and an international airport that must be considered one of the nicest and most modern in the world. Architecturally, it's a gem. New gleaming multi-story shopping centers are found along the major streets.
I was blown away by the change. Twenty-five years ago, attempting to cross a street was nightmarish with motorbikes and vehicles swarming chaotically all around. Today, the traffic is tame and orderly, no different than walking the streets of any American city.
Yet even with all the changes, much of the character and charm of old Bangkok's street culture still survives. The sidewalk vendors and outdoor eating halls are wedged in between the high-rise buildings at street level. Strolling the streets of Bangkok was fun and captivating.
After spending three intense weeks in Nepal, it was a refreshing change to spend some quiet R'n'R time in Bangkok, staying in a modern hotel, and eating some great Thai food.
Here are some pics of my visit to Bangkok.
Flying Biz Class, I had access to the Royal Silk Lounge. I loaded up on dim sum, sandwiches and lattes before catching my next flight.
The following pics are views of the exterior of airport. I was quite taken by the Helmut Jahn design.