Sunday, November 7, 2010


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.

Ahhhh! . . . checking in to the Bel Air Princess Hotel with a big comfy bed

The lux bathroom was heaven!

The view of the pool from my 12th floor room

New high-rises dot the skyline

Hog heaven! . . . a grand buffet breakfast at the hotel

A luv'ly dish . . . shrimp Pad Thai wrapped in egg . . . was awesome!

Modern high-rise condos

The Sky-Train makes getting around the downtown area easy

I took the Sky-Train to the Chao Phra River

Sidewalk vendors fill the streets. This is what I remember of old Bangkok.

One of the outdoor dining halls surrounded by small food vendors

Surrounding the food hall are small vendors offering cheap good eats

Colorful candy vendor

Sausages on a stick

Stairs to the Sky-Train station

One of many new multi-story shopping centers

Ronald says "sawadee ka!"

Inside McDonalds

Flower vendor at Buddhist shrine

A ceremony was taking place at an outdoor Buddhist Shrine.

Gassho (hands together) and an offering of flowers

Beautiful dancers and drummers were performing

The 2-cycle air polluting tuk tuks of old are now propane powered

Taking catwalk into Grand Central, a spanking new shopping center/office tower

Grand Central, a multi-story shopping center

Cool graphics id the restrooms

One of my favorite places in Bangkok, the Chao Phra River where there's plenty of boat action

Colorful long-tail boats still rip up and down the river

Some of the high-tone hotels have their own boat taxis

The riverfront is lined with high-end hotels

Chinatown and juxtapose of old and new

Chinatown, an electrician's nightmare

Fruit vendor with all kinds of strange colorful fruits

Gateway to Bangkok's new Suvamabhumi International Airport

An impressive 4-level main terminal designed by Helmut Jahn

My North Face bags in front of Thai warrior art piece in the main terminal concourse

More cool art

Shopping mall inside airport

Barrel-vault made of translucent membrane allows plenty of natural light into concourse

Many nice touches - fully reclining barco-loungers for tired passengers

More cool airport art. I liked the use of indigenous art. You know you're in Thailand.

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.

Quite good!

Inside the lounge

Catching the 10:15 to Nepal

The following pics are views of the exterior of airport. I was quite taken by the Helmut Jahn design.

Very nice!!

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