We went from the jungles of Laos and northern Thailand to the big city experience of Bangkok. From one lane dirt tracks to eight or ten lanes of traffic with hundreds, if not thousands, of scooters. We also went from small guest houses where we were often bunking in the same room to a two-bedroom apartment—with air conditioning—on the 25th floor of an apartment building. Yes, it was quite a shock.
However, that didn’t stop us from jumping straight into city life. Our exploration of Bangkok included riding on the water buses, a fun/fast/and exhilarating way of getting around via the canals and avoiding the oppressive traffic on Bangkok’s roads. As well as learning how to cross the street – not an easy feat in Bangkok – figuring out the subway and daring each other to try the scooter taxies. (No, none of us rode a scooter taxi, but we did spend a lot of time with our jaws open watching other people hop on, often sideways, texting on their phones or holding their purchases while zooming off without a moment’s hesitation.)
We were in town for Loh Krathang festival during which nearly everyone launches little boats with candles onto the bays, rivers, and even swimming pools of the city. The tradition is that if the candle is still lit as your boat sails out of sight than your wish will be granted. We decided to join the mass of humanity headed down towards the Chao Phraya River following the adage “Sī fuerīs Rōmae, Rōmānō vīvitō mōre…(When in Rome, live as the Romans do.)”
As you can see in the photos, this meant joining a sea of humanity on the Bangkok subway. Although not as tightly packed as a Tokyo subway at rush hour, we were so tightly packed if you forgot to get your arms above your head, before the doors closed you were pretty much stuck that way until the next stop.
We spent the cooler mornings and evenings exploring, and the heat of the day in the apartment doing algebraic equations!
* There is a song entitled “One night in Bangkok” from the musical Chess from the mid 1980s with the line, “one night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble” which we sung throughout our time in Bangkok with some changes to the lyrics.