I’m writing from a sun-kissed tropical beach from a country that is truly a study in contrast. Many from our town have not only visited but actually live out here – welcome to Thailand.
It’s hard to believe Lynn and me have been here over a week now. Arriving last Monday in Bangkok we were greeted by my sister’s partner and whisked along the City Expressway to their company apartment down on the bank of the Chao Phraya river.
It’s a short (free) boat ride from the private pier to the elevated Skytrain station followed by a spectacular journey above the city to the downtown district. Amazingly the new skyscrapers tower over old temples and shanty towns. Turn a bend and there is an exclusive golf and race course smack inthe middle of the high rise.
The protests in Bangkok have been widely publicised in our country but I wasn’t prepared for what greeted us on the streets. Most of the main roads have been locked down by the protest group but anarchy is not reigning supreme on all streets. A sense of organised carnival prevails as masked and in some cases armed stewards allow access to the closed off roads and perhaps the biggest street market in Asia.
You can buy anything to wear, listen to or eat here side by side with exclusive shopping malls selling goods that the street people can only dream about.
You don’t have to go far though to pick up some real bargains. We shopped in a huge store called MBK, seven floors of fake everything you ever wanted. On the top floor is the food hall where you can experience food from all over the world – literally.
To gain access to MBK we crossed what should be a very busy city crossroads. It was deserted of cars and scooters but filled with protestors, all sat under shelter, cross legged and watching riots breaking out across the city on a huge screen. Despite all of that going on we felt safe. The Thai people are not generally aggressive. I just hope this situation for them clears up soon. I’m at the coast now but heading up to the River Kwai today. Read how we got on next week.