I've spent the past day and a half in Bangkok and though I've been here countless times before the city always has a surprise or two. The recent events in Thailand have created a bit of a"Farang free" zone. Hotels, restaurants and bars are noticeably quiet. Prices are low and the tedious bargaining for everything seems almost easy.
Thailand, like most Asian countries has experienced a dramatic drop in the value of its currency against the US $ so the greenback goes a long way.
My "Big Mac Meal" economic index:
122 Baht ($3.48) making fast food a rather expensive option for most Thais.
A three dish Thai meal can be had for 100 Baht in a setting far more restful and interesting.
It's very much a buyers market.
Interesting to have the upper hand in this respect as in the past, no matter how seasoned a traveller you may think you are, the Thais would inevitably take you to the cleaners (with a wide smile of course) whatever the transaction. I haven't visited any temples this time around as time was tight. I did wander a bit and then headed for the river to cruise the canals. Its a much overlooked part of the city and though on the tourist trail, it has a different feel to it and gives a different perspective to this chaotic city.
Two hours tooling around costs about 800 Baht ($22), but be prepared to negotiate. The opening salvo from the first guy I talked to was 2000 Baht.
As you can see the canals are like streets with comings and goings happening at water's edge as much as the street or open space on the other side of the buildings. Cruising along you get a unique insight into life in a Thai household. As usual the people take the gawking tourists in their stride and respond with waves and smiles.
I went to the fights last night and as ever it was brutal but compelling in a strange sort of way. If you've never seen Thai Boxing then you really must go. Its a blend of ritual, music, gambling, showbiz, blood and guts.
The night I went there were 10 fights with the main event being the 7th. Thais are small people and there wasn't a fighter over 130 lbs.
Don't let that fool you.
Even the 100 lb 16 year olds who contested the first 4 bouts could have kicked my ass.
Lest any of you think this appears less than brutal: Of the 8 fights I saw, 4 ended in a knock out.
That's it for today.
I'm off to Cambodia.Stay tuned.
Love to all