My last time in Thailand was twenty years ago when I made a trip to Phuket in order to take a dive boat up the coast to dive the Andaman Sea. The diving was truly inspired, and it was an epic voyage that led to side trips to Phi Phi Island and a visit to the North and the Golden Triangle.
I return now to Bangkok which was completely overlooked on my previous visit. There are sights to see to be sure, but I have a dental repair and a few errands to handle while I am here as well. I wised up after my trip to Hong Kong and booked myself an amazing hotel for $50/night in the Old City that just opened two weeks ago.
I’m mere steps away from palaces and the insane and frenetic Khao San Road which is teaming with backpackers from all over the world. Thankfully, I’m not forced to listen to their snoring at this juncture. There you can find bars offering nitrous oxide, fantastic street food, deep-fried insects, cheap t-shirts, cheesy souvenirs, and of course the occasional prostitute.
Most of the bars are blaring out the monotonous thumping of EDM which is only tolerable if you’re drunk, doing nitrous oxide or under the influence of Ecstacy, but thankfully I found a nice third-floor balcony bar with quality, live Rock and Roll band. People are easy to meet here since they are all well lubricated with alcohol and out for a good time. The two Russian couples I met were warmer and friendlier than would have been the case back in mother Russia.
Most of my serious tourism will begin in earnest when I get to Chiang Mai where it isn’t quite as hot and sticky. There will still be loads of compelling content here in Bangkok.
VILLA DE KHAOSAN – If you are lucky Sudarat is the first person you will see upon checking into this fully renovated luxury hotel just one block from Khaosan Road. Sudarat is the assistant manager, and she gives an excellent first impression of this lovely hotel. Here you are close to the action without being in the middle of all of the craziness that is found nearby on Khaosan Road. After a day of frenetic touring or shopping in Bangkok, it is so nice to return to this luxurious island of serenity. At $50-$60 per night, it is a great value as well.
View Of The Royal Palace From The Hotel Rooftop
VILLA DE KHAOSAN – Being so new the hotel needs to work out a few operational kinks, but nonetheless it’s a super-comfortable, well-appointed place with a luxury, rooftop pool. With any luck, Sudarat will helpl work out the kinks, and I look forward to staying here next year.
CRAZY STREET – After dark, Khaosan Road fills up with street food vendors and all manner of other options. It really turns into an eardrum-busting, clusterf##k of a situation after nine o’clock. After the backpacker bros are really drunk the ladyboys come out in force since their inebriation can make it difficult for them to discern the sex of the beautiful creatures coming their way. A block away there is another street that isn’t as insane with good restaurants, better music, and air-conditioned spas. So, for those of you who are over thirty, you might find that area to be preferable.
ENTOMOLOGICAL BUFFET – Here we have an array of deep fried insects including tarantulas, scorpions, crickets, grubs, and mealworms. I’ve already eaten deep-fried crickets in Phuket so I didn’t feel the need to sample the goods.
ROOF BAR – On the third floor of this building you can take refuge from the insanity of Khaosan road and immerse yourself in some quality Rock & Roll. As I was passing by, I heard some Oasis coming out of the window and made a beeline for the place. People can actually enjoy the music without the need of a liquor bucket.
The view from above shows things just before the madness begins to set in.
A balloon vendor is seen selling the very same unicorn balloon that my granddaughter had at her birthday, although I would say that the atmosphere of the party was a little different.
Another of many balloon vendors offers nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to the passersby.
MY FAVORITE SKEWERS – This man sells the best skewers on Khaosan Road bar none. He offers succulent chicken, sweet pork, tasty beef, and two choices of amazing sausage, hot and regular. Three dollars will get you a protein blast of five juicy sticks. Being on a low carb diet, this was my go-to guy for the duration of my stay. Aside from the food quality, he was a super nice guy.
Of course, this is not unusual in Bangkok. I found it amazing how nice the people were in this bustling big city. Usually, in a large metropolis people tend to be stressed and standoffish, but Bankok like Hong Kong before has made me reassess my relationship with big cities. I would not want to live in one, but a couple of weeks are no problem now.
Boys or Girls? Flip a coin on this one. Any lady over 5’7″ is suspect because Thai women are fairly short as a rule.
A FAVORITE SELFIE SPOT – I would be damned before I would be photographed with that symbol of poor nutrition. Clowns are absolutely one of the more creepy concepts on this planet. What American can look at a clown and not think of the pedophile, serial killer John Wayne Gacy? He murdered 33 young boys and buried most of them under the crawl space under his home. Can you imagine any sane parent taking one look at this guy and hiring him for their kid’s party?
Pogo the Clown – aka John Wayne Gacy
Speaking of crappy fast food restaurant mascots, Subway makes probably one of the lousiest subs around. They spread the condiments on the pre-wrapped meat instead of on the bread.
Jared Fogle, their nebbish of a pasty-faced spokesperson who lost weight eating nothing but their rubbish sandwiches, dated underaged girls and was found with a motherload of child porn on his home computer.
Here Jared displays his old pants and wonders how many underage girls he could stuff inside while wearing them. Now he wears an orange jumpsuit and has a whole new footlong sandwich to contend with. So my advice is to avoid fast food if at all possible, and if you eat McDonald’s in Thailand with all of the amazing street food, you are pretty much irredeemable in my book, anyway.
What was the name of that company that just got done lecturing the world about the evils of “Toxic Masculinity,” and “Objectifying Women?” Here’s one last company that shit the bed big time. They managed to offend the lion’s share of their customers and tarred all of mankind with the epithet “Toxic.”
BANGKOK: ANOTHER SHOPPERS PARADISE
TERMINAL 21 – Airport-inspired mall featuring shops on 9 internationally themed floors, two large food courts & a cinema. Aside from luxury malls, Bangkok also has large indoor markets and outdoor night markets with a plethora of goods.
People go from floor to floor and country to country.
UNITED KINGDOM LEVEL
BOARDING GATES TO SAN FRANCISCO AND PARIS
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
SOI COWBOY RED-LIGHT DISTRICT
SOI COWBOY – Just a block away from Terminal 21 Mall is the famous Soi Cowboy Red Light District, named after a cowboy hat wearing African American who opened the first bar in the early 1970s. With some forty mostly Go-Go bars, it caters mostly to foreigners and expats.
ONE LONE GO-GO DANCER
COUNTRY ROAD – This was not a Go-Go bar, but the big surprise was the fact that they played a very good version of “Whiter Shade of Pale,” by Procul Harem. How does that happen in a bar called Country Road? One thing that sets Bangkok apart from other Asian countries in the region is the quality of the music. It’s is almost all palatable, and most of it is downright good. Remember, this is coming from an ear that was untainted by alcohol.
One of the prettier bar girls in the district or is she? She is most definitely pretty, but she’s not a girl. In fact, Thailand has a considerable transgender population and a large number of freelance prostitutes fall into this category. One of the reasons for this is that because Thailand is predominantly Buddhist there is less condemnation towards them that would be found in Christian countries or places that practice the more judgemental Abrahamic religions. Ladyboys don’t get threatened with violence or beaten up for who they are here in Thailand.
So if you’re out for a little carnal entertainment, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Wink, wink. Know what I mean?
ERAWAN NATIONAL PARK
ERAWAN NATIONAL PARK – Home to numerous waterfalls and swimming opportunities.
GOTTA LOVE IT – The Thai people give a shit about their country! In Vietnam, there is trash and plastic everywhere even in the countryside.
Not a lick of trash to be seen, anywhere.
A THAI GIRL HAS A REFRESHING PHOTO-OP
Back in 2015 when I began my journey I was visiting some waterfalls in Laos very much like these. There were a couple of Brazilian girls with butt-floss bikinis taking photos of each other. I got seriously distracted, slipped and fell in the mud. I bashed my camera on the rocks and my pants were a mess, but the worst part was the people coming to help me up like I was some sort of invalid.
This shot was vastly improved when three fat German guys swam out of the frame.
The walk was greatly enhanced by the soothing sounds of falling water.
This photo reminds me of the successful rescue of the 12 boys in the Wild Boars soccer team. In all likelihood, I will visit the cave the young men survived when I visit Chiang Mai in a week from now.
COOL JUNGLE BRIDGE
You can’t beat trekking with the soothing sounds of running water.
BUDDHIST OFFERINGS OF CLOTHING AND SHOES
NEXT TIME I BRING A BATHING SUIT
…AND MAYBE A FISHING ROD
NATURES LINE DRAWING
I decided to turn around here since the terrain was becoming a little annoying, and I was starting to get hungry. Since I have been on a low-carb diet my metabolism has been in overdrive, and I run the risk of becoming hangry in a big way.
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD
ASCENDING FRENCH PEOPLE
As much fun as I was having in Bangkok, it is awfully nice to get out into the countryside.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
BOAR-ZILLA – This boar is about six feet long and 700-900 pounds. He had a very nice disposition and much more personality than Arnold the pig on “Green Acres.” I think his tusks have been removed to prevent him from injuring the tourists. He was in the parking lot earlier rooting around for snacks, but then he disappeared. Fortunately, I found him hiding behind some adjacent buildings. He was truly one of the high points of the day.
He took a drink, rooted around in the mud, and plopped himself down to cool off.
A PORCINE LEVIATHAN BASKS IN HIS MUDDY GLORY
THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI – This is the same structure immortalized in the movie of the same name starring Alec Guinness.
IN MEMORY OF THE APPROXIMATELY SEVEN HUNDRED SERVICEMEN OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WHO AS PRISONERS OF WAR OF THE JAPANESE DURING WORLD WAR II, WERE MOVED TO THAILAND AND BURMA. INTERNED IN PRISON CAMPS AND FORCED TO WORK ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE THAILAND – BURMA RAILWAY PROJECT.
IN SPECIAL MEMORY OF THE THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SIX OF THESE WHO PERISHED FROM DISEASE, MALNUTRITION, OVERWORK AND PHYSICAL ABUSE.
IMAGINE THE SUFFERING THAT WENT INTO THE CONSTRUCTION OF THIS BRIDGE
FORCE TO AID AN ENEMY THAT ABUSED AND MISTREATED THEM AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY
I STEP IN TO BREAK THE SOMBER MOOD
WE WERE FORTUNATE TO SEE THE BRIDGE IN ACTION
BEAUTIFUL STATUE ON THE OPPOSITE BANK
WWII ERA TRAIN
JAZZ HAPPENS – While the obnoxious, monotonous, hammering beats of EDM and crappy dance music bludgeon the party animals over on Khaosan Road, just ten minutes away top-quality jazz can be found with no cover charge.
This man is a professor at a music college and those are some of his talented students.
THREE YEAR WAIT – After walking on tired and aching feet for three years without availing myself of the benefit of a good foot massage, I finally capitulated and stopped at this well-equipped, air-conditioned operation.
And what a massage it was, and never mind it was only $5.00 for a half hour, but the lady had strong hand and worked out the kinks of 36 months and god knows how many miles.
THE LAST THING I SAW BEFORE MELTING AWAY INTO OBLIVION
THANTAKT DENTAL CENTER – I get myself a dental cleaning in yet another country, and of course another veneer repair. I was surprised that the prices were higher than in Poland.
LOOKS LIKE SOME SERIOUS PROTEST STREET ART
THIS STUFF HAS OPPRESSION WRITTEN ALL OVER IT
ROYAL PALACE DAY
THE ROYAL PALACE AWAITS
GILDED MIRRORED TILES COMPRISE THE SURFACE OF THIS IMPOSING EDIFICE
HALL OF IMAGES
BUDDHIST TEMPLE – NO PHOTOS ALLOWED INSIDE
THE PERPETUAL RENOVATIONS
THE NEW, GILDED, MIRROR MOSAICS SHINE FORTH EVEN ON A CLOUDY DAY
ONLY ONE HOUR AFTER OPENING, THE MONGOL HORDES DESCEND UPON THE ROYAL PALACE
I arrived at opening time to get my photos and beat a hasty retreat before the crowds overwhelmed the Old City. I managed to score some delicious Chiang Mai strawberries on the way out of the palace grounds.
TOKYU – Department Store adjacent to the BKM shops.
TIP SHOP – Avoid the substandard Chinese cutlery here, but the laser pointers are incredible with a built-in thousand points of light which can also do a single beam as well. The flashlight looked good as well.
HEY, I KNOW YOU! – I saw xxx on a YouTube about bargaining in Thailand. The YouTuber was a real wanker and made him feel very uncomfortable so I made sure to patronize his business. He gave me good deals and had very good products. The knock-off Apple wireless earbuds, seen in the foreground, make fantastic gifts and won’t make a huge dent in your budget. They function well and the sound is super. Things have been slow this year so seek him out. He will treat you with respect and appreciate your business.
MY WATCH – This Burmese fellow looks just like a good childhood friend. I bought a number of replica watches from him since he had access to the high-quality stuff. They had Japanese movements instead of the crummy Chinese movements found in their watches. It’s very hard to tell the difference. Just don’t try to go diving with the replica Rolex Sub. You might get away with swimming, but why bother? I can snorkel with my Apple watch, and I use a wrist dive computer when I am scuba diving.
Again, he worked with me on the prices, treated me with respect and made it a pleasurable experience from start to finish which is what good sales is all about. He’s a great salesman because he didn’t sell me anything. He helped me to buy what I wanted. That’s how I played it in sales for forty years, and how I like to be treated on the other side of the counter. After these positive experiences, I definitely want to go to Burma.
Geriatric Ex-Pat Punks
ART STREWN EVERYWHERE
GAYSORN VILLAGE LUXURY MALL
JUST ANOTHER IN A LITANY OF GORGEOUS ASIAN MALLS
ALEXANDER LAMONT – Design store with some very nice accessories. The wall hanging/divider is a piece that would not be out of place in a modern art museum. It is a grouping of differently hued squares made of goatskin. Outstanding!
BURGER & LOBSTER – This London-based, chain restaurant drew me to the mall in the first place. They do a completely authentic New England lobster roll, which I had sampled in the UK in the town of Bath with my friend Faith. It turns out that they closed the Bath location, and I really had a hankering for one of their rolls after hearing the news. So I sat down and opened the page to the object of my affection and immediately lost my appetite.
They wanted $47.00 for a lobster roll that I could get for $26.00 in the UK. In a town where cheap eats are legendary, and where you get a supersized order of salmon sashimi for six bucks, it was a shock to the system. I can only assume that the insane price is due to the long distance transportation of Maine lobsters to Southeast Asia.
centralwOrld – Another mall close by
FOOD FESTIVAL – I FOUND THIS LITTLE GEM ALONG THE WAY – HAPPENS ONCE A YEAR
WHAT A VARIETY OF QUALITY FOOD
IT EVEN FEATURED A POPULAR THAI BAND
THAI HEART THROB
THE GIRLS ARE GROOVIN’ TO THE SOUNDS AS THEY TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS
THAI FOOD TENT
I ORDERED UP SOME TENDERLOIN FOR MYSELF FOR $3.00
ADJACENT TO THE EVENT WAS A BUDDHIST SHRINE TO GET YOUR PRAYER ON
BIG C SUPERCENTER
GOING SHOPPING BY WAY OF THE RIVER
CHILLING ON A LONGBOAT WEARING MY CHERISHED SILVER MANTA
TEMPLE OF THE RECLINING BUDDHA – I definitely have to check this one out on my next visit.
IKONSIAM – This mall was built by the Royal family, and is a shopping experience fit for a monarch. Bursting with high-end, luxury retail, it also houses the first Apple Store in Thailand. There are plans to extend the Skytrain to link up with the facility in the near future.
The beautiful glass facade is a very complex, state of the art feature.
THE GLASS TAKES FULL ADVANTAGE OF THE RIVER VIEWS
LEFTOVER NEW YEARS DECORATION
GIANT SALMON SASHIMI – Six Dollars!
SOOK SIAM – Just imagine a souk in Morocco, only clean, luxurious, and bereft of scum and villainy.
FIRST AND ONLY APPLE STORE IN THAILAND
APPLE’S ENORMOUS TERRACE WITH A RIVER AND CITY VIEW
ONE OF APPLE’S MOST BEAUTIFUL AND WELL RUN STORES
I stopped by Prada to try and replace a tiny zip bag where I keep my cash, cards, meds, and a battery. They wanted $450 for the blasted thing. I let them know they could keep it along with their nauseating, dishwater green decor. I went to my favorite indoor market later and picked up a nice neoprene item for $6.00, and saved $444.00.
STUNNING ELEMENTS THROUGHOUT
SKYTRAIN BACK TO THE CENTER OF BANGCOCK
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
MOCA – This is the epicenter of contemporary art in Bangkok, and one of the finest, world-class museums that I have encountered in four years of travel. Sadly, few people make it to this amazing attraction because it is halfway between the airport and downtown Bangkok. I arrived here in the middle of the day to find an all but empty museum.
MOCA – The art housed here is 95% Thai with a few international pieces on the top floors. Frankly, I recommend seeing only the Thai works just to remain a purist and not distract from the museum’s focus. The music is soft and appropriate to the art and the setting and the architecture and interior design will leave you feeling enlightened and serene. That is a special gift after dealing with the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Many of the works have representations of the Buddha, and you will feel the good vibrations long after you leave the property.
EVERY SPACE IS WELL THOUGHT OUT AND EXPERTLY EXECUTED
A BEAUTIFUL HOMAGE TO THE SURREALIST MASTER
Thongchai SRISUKPRASERT – Buddha’s Enlightenment – 2011
Sompop BUDTARAD – SIrima, The Beauty
Chalermchai KOSITPIPAT – The Praise of Lord Buddha – 1992
Panya VIJINTHANASARN – DIFFERENT WAY – 1980
Chatchawan WANNAPHO – Rice in a Rice Field with a Surface Location – 2013
Preecha PUN-KLUM – Glamorous Night in Bangkok – 2009
Ekachai LUADSOONGNERN – Father’s Path – 2016
Watchara KLAKAKHAEY – Nang pim pi la lai – 2001
Prateep KHOTCHABUA – Way To Heaven – 2011
Prateep KHOTCHABUA – Violin – 2006
Prateep KHOTCHABUA – Journey to the Next World V – 2007
Prateep KHOTCHABUA – Churning of the Milk Ocean – 2011
The story happened when Indra wanted to be immortal. The angels and demons, who had been fighting for a long time, came together to accompany the ceremony of the churning of the milk ocean in order to receive the nectar of immortality. The angels with glowing bodies are on the right side, while the demons with animal heads and muscled bodies are on the left. The long python volunteered to be a rope for both sides to be pulled during the ceremony. The mythical tug-of-war had continued for thousands of years. The rubbing of the python’s body caused him to spew venom, burning the demons. In fact, this was Indra’s trick. Indra also magically called to the aquatic animals to join in the sacred ceremony, right before the nectar emerged.
Prateep KHOTCHABUA – DREAM LAND 2 – 2009
Sompong ADULYASARAPHAN – The Dream of Scarecrow – 1996
Watchara KLAKHAKHAI – Legend of SIda -2005
Sompop BUDTARAD – Chao Praya River 2 – 2009
Vichai SITHIRAT – Misery, Lust, Hope,…Wisdom – 2011
Chumpon UTAYOPHAT – Three Sheath – 2003
Sompop BUDTARAD – Raksot Devi – 2017
UNTITLED – 1994
Suriya NAMWONG – Transformation Mind 4 – 2017
DETAIL – A PAIR OF EAGLE RAYS
DETAIL – ARTIST SELF-PORTRAIT