Bangkok

Volume 1, Issue 1; 1998-04

Venice of the East.

I had the opportunity to travel to Bangkok, Thailand in April 1998 to work on a draft of the XSL specification. It was a tremendously enjoyable experience. We completed the work we set out to do, so I can say that it was a successful trip ;-), the food was outstanding, and the sights were magnificent.

Getting Around

Traffic in Bangkok is a little bit congested in exactly the same way that interstellar space is a little bit empty. During rush hour, it can take 45 minutes or more to go a few blocks, and I've been told that there are intersections that are so bad it is literally faster to get out of one cab, walk past the offending intersection, and get into another cab.

One solution to this problem is to take a motorcycle taxi instead of a car. Motorcycle taxis are cheap and fast. The key to their speed is the fact that they will negotiate rapidly between cars if there is sufficient clearance. Sufficient clearance might be loosely defined as an inch or so on each side of your knees. I was first introduced to motorcycle taxis in the wee hours of the morning. At night, after a few drinks, the experience was a little disorienting. During rush hour and stone cold sober, the experience was, uhm, exhilarating. Especially when the bike was negotiating between cars speeding in opposite directions.

A view from the back of a motorcycle taxi
A view from the back of a motorcycle taxi

Markets

The markets that I saw in Bangkok were simply incredible. An almost indescribable jumble of fish, produce, meats, baked goods, foodstuffs I could hardly recognize and some that I absolutely couldn't, erzats American goods, paper products, china, glasswear, silks, and a hundred-thousand other things.

Fresh produce at the weekend market in Chatuchak Park
Fresh produce at the weekend market in Chatuchak Park
On Soi 16 in Chinatown
On Soi 16 in Chinatown

Temples

There are literally tens of thousands of temples in Bangkok. Buddhist temple architecture in Bangkok is glorious. Brightly colored tile walls, tall jeweled and golden spires, and fantastic statuary is just the beginning.

A small fraction of Wat Arun
A small fraction of Wat Arun
Ayutthaya outside Bangkok
Ayutthaya outside Bangkok
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace

Inside

The temples are gorgeous inside, too.

Incense and candles offered in a temple in Ayutthaya
Incense and candles offered in a temple in Ayutthaya
Gold leaf on a small buddha inside Wat Pho
Gold leaf on a small buddha inside Wat Pho
The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

Statuary

I really love some of the statuary.

A cat
A cat
By the river near the Marble Temple
By the river near the Marble Temple

In the course of updating the photo links in April 2012, I discovered that this photo never made it into the essay. I don't know why.

Stone head in Ayutthaya outside Bangkok
Stone head in Ayutthaya outside Bangkok

I Want my MTV!

200 channels?

A canal house
A canal house