Bangkok

After an overnight in Singapore, I headed towards Thailand, to catch up with my friend and her friends, who were already there and they gave me the best welcome ever! Right after my arrival, they took me to this Thai massage place, where we allowed the women (decent, around 35-40 y.o.) to measure our contortion scale. All together, I enjoyed the test for merely 2h, but I have to tell, that the effects were besides one two little bruises, sore muscles the next day. Besides the full body massage, we got also a foot massage that was yet another experience.

I came out from this place, well worked up about the interactions to come. I was honestly surprised how people can still communicate, even if they don’t speak the same language. This was the case during our kinesthetic session, when the women talked to us (of course not for long) in Thai and we would react based on common sense. And later I discovered that throughout whole Asia, people’s English is quite poor with some exceptions, but this is not a barrier in conveying a message.

tuktukOverall Bangkok for me is pretty much Buddhist Temples (Wat), good food (on Khao San Road) and tuk-tuk drive(r)s plus the candy pink taxis. The latter is particularly enjoyable, once one realizes that these little vehicles, like all the other ones, are playing by the same rules, thus no matter how crazy the traffic would be, since they are all doing the crazy driving, they are all aware of each other.

 

yakshaThe Grand Palace was the first temple. Amazing, building complex that dates from the 18th century and was under continuous expansion for over 200 years. Nowadays, no royalty lives in it, nor government agencies populate it, but it is still used for ceremonies throughout the year. The most important component of this complex is the Temple of Emerald Buddha, which is in fact a chapel. It is considered to be the most sacred temple in Thailand and this comes from the rich history of the statue and Nagasena‘s prophesy that the statue would bring prosperity to the holder state.

Then a slightly tourist trap came, when we negotiated with a tuk-tuk driver to take us for 40THB around. The only nice thing was the Wat Saket, the golden mountain. What I  particularly dislike about this stay is that even if people are still in my general Asian spirit, they did try to trick us and take us as fools, when the tuk-tuk driver made a stop at one of his associates most probably. It is natural and normal of course, but not sure I’d stop by again, exactly because of such attitude.

Reclining Buddha Wat PhoHad a nice stop at one of the restaurant-cafe places near Wat Pho and then I visited the temple of the giant reclining golden Buddha. The picture is pretty amazing I must say. The statue’s soles depict 108 auspicious symbols of Buddha and there are 108 bronze bowls where people throw coins, representing the 108 characters of Buddha.

 

Our last stop and in my opinion the most worthy and beautiful one, was Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn. Besides the giant steps (like up to my knees) and the steep climbs, the view from the temple was amazing, the typical view over the river, the boats and the temples close to the shores, with the modern image of Bangkok in the background.

Wat Arun at sunsetMore pics here.

 

Asia

First and last thing on my mind: Fooood …mmmm I miss it!

A totally different world, different feeling, that does not compare to my experience with the various cultures from the far far East, through the individuals that I have met so far.

The general impression is that people from the countries of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia do still show some of the basic, genuine kindness and hospitality that seems to be buried sometimes too deep, in the Western culture.

Of course we are not talking about remote Buddhist or Hindu temples, these cultures have also been touched by globalization, and they display the usual tourist trapping attitude in the highly visited spots, but nevertheless my general impression was that of people who would cross the line by lurking around wealthier tourists and mugging them much less often than in Europe. Self understood, this involves tourists as well minding their belongings and behavior.

Trip to Asia, first part. Butterflies in the stomach, all excited about the trip, already on Liszt Ferenc Airport. Settling the last details before the flight, which include some dinner and off I am! With only a 2h delay on CDG, the trip continues with the tough part — some more 12-14h of flight to Changi Airport. Well, I have to say, it is a looooong trip! It better be worth it!

Done, made up my mind. It is worth every moment of it; starting from the people I get to talk to on the plain, to the locals from Asia that I meet on the journey. It is like a deep breath of fresh mountain air! Inhaling the new, crispy experiences from another end of the World! Well, I must say, the first lungful of air was more like water than air. In Singapore, at the time I arrived, humidity was so high, that I felt I was breathing water… .

P.S. Another proof of how beneficial this trip was, is my freinds’ affirmation when we first met after vacation: Tu as une bonne mine!  and I effectively realised this myself, when I heard it like the 3rd time in 2 days!