A Memorable Incident In The City Of Bangkok - Thailand
Shopping In Bangkok - Thailand
Visitors to Thailand would rarely miss the sign that greets everyone who lands at Bangkok airport with the phrase "Welcome To The City Of Angels!"
Thai hospitality indeed plays a major role in their tourism programs, by enabling continuity in its success.
Quite apart from that, Bangkok is a great place to visit, with shopping being the prime target of nearly ninety per cent of those who visit Thailand.
Even Singaporeans and Malaysians visit Bangkok for this purpose. Japanese, Koreans, and Taiwanese too pick Bangkok as their main shopping destination.
Shopping in Thailand is indeed rewarding. Considering the large variety of good quality clothes, shoes, leather goods, curios, and many other items that are reasonably priced.
Most street vendors are friendly and really "negotiable." Bargaining is not considered offensive and sometimes even not necessary as the prices quoted when you first show signs of interest keep dropping as your level of interest appears to decline.
The Capital Of Thailand
Shopping was one of the reasons for my very first visit to the city of Bangkok.
Subsequently shopping had been the prime motive in all my visits that followed.
My flight on Thai Airways International landed at Don Muang International Airport late in the evening and the very next morning I got about my task of exploring the city.
I had a list of places to visit, compiled after hearing many an adventure story related by friends who were frequent visitors.
On the very first day, using the services of three-wheeler taxis, also known as tuk-tuks, I made quick visits to every shopping district on my list.
My idea was to familiarise myself with the routes so that the second time I needed to access these areas, I could get across without any hassle.
The Planning - Bangkok
I did intend to spend half a day at each of these shopping areas and explore them thoroughly. That is exactly what I did in the days that followed.
Exploring is great fun when you have planned an itinerary, and when you know exactly how to get across to your next destination, and when you are familiar with the transport system of the city, and also when you have a map of the city for reference ... and most importantly, when you are all by yourself!
When you are alone ... you are your own master! There is nothing to beat that feeling of independence!
The Explored Areas - Bangkok Restaurants Included!
Each shopping area was well combed on foot. Every nook and cranny was covered. The only need for any form of transportation was when moving from one shopping area to another.
Only for this purpose I used the services of three wheeler taxis, or tuk-tuks.
Pratunam was the first area I explored. This was the most interesting part. Half a day was spent in Pratunam. Then it was back to the hotel with my shopping things.
I used to shop until I felt I could carry no more. Then again it was back to base.
Then comes a long shower, fresh clean clothes, and then set out seeking a place to eat. Eating posed no problem.
Food was available in abundance and variety in the dozens of restaurants that served not only Thai food. An appetite to challenge the culinary delights of the city's various way side restaurants comes in handy indeed.
After a delightful meal, I hail a tuk-tuk and head for Banglampoo. Banglampoo is popular for leather goods, and within walking distance is China Town.
The term walking distance is relative indeed! From Banglampoo to China Town it was on foot of course.
China Town is indeed a mysterious area. With all the ornamental stuff and lanterns hung with Chinese characters painted on them, associated mostly with Feng Shui, and having sampled the fragrances emitted by the various types of incense, it was time to get back to my hotel.
More From The City Of Bangkok
The End Of The Day - That Ever So Important Bangkok Map!
The next day an identical sequence followed. Breakfast, step out, hail a three wheeler and head for Bope Market. Explore and shop till lunch and then back to the hotel. Every session was devoted to one shopping area.
After dinner, I used to take a walk for about two hours just looking around, and not straying too far from my base. I used to go into all the by-lanes and felt a sense of delight when I found that one lane falls on to a highway I was already familiar with.
When I get back to the hotel, I used to sit in the lobby and scrutinise the map of Bangkok, identifying the places I have already been to and planning my next day.
This attracted the attention of the other guests too and helped to get into conversation with some. More often the conversation was about our experiences in Bangkok and about many other places to visit that I had previously not heard of.
The Purpose Of This Article
Very valuable exchange of information indeed. By this you become more aware of what is happening around you in this city, and realise the potential to explore more. Even the alteration of a scheduled plan becomes inevitable.
I eventually learnt the short cuts from some of the main highways to other highways and to other popular locations. What I wanted to do was to walk more and use the transport services less, as I had already become well versed in the geography of most of the more popular areas of the capital city.
The purpose of this article is to relate an incident which occurred on one of my later visits to Bangkok and one which I shall always remember.
Thai Food? Sure!
On this occasion I checked in to a guest house in an area called Suthisarn off Vibhavadi Rangsit road.
Although Suthisarn was not a district I was familiar with, I took a stern decision not to board any three wheeler or taxi at all, but instead to walk to every location I wanted to visit.
Once more I had a good map of the city, and like in previous instances, the Bangkok map would surely assist me a great deal.
All On Foot
It would take about an hour to get to each of the shopping areas. But never mind, I will set out on foot and I will also get back on foot.
This way I am certain that I would get more exposure of the city of Bangkok and would miss very little. However, I could simply not stick to my decesion as exaustion at the end of the day prompted me to board a tuk-tuk to get back to base.
There were also instances when I used to board a bus, any bus at all, and get to some point where I notice a familiar landmark and get off. From there onwards I used to either walk or board a three wheeler back to my base.
On occasions, when the bus entered an unfamiliar area, I just get off and board another bus in the opposite direction and wait for a familiar sight to get off at.
Especially when you don't have deadlines, or a fixed mission to accomplish, a thing like this is possible and this was real fun indeed!
On this particular day, after finishing shopping, I decided to walk back to my guest house. I had a cup of tea at a wayside tea kiosk and commenced walking with all my shopping things. Sometimes you just begin to sense the short cuts on such an expedition.
After covering quite a distance on foot, I sensed if I go down a particular lane, it would fall onto a main highway, which I was certain was the one in which the lane leading to the guest house I had checked in, was located.
I continued walking. Then the road curved a bit and another component of it lead straight ahead. I took the path that my instinct told me was right. All these were shopping areas too, with vegetable stalls, fruits, tea kiosks, fruit drink stalls, and an endless row of stalls.
My Instinct? ... My Foot!
I keep going, and my instinct keeps on directing me ... but then where to? Suddenly I realised that my instinct was not actually aware of my destination!
So I stopped to ask for directions. A young guy who was running a fruit stall was closing up for the day. I mentioned to him the name of the lane and the name of the guest house in which I was accommodated, and I asked him how I could get there.
I spoke just a little bit of Thai at that time, and he spoke just a wee bit of English. What a pair we made! He gave me directions in Thai as well as in "English." I understood both equally well! So I set off hoping my instinct would have been influenced by the dialog.
But it was not! So I took a few steps back and asked him again, this time using sign language to indicate to him how well I had understood his directions, and I expected him to confirm. But instead, he appeared vexed that I had not understood him at all!
Hotels In Bangkok
Catering to those on a shoestring budget, are a wide range of guest houses and budget hotels in all parts of the city.
For those who would settle for nothing less than accommodation on a super luxury level too, there is a wide selection to pick from.
These properties from downright budget class to super luxury level are evenly distributed within the city limits as well as in the outskirts of the city.
Accommodation has never been in short supply in the city of Bangkok and with constant tourism oriented development projects taking place, there never will be.
He at once called out to the girl who was helping him put away the stuff he was selling. She was probably his sister.
She nodded and reached into the pocket of her jeans and fished out a bunch of keys. She then threw it at him. He caught it with one hand.
A brand new Kawasaki trailer was parked on the side. He at once mounted it, started it, and signalled to me to get on the bike behind him.
As if it was part of the script, I at once got on and sat, balancing my shopping things in both hands, without giving it a thought.
He whizzed off straight ahead and turned into a by-lane and into all the nooks and crannys and finally brought me to my guest house.
I casually got off and simply said thank you. He just nodded and rode off. Then I headed straight for the reception, got my keys, went up to my room, threw my shopping things on my bed and just sat there.
For how long I sat, I do not recall. It all happened as if I was under a hypnotic spell, commencing from the time he motioned me to get on to his bike. Like a puppet I got on the bike, and we reached our destination, I got off in similar fashion.
Now I was totally embarrassed. Why? Because I had just said a casual thank you. I really did not know how to respond in a situation such as that. What would his impression of me be? How else could I have expressed my gratitude?
One thing I was certain was that this young Thai did not expect even a thank you. He was just serving another human being, although a total stranger.
He may not have learnt at home or at school that the duty of man is to serve man. But he knows it, and I guess he does not know that he knows.
I meant to write to the local newspapers of this incident as soon as I got back home, with copies to the Thai press as well.
But procrastination got the better of me. A few months back, I recall having mentioned this incident in the comments section of somebody's hub page.
Even now, when I recollect the incident, I feel grateful.
It was the young guy's attitude that holds me in awe even to this day, not the conveniance of a free lift.
A Good Turn
Have you ever helped a stranger, or has a stranger ever helped you?
Banks In Thailand
- Thai Military Bank Public Company Limited
TMB Bank Public Company Limited Formerly known as Thai Military Bank Public Company Limited. The Group's principal activities are the provision of commercial banking, off-shore banking, investment banking, private trust fund management and provident
- Thai Farmers' Bank - KASIKORNBANK
Thai Farmers Bank Limited is now known as Kasikornbank. With total assets of over 1,672,341 million Baht, the bank deals in consumer, commercial and all forms of corporate banking services.
© 2009 quicksand