I was in Bangkok, Thailand from November 19-22, 2008 to attend the ARSR (Asian Reseach Seminar in Rhinology, held in Plaza Athenee Hotel. This is only my second trip to Bangkok after what seems to be 10 years, and the changes in the skyline and freeways of the city were really very admirable.
Nov. 19: On the first night, we watched a fantastic cultural program entitled "Siam Niramit." It was certainly more elaborate than any cultural show I have seen with its huge stage and set pieces, very elaborate stage design and special effects, glittering costumes and distinctive choreography. Huge in the sense that a live elephant walking onstage looked small. Elaborate in the sense that a river magically appears upstage, where people can swim and boats can be paddled on it. This show is really a must-see for tourists in Bangkok. Too bad photography is banned there, so I have no pictures of that special place.
We were brought to another kind of "cultural" show Bangkok is known for later that night (in a seedy nameless hole in the wall behind the AIG Center near Patpong) but that is a totally different story altogether.
Nov. 20: I joined a very disappointing City Tour that featured what seemed to be minor Buddhist temples (Hualamphong Temple and the White Marble Temple). Of course as is annoyingly customary with these tours, we were brought to a gem factory and to a leather factory.
Nov. 21: After lunch, we were brought to the center of the main Bangkok activity -- shopping. We were dropped off at Central World. From that mall, my hotel roommate Eric and I walked over to the Divisoria-like Pratunam Market on one side. And on the other side, we have the Shangri-la Mall like Siam Paragon. Everything was going on very well as scheduled until the clock ticked 6pm. By then, the walking traffic within the Central World Mall and the vehicular traffic around it were paralyzed.
It was revealed that this was caused by the arrival of the Royal Grandson in the mall to participate in a early Christmas activity. We were held for an hour before the cute 3 year old highness walked out of the mall with his mother. The owner of the mall was present and knelt in his presence. This was a unique special slice of Thai culture that we witnessed right there. Too bad I was again not allowed to take photographs of the young prince.
That night we were brought to the nearby Suan Lun Night Market to complete our pasalubong shopping. Too bad the nearby Lumpini Thai Boxing Arena was already closed by then, so we were disappointingly not able to watch any match.
With the situation at the Bangkok Airport now with the 880 Pinoys stranded there, we are lucky to have been able to come home before that crisis started.
Golden Dragon Restaurant
First restaurant we ate in. Very big and spacious! But food was not very good.
Guinness Record for Biggest Restaurant Complex in the World in 1992
Plaza Athenee Lobby
Beautiful expansive building, but totally alien in the Bangkok city-scape, isn't it?
White Marble Temple