Day 3, 12 July 2012 – Bangkok – shopping, but not as we know it

Its raining this morning – not the unrelenting downpour of our first night, but enough to need to take cover. So we decide to take a taxi to Siam Square, famous for shopping opportunities.

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I was expecting a mall similar to those in the uk, but this is really just like a huge version of the street markets, six floors full of stalls and shops packed closely together and selling a lot of the same things, some items quite lovely – beautiful colourful silk scarves, endless shelves of handbags of every colour, bright and sparkly shoes. I was tempted by a few items but don’t buy anything. Ella buys a pair of cheap shoes and that is it.

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We then cross the road via a pedestrian bridge to another mall which couldn’t be more different – very spacious and sophisticated – and expensive. We don’t stay long in here and emerge at street level to the normal array of street vendors and food sellers and a couple of covered markets.

We wander around until we get hungry and find a restaurant in a food court of one of the malls. We eat a very nice meal (noodles again for me), for very little money, and then we cross back over the bridge system towards the cultural centre where we view an exhibition of sculpture that I find very interesting.

The pedestrian bridge system is like spaghetti junction above a complicated road junction, and it is quite fascinating to just look down at all the traffic below. The traffic is as colourful as the markets, a lot of the taxis are bright pink, and bright yellow, the hundreds of tuktuks are all painted the colours of the rainbow, and there are motorbikes and scooters weaving in and out all over the place – totally manic.

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After the cultural centre we negotiate a price for a tuktuk to take us back to the hotel, but by now the traffic is really congested, and it takes an hour to get back. We would have loved to take the sky train, but there is no stop near where we need to go.

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Being in a tuktuk is a lot like being on the dodgems. The drivers weave in and out of the traffic, often going on the wrong side of the road and pulling out in front of other vehicles. It all feels a bit unstable, particularly going round bends because it really leans over to the side. You feel a bit vulnerable because you are basically unprotected, the sides are open apart from a low rail, and there is just a sun shade for a roof. They zoom along as fast as any car, but can negotiate a lot of short cuts because they are so small and can get down the narrow lanes that bigger vehicles cannot access. But all in all they are great fun and most of the foreigners using them seem to have the sort of expression on their faces that you see people at the fairground wearing. We have not seen any accidents whilst we have been here, nor any aggressive driving.

In the evening we find another pretty restaurant in a parallel street that is a bit quieter than the mayhem of the Khaosan Road and we have a nice meal and a couple of drinks. We are entertained for quite a while by a troupe of break dancers, who are excellent.

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Then we return to the hotel and finish watching the last couple of episodes of Gavin and Stacey. I wanted to introduce Ella to this fabulous British comedy sitcom and she wasn’t disappointed. It never fails to conjure up a smile and a laugh, and even a tear on occasion. If you aren’t familiar with it – you don’t know what you’re missing!

About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue http://www.magwood.me
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