Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bangkok Adventure

Bangkok has been rocked by civil unrest amidst the protests of the thousands of ‘red shirts’ demonstrators in the streets of Bangkok since March this year.

The tourism industry of Thailand has been severely affected with many countries issuing travel advisories for its people against Bangkok. Thailand used to be a country of smiles and a popular travel destination for many and it is hence it is really a regret that this good country blessed with no foreign occupations, natural resources and friendly people is now a cauldron of political and civil upheaval!

My wife and I had our share of adventures in Bangkok. No, we did not visit Bangkok at the time where the ‘red shirts’ were protesting, neither did we join them. Our adventure was related to something that many Singaporeans have taken for granted: a liveable and comfortable cityscape.

When I visited Bangkok the other time with my wife, what left an indelible impression on me and my wife was the ‘fantastic’ roads!

I still recalled fondly the “cultural shock” my wife and I had on the first day we stepped out of our hotel in Bangkok to make our way to some of the biggest shopping malls in South East Asia. We were shocked to be confronted with such disorderliness of the roads! There were no pedestrian crossings, no traffic lights for pedestrians, and cars, tutus, motorbikes were all over the place, just inches away from us! To cross the road, one simply cannot wait for a motorist to give way to us; we had to make a dash fast and quick to the opposite end. There were also no pavements near our hotel and we realised that having completed the ‘feat’ of crossing the road, our share of ‘close shaves’ were far from over: we had to ‘make-do’ with the sides of the roads as pavements and contended with the dozens of cars, taxis, motorbikes, bicycles as well as pedestrians for walking space all within the same congested roads!

It was such a miracle not to be killed by the simply chaotic roads. The moment we stepped out of the hotels to be greeted by the road madness, we actually asked ourselves whether we had come to the right place. After the first day of long walk from Indra’s place, past Pratuman market, Central World and finally to Mah Bo Kong, we were immensely tired already and the very fact of having to pass through the dangerous roads, navigate through the masses of vehicle and people simply was simply discomforting to us.

We had in our hands heavy bags of goodies to bring back to Singapore. Then we recalled having to buy some bottles of water to last us through the nights, I brought three 1.5 litres of mineral water from a nearby 7-11 and stuffed them all in my haversacks. With the few heavy bags of goodies in my hands as well as the few kilograms of water in my haversack, I felt like a commando, ready for battle! My battle was the messy traffic and roads as well as escorting my little princess (my wife) back to our hotel!

The next two days, we grew more familiar of the roads and pavements in Bangkok. I must add that there is orderliness amidst the disorderliness of the roads: the locals had simply no problem to cross the roads. They do not rush across the roads, they simply walked slowly, oblivious to the traffic coming and the ongoing cars simply gave way to them just in time before an accident is to occur! To all Singaporean readers, let us feel grateful that we have a world-class land transport system here in our country!

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