Someone had warned me that Bangkok was a highly polluted and crowded city. But I found Bangkok to be pretty and very agreeable (perhaps because I was coming in from an even more crowded Bangalore). The city has so many flyovers that it almost seems that Bangkok has ‘multistoreyed’ roadways (when I see all these flyovers I am again baffled: why can’t Bangalore get just one flyover done on Airport Road in almost three years?).

 Bangkok also had so many high-rise buildings (many more than Bangalore) that I wondered what was going on inside all of them. The locals told me that automobiles, textiles and tourism were Bangkok’s biggest trade sectors. The business pages in the city’s English newspaper also screamed of billion Baht (the Thai currency) deals and scams. So there are obviously big things happening in Bangkok but I didn’t know how to identify them or relate to them.

 It was of course easy to relate to the city’s booming tourism business. There must be hundreds of very fancy (and surprisingly cheap) hotels. Every street also seems to have at least a dozen massage parlours, and every parlour seems to be doing good business. I saw one parlour that wanted 450 Bahts (a Baht approximately equals a Rupee) only for a big toe massage! I was also very pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a courteous namaste everywhere I went. The greeting was so graceful, that I wondered if the Thais don’t do it better than the Indians.

 I also noticed that the Thais on the road always seem to be either cooking or eating. The most popular fare being served was something that looked very much like Indian bhajjis; and yet I didn’t find a single obese Thai on the streets. It also rained a lot on the first morning (a depression from Vietnam, the locals said), but it bothered me to see practically no water-logging. When I finally saw one modest water puddle, I felt a lot better.

The Bangkok airport seemed to extend many kilometers, and the tarmacs and runways were full of airplanes. There was none of that familiar confusion that one finds at Indian airports, in fact not even a raised voice. Our travel guide later told us that speaking in a loud voice was not considered polite; gently tapping a shoulder to gain attention was even more impolite. As we were flying back to Bangalore, I decided that Bangkok was a rather nice place to visit: it offers a widely different experience and is rather inexpensive. Best of all, it’s not too far. Our return Thai Airways flight took 3h 10m to return to Bangalore.

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