Thursday, November 8, 2007

Imagining Bangkok

This is Part 1 of a two part blog I'm writing on Bangkok. I'm going to be in that city tomorrow so I want to detail all of my preconceived ideas of what I imagine Bangkok to be like. I am also going to do a list of all of the sources that have influenced my ideas of Bangkok, so when I get there I'll write another blog (Part 2) about the reality of the city and how it compares to my preconceptions. And Part 1 also allows YOU to share your thoughts and experiences on and of Bangkok, for the sake of kicks and more comparisons.

I imagine downtown Bangkok will have a real flashy side. Like Chapel street with a shitload of neon. There will be clubs blasting lots of horrible music like House except it will be ok because of the context. But fused with the flashy side will be a seedy side and a poverty side. I expect beggars and the homeless to be alongside the rich and glamorous. There'll be trashy strip joints and 'massage' parlours etc, and all of this will be mixed together but whenever you read about this area they will only mention the flashy parts.

There will be more tourists than what I thought possible. Tourists escaping their lives in the West. Tourists looking for the 'Real Thailand' (Vietnam). Sex tourists, shopping tourists, adventure tourists, 'sea, sun, sand' tourists, drug tourists, food tourists, drunk tourists, tourists with bad hairstyles and shithouse tattoos, sunburnt tourists, crazy looking tourists, hippy tourists, and also tourists who will be some of the coolest people I've ever met.

Khao San will have two to three storey buildings on either side and the whole street will have a claustrophobic vibe, because it'll be really packed. The buildings will have shit hanging off of them everywhere - lots of clothes, signs and flags. There will be lots of vendors selling awesome yummy food and fresh fruit, and also selling lots of tourist garbage. It will be very LOUD. The tourists in Khao San will be more of the backpacker style, and the mix of nationalities will be fairly cosmopolitan. Not just aussies, but lots of Europeans from all over that continent, plus heaps of Israelis relative to their population. The Americans there will be the cool types.

The downtown area will be surrounded by really poor areas. The city will be pretty safe most of the time. I'll get harassed a bit by dudes trying to sell shit but it won't be much of a problem. Public transport will be pretty good. The traffic will suck.

Ok, I could go on for longer but I'm writing this from the library in Darwin's Parliament House, so I don't have much time. Tell me what you imagined and tell me how right or wrong I am!


- word of mouth from friends and people at parties

- The Beach by Alex Garland (one of my favourite books)

- The Ends of the Earth by Robert Kaplan

- Lonely Planet guidebooks

- movies

- my imagination

- my experiences in Africa

- TV shows

- photos taken by friends in South East Asia

The following academic journal articles on backpacking:

- Erik Cohen's Thai Prostitutes and Farang Men: The Edge of Ambiguity

- Teo and Leong's A Postcolonial Analysis of Backpacking

(these two are from the journal Annals of Tourism Research)

The following academic books

- In the Cities of the South by Jeremy Seabrook

- Planet of Slums by Mike Davis

I think they're the major ones. Look out for Part 2!

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