Marsha and I arrived in India monday late evening, to be greeted by the happy face of my cousin Abhishek at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport. Next day, we took a train to my Grandmother's house in a city called Ludhiana, a 4 hour express train ride from Delhi, in the state of Punjab. Its been great visiting family here. Marsha and I went for a walk in a busy North Indian market today and almost everyone stared at us - looks like they do not get many foreigners in these parts. When it comes to Internet access over here, most connections here seem to be low speed dial-up. The other thing is that a lot of computers here, even in one Internet cafe I visited, are pretty infected by spyware (even worse, a lot of adult XXX type spyware). Interesting thing to keep an eye on as we travel through the country.
One of the more interesting things I have noticed about the backpackers / travellers here is that quite few of them have what look like really high end cameras. Maybe, its just the time I am visting (same time as a convention of budget travel photographers?).
There is an Internet Cafe called the Hello Internet Cafe on Khao San Road and if you have a digital camera, you can often plug your memory card into the card reader at the cafe, and get the images burnt onto CD. All for about $3 Cdn (100 Baht). Putting these imaes onto the web is a little interesting, depending on the speed of their connection. I think its a little fatter than Canadian dial up and little thinner than CDN high speed dsl or cable. Anyway, I think the card reader is a winner service.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the last 5 days of my life. The first day, cruising on the Chao Praya River and having a taste of High Speed Internet access, Thai Style, at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel. Having a look at the Grand Palace in Bankok, which certainly is a wonder of the world, as far as I am concerned. An incredibly beautiful, spiritual place. Lots of tourists, for sure. But, still retains a great majesty. Other observations have not remarked on yet here: Thai people I have heard sing here have wonderful, deep, melodic yet throaty voices...the best lounge singers in the world?
The incomparable Marsha:
this is our last day here. If we weren't leaving the country so soon, I would have been ready to leave this city two days ago. I have mixed feelings about this place. On the one hand, it is dirty, crowded, busy, crazy; on the other hand, it is exciting, fun and crazy. We have not died at the wheels of a tuk-tuk or a taxi, and neither has died at our hand!! So India here we come!!!
After a very interesting visit to Jatujat Market, the world's largest flea market with 8500 stalls, according to one fellow traveler in our hotel, we hopped the Bangkok Skytrain and went to the very upscale Siam Centre area. Paid a visit to a Starbucks there. I had a Green Tea Frappucino. Spied a small poster that listed the Starbucks in Bangkok that now offer WiFi Internet access (think about 6 of them out of 36 stores in Bangkok). Even took a photo of the placard. And, as per weird worldwide Starbucks policy, was told "no photos" by a polite Thai Barista lady. At least Thai people don't really know how to be rude, in my experience.
Have started a small album of photos of Bangkok on the right hand column....more soon once we get to India and I can get a more accessible Internet connection.
My wonderful traveling partner again:
Bangkok means the city of angels. I think it is the city of chaos...We are having a great time here. There are parts to this city that I didn't expect to see and other parts that I thought would be more prominent but aren't...Life here has many dimensions from what I can see in my short 2 day stay...life on the river, in the city, in tourist areas, in markets...you name it, this city probably has it.
We took a tuk tuk ( open taxi cab) twice yesterday - what an exhilerating, dirty experience...Negotiating with the drivers is even more fun.
I've had trouble trying the food not because the food is bad but because the smells here are so strong-enough to turn one's stomach. Even so, the food I've tried has been wonderful.
The people here are warm and friendly, very service oriented. They seem to have a deep pride in their culture and want us tourists to leave with a good impression. No matter what they are doing or what we do or don't pay them, they truly seem interested in showing us their culture and learning a little about where we come from.
As Marsha mentioned in her post below, the people in this city seem unbelievably nice and friendly. On the recommendation from my hair stylists in Kamloops, we are staying at the Royal Hotel in Bangkok. Quite inexpensive but also just a great home base for our stay in Bangkok. Huge free breakfast buffet included in our room price, tour desk in the lobby, totally helpful staff, and 24 hour cafe. Room is impeccably clean with movie channel and 8 or 9 other channels - news, sports, etc.
The hotel also seems to have a diverse variety of guests. Its bustling with functions, events, and parties. There is a lot of staff, in uniform, about so you can always ask for assistance. I like it!
I guess the main point is that we feel we can trust the hotel, in large part, to give us a bit of security in this large and chaotic and wonderful city.
One of the things that I forgot to do before leaving Canada and I really wish I had remembered: buy a travel adaptor kit for electrical plugs. My laptops have no more power left and I went looking for an adaptor here in Bangkok. Found one, bought it, plugged my laptop power cable into it, and then plugged it into the wall socket in my hotel room. ZAP! Blew the power fuse in my room twice and wrecked my surge protector. Lucky did not take the fuse for my whole floor, or worse, the entire hotel out.
Being sort of dependent on my technology, this sucks! Going to have to wait til I get to India where I can get some help from my family. This sucks!
I have invited my wife to post today:
We arrived this morning at 1:00 am...needless to say we were very tired from our plane trip but more from our 7 hour layover at Taipei airport...what a terrible place to be for so long...Bangkok is smelly, hot, humid and chaotic...We've decided to take tours as we have only 3 more days here...also everywhere you walk someone is trying to get you into their cab...tour, sightseeing, tour....The people here in the service industry are extremely helpful, friendly and polite...They don't seem to be too tainted by the tourist. However, in Asia, they seem to know the power of tourism and the almighty dollar unlike many western countries I've travelled in.