Land of Smiles


LAND OF SMILES

I just arrived in Bangkok after about a 2 hour flight from China. I stepped off the plane and… BAM! 95 degrees of hot air in yer face. I left 70 degrees back in China.

Going through Thai immigration was quick and no hassle.

I arrived to my hotel in Bangkok about an hour later and settled in. Everything here still looks about the same. Lots of cars, noise and general mayhem everywhere. My plan is to stay here 4 days and then go to Koh Samui island for a week. Then I will return to Bangkok for 3 days before returning to China. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

There are some noticeable changes to Thailand that I discovered. The biggest of which is the language issue. The Thais have mastered English to the extreme. Before I found workers in the service business were pretty good with English. This includes about 50% of the restaurants, hotels, bars and major shopping centers. Now this has all changed. It is difficult to find a Thai that does not speak English! Everybody can understand you now. Even street venders! I cannot believe it. What pills are they taking? Also all the signs are also English. Here is no language barrier here now. Of course there is a downside to this as well. Western influence is everywhere. The Thai culture is eroding away and leaving a Western flavor behind. Women wearing the latest fashions as well as shorts and mini skirts. Something very rare only a few years ago. Happily you still feel immersed in another very different culture, but there are big changes here.

Koh Samui is changing so quickly. Many new resorts are being built. Condos and villas are all over the island now. The little towns have grown to small towns now. I expect in another 5 years this little paradise will evolve into another major tourist destination. Still, it is a beautiful place with perfect beaches at reasonable prices. I suspect much of this development is due to the tsunami destruction to Phuket. Although Phuket is back in business, many tourists want another location more protected from this trouble. At any rate, Samui has really changed, but still worth a visit.

Check out the pics. The girl with the scorpions holds the Guinness World record for living in a small box with several hundred of these buggers for 2 weeks. The pic of me on the rooftop of the Banyan Tree Hotel in Bangkok at sunset affords a great view of Bangkok. You can dine outside up here, or just relax at the bar. The panorama shot is 3 pics stitched together and shows about a 120-degree view of Bangkok.

I also had a great time in Bangkok. Did some shopping and a lot of eating. Can’t get enough of that Thai food! All in all I can only say…. “Amazing Thailand”.

Next week I am taking a few days to drive about 4 hours from Kunming to Yuan Yang, to see the farming fields. China uses terraced fields to farm up the sides of the mountains. It is truly amazing how they do this. Right now these fields are flooded with water for planting which reflects the sunlight like a thousand mirrors on these mountains. I am anxious to photograph these mountains. Stay posted…………..

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