Is there something wrong with me?
After having spent one week in Bangkok, I am sorry to say I’m not sure what the fuss is about…The internet is full of people celebrating Bangkok as one of those places you simply HAVE to visit. A place you’ll be dying to go back to as soon as you’re home in your comfort zone. I didn’t get any of that. What did I miss?
I did the temples (man, did we do temples), I admired the golden Buddhas (both the lying one and the standing one as well as a handful of others), I discovered the backwaters by boat (which, I admit it, was a highlight), we *did* Kao San Rd (which felt more like Fuengirola than Bangkok) and we ventured into lesser known districts to unveil the not so touristy parts.
Yet, nothing quite felt exotic enough. Not ONCE did I feel the buzz of being overwhelmed with the place. Maybe it’s not Bangkok’s fault. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I went there with too high expectations. Maybe I was hoping it would fascinate me in the same way Saigon blew my mind a few years ago?Maybe I fell into the ultimate traveller’s trap – the one where you find yourself comparing places, even if you know there’s absolutely no point in doing so.
Saigon is Saigon, and Bangkok is Bangkok. I get that. However, don’t tell me Bangkok is a must. I looked hard and long for the magic, I ate weird street food, I hopped on endless tuk tuks, I was definitely up for tuning into Bangkok’s soul, and still – no buzz. Now, to be painfully honest, it may just be that I am getting old. I may just have seen enough places to know that Bangkok is nothing more than a wannabe European city.
To me, it lacked authenticity. There were very few elements that actually made me feel I was in Asia. Nobody wore traditional clothing, except the women selling souvenirs to tourists. The traffic was chaotic, but not frighteningly so, if you know what I mean. The food was mostly noodles and rice based, but you never had to look far for a splash of Western influence. The Seven Elevens which are everywhere to be found, made it possible to stop for a packet of M&M’s whenever we felt like it. And don’t get me started on the happy hours. You find them advertised on every street corner in the touristy areas.
Enough. I am not trying to paint a bleak picture of Bangkok or to stain its reputation as a must on most people’s itinerary. I am only trying to get to the bottom of this. What did I miss?!
If you think I am mistaken, please enlighten me. If you agree, PLEASE let me know. It’ll make me feel a lot more normal knowing that I am not the only one who hasn’t been seduced by Bangkok!