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What a difference!
Dhaka (Bangladesh) to Bangkok (Thailand), Mar-14-08 / Mar-21-08
Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Bangkok (Thailand) are only a two-and-a-half hour flight apart from each other. However, the difference between the two cities is really huge. You can say it is some kind of culture shock! From boisterous mosques and covered women in Bangladesh, to ultra modern shopping malls and diaphanous mini skirts in Bangkok. What a difference!

We used our last days in Dhaka mainly to work on our website. We still had to write some articles and we also had to finish our photo impression about Sundarbans. We wanted to have everything uploaded before we left Bangladesh. Besides that, we visited often the dinner buffets in the top end restaurants to escape from the dahl (lentil soup), roti (bread) and sabji (mash of vegetables) and tried to get rid of our fleas. At least, we think that it were fleas. In one of the last hotels we visited in Dhaka, Ivonne got red spots everywhere on her body. Edwin got the same kind of spots a couple of days later. It was definitely not an allergic response on mosquito bites because we always slept under a mosquito net. Besides that, we got the red spots also on places where mosquitos could not bite, like on your feet while we were sleeping under a blanket. It was definitely a bite of some kind of flea, lice or bed bug. We visited several pharmacies to show the red spots on our bodies and most of them wanted to sell us an anti-mosquito cream. But, at the end we found somebody who thought is was not the result of mosquito bites and sent us away with real anti-scabies cream. We also asked our hotel to change the bed sheets every day and we decided to wash all our cloths. A couple of days later, most of the red spots were disappeared. Unfortunately not all of them disappeared, meaning that some of them travelled with us to Bangkok. Now, after almost a week in Bangkok, we can easily say that we finally got rid of our fleas.

The ultra modern shopping centre Central World Plaza in Bangkok
We are not sure about how our fleas experiences our first hours in Bangkok, but we were astonished. After a flight of a little bit more than two hours, we arrived on the new and ultra modern international airport of Bangkok, named Suvarnabhumi. Getting money from one of the many ATM’s was no problem, so within an hour after ‘touch down’ we were on our way in the airport bus to the city centre. Undoubtedly, we must have looked outside with open mouths like two kids in a candy store. What a difference with the cities in the Indian sub continent. There is no dirt on the streets, everywhere are small restaurants and food stalls, women are wearing mini skirts, there are huge shopping malls, the traffic is organised and most importantly, there is cosiness in the city. This is a great place to recharge our batteries before we travel further to Myanmar. We decided to check in a small hotel in the city centre, near the huge Siam Shopping Centre. This is not the area where most backpackers stay, because most of them stay in the backpacker’s ghetto Banglamphu. But staying in downtown was the best choice for us because we had a long list of actions to do in Bangkok. From arranging a visa for Indonesia and bringing a visit to a travel clinic for information about the Japanese Encephalitis vaccination, to buying a light weight tripod for our camera. But the first action on the list was a visit to the dentist, the morning after we arrived in Bangkok.

The next morning we took the Sky Train (a kind of Metro, but above the ground) to one of the Dental Hospitals in Bangkok. Ivonne had bitten too enthusiastically in a carrot last week, resulting is a small damage of her teeth fixation. A small part of the glue that keeps the fixation on the right position was gone. We have asked the Dutch Embassy in Dhaka to give us the address of a reliable dentist in Dhaka, but they told us that the employees of the Dutch Embassy always decided to travel to Bangkok for dental treatments. And because our next destination was Bangkok, we decided to wait till we are in Bangkok. When we arrived at the dental hospital, we were astonished again. The dental hospital is housed in a nice building, has a small internal pond in the lobby and even has a small café! All treatments can be done here, from regular examinations to dental surgeries, and everything in between. All process flows in the hospital are designed around the patient, and not around the agenda of the dentist. That means that most of the time, all treatments can be done in one visit and without long waiting. Ivonne had only made an appointment to re-glue her teeth-fixation, but when the dentist decided that a regular examination, an x-ray and dental cleaning was also wise to do, everything was possible. Two hours later, everything was done! And it cost only 50 Euros (= 75 US$).

A western guy with his new Thai "love"

The next day, we decided to visit the tourist ghetto Banglamphu because this is the best place to find good and cheap cyber cafes. It was time again to Skype (calling over the internet) with our parents. Finding a good connection in Bangladesh was almost impossible. There is one famous street in Banglamphu where you have the feeling of being on the Spanish Costa Brava. There are plenty of souvenir shops, restaurants and bars. The tourists massively walk on flip flops, wear clothes for which they are too old or too fat, and drink a lot of beer. This is also a place where Rasta haircuts and tattoo’s are still popular and where you find a high concentration of Thai’s for which it is difficult to decide what sex they have. The area leaves a cheap and vulgar impression. Or maybe, we are a little bit too old for these kinds of areas….

By the way, sex is big business in Bangkok. Bangkok is a popular destination for especially western men looking for cheap sex. On the one hand, there are many hetero men looking for (very young) girls and women, and on the other hand there are many gays looking for men with the same sexual orientation. This gay business is so lucrative for Thai men, that some of them decided to pose as gay, including all related activities, to take also a small part of the growing gay business in Bangkok and maybe to catch a sugar daddy for the future. Many (older) western men come to Bangkok to find their new “love” in one of the many sex bars. The result is that you see many grandpapa’s in the city, walking hand-in-hand with a too young, high heeled, Thai Barbie. In the book stores of Bangkok, you can find many books about “wow to deal” with your new Thai girlfriend. One of the funniest anecdotes that we read was the following: “You do not have to be afraid to lose you Thai girlfriend, but you have to take into account that you will lose you place in the queue once in a while.”

We used the remaining part of the week to relax, eat some fabulous food, do some shopping and enjoy the atmosphere of this nice city. It is great to be anonymous again. It is possible to sit in a park or on the stairs of one of the many shopping malls without being photographed or being accosted by local people. Bangkok is the perfect place to take a rest for a while before heading further on the travel trail. But now, we are ready for Myanmar!


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