22,000 steps yesterday checking out the lay of the land. First impressions: Bangkok is no Seoul but it sure as hell ain’t Manila either (Manila being by far the worst place I ever did see). Bangkok is a big-ass city but for the most part it appears that things work as intended. Yeah, the traffic sucks but that is true in almost every major metropolis. The infrastructure is decent, the streets are relatively clean, I feel generally safer here than I do in the Philippines, and while there is evidence of some poverty it is not as up close and in your face as it is in the PI. There are beggars about but not nearly as numerous as I’m accustomed to seeing in my third world travels and they are certainly far less aggressive than I’ve seen elsewhere.
Part of the purpose of this trip was to ascertain if Thailand might be in play as a future retirement destination. Thus far I can say that although I enjoy city life, I don’t see Bangkok feeling like home. It’s no secret that I like to frequent the bar districts, but the types of bars that are in abundance here just don’t do it for me. With a couple of exceptions the expat community doesn’t seem all that warm and welcoming. And it was no surprise to discover that the language barrier here is huge. What little English the locals I’ve met speak is barely understandable. That’s just not the way I want to live in my adopted “hometown”.
Let’s go to the photos.
During my walkabout yesterday while waiting to cross the street I was vaping away. A young expat warned me to be careful about vaping in public because it is illegal and the police might harass me about it. Thailand actually is a police state, well, controlled by the military anyway. There were cops stationed on just about every corner. Most of them puffing away on cigarettes. On what basis they would outlaw the relatively safer and less offensive vaping habit I cannot say. It did make me a little more discreet and uncomfortable, but not enough to make me not vape while I walk. Hey, it’s what I do. Still, one more check mark in the negative column for Thailand.
Yesterday evening I went out to meet Johnny Witkowski at a dart bar called “The New Cowboy”. While waiting for him to arrive I played a quick game with one of the bar girls. She actually played pretty well, but not well enough to win. The only other customer in the bar wanted to give me a go. A guy from England here to play in a big dart tourney today. I took him in cricket, and he returned the favor in 501. So we played a rubber match during which I managed to eek a win. He’s a more skilled player than I am, but sometimes skill doesn’t win out. I quit while I was ahead.
Had a nice visit with Johnny. He’s on old Seoul guy and played in the dart league back in the 90’s, long before my time. He gave me some tips on finding my way around, and had the bar owner make arrangements for transportation to Pattaya tomorrow. A good guy who made me feel very welcome in a strange city. Thanks for that!
Tonight I’m heading to another entertainment district, Soi Cowboy. Going to try and be a bit more frugal this time. Tomorrow at noon I’ll check out and head down to Pattaya. I don’t think it’s going to be my cup of tea, but I figure I’ll see it once in this lifetime anyway. I’ll return to Bangkok on Thursday. Playing in a darts tourney on Friday. Then hooking up with a friend who’s flying in Saturday. Then I’m outta here in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
More to come!