City of Angels

by Wayne Burns
(Bangkok, Thailand)

The City of Angels, Bangkok, Thailand

Introducing a city invites superlatives, especially when that city is Bangkok. It seems that every travel guide must impress its readers with the most grandiose and arcane aspects of the metropolis into which they are about to dive. But chances are that, for most, Bangkok`s reputation has prededed its reality. So it would be wise of those reading these wordsm who are about to plnge into the maze of Bangkok`s whirl, to review their preconceptions.

Bangkok is undoubtedly a famous place on a global map, a place of intrigue, mystique and even notoriety. And yet interwoven into the intricate tapestry of this bustling, booming metropolis and international transportation hub, is the humility that Buddhism teaches, the splendor of one of the few remaining monarchies in Asia and the simplicity of the rural Thais, many of whom are drawn to this mecca of opportunity to seek their fortunes.

Bangkok of yesterday was invariably approached by either ship or rail and the words of travelers taking those more leisurely forms of transport are accordingly more romantic. For example, envisage the approach of Anna Leonowens, the famous "Anna" in the popular film The King and I. She came by sailing ship and disembarked at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River, which was at that time the main access route to the city. And what did she see?
"...every curve of the river is beautiful, with an unexpectedness of its own. Plantations spreading on either hand as far as the eye could reach, and level fields of living green, billowy with crops of rice, maize and sugar cane..."

Alas, today`s traveler will be immediately confronted by the modernity of it all. The
Bangkok International Airport serves most major airlines and makes Bangkok and important stop on international air routes.

Bangkok International Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is officially open. All domestic and international flights now arrive and depart from this airport.
The airport is reached by high speed rail as well as by shuttle buses and taxis.

As his taxi carries him into the anarchy of Bangkok`s traffic, the traveler may wonder where all the boats and buffalo carts have gone. By the time the city`s outskirts are reached with their glistening skyscrapers and modern shopping plazas, the hapless voyager will realize one salient detail that might have been forgotten in the hurried weeks before departure. Bangkok is the nerve center of one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Romance in the fabled East may still be found, but the boomtown bustle makes it certainly more elusive than in the days when Anna sailed up the River of Kings.

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