I’ve been thinking about that line from one of my favourite Hawksley Workman songs after leaving Bangkok yesterday. I arrived in Chiang Mai last evening and it’s been a great change of pace – it’s much smaller, seems cleaner, and the food has been much better.
The people seem friendlier too – guesthouse owner chatted with us, asked us if we wanted recommendations of where to visit, introduced us to his lovely little dog, and we explored a huge night market that comes alive every Saturday. Unlike the night market in Bangkok, it was clean and the merchants were less aggressive – smoking wasn’t permitted and someone came by to clear dishes and rubbish from tables as soon as you were done.
(Sorry to these travellers who are making an unknown appearance here)
Bangkok has 2 million more people than the largest city in Canada. And it somehow feels like it has even more people than that – though I suppose it does from the sheer number of travellers who pass through each day. The Royal Palace has a reported 8 million people visit each year, bringing in what would be ~$160 million CAD annually.
Bangkok made me feel very lucky to live where I do – I saw an incredible amount of poverty. While the city was relatively clean for a place its size, it felt crowded and the Chao Phraya River appeared to also serve as a dumping ground.
At the same time, there seemed to be a lot of resilience and joy. Our bus to the airport was delayed by half an hour due to an impromptu parade where kids were marching through the street lighting firecrackers and the police directing traffic around it.
While I’m glad I spent a few days in Bangkok, the city was a definitely drag – from the pollution to the poverty.
I’m definitely relishing this change of pace.