Bangkok Three Different Days
1) People watching
Like any great city, Bangkok is a great place to watch your fellow humans at work and play. Maybe the best place to do this is on one of the most cosmopolitan and busiest streets in the capital, the backpacker centre Khao Sarn Road. This street has improved a lot since a few years ago, when it was populated by a boringly homogenous set of people whose Thai-fisherman clothes jarred with their silly hairstyles and whose conversation, which mostly revolved around narcotic excesses on Koh Phi Phi and at Koh Phangan's Full Moon Party, included the words 'like' and 'mai pen rai' irritatingly often.
Recently Khao Sarn has become popular with Thais and a more varied set of Westerners, and at weekends takes on an almost carnival atmosphere, with live music, peculiar street performances and the world's highest concentration of VW minibuses converted into bars. Maybe while away a while gossiping about the relationships between the random strangers who pass ("is that her Granddad or is it her boyfriend?"), or hone up your fashion sense by discussing the fashion faux pas of the passing throngs.
2) Macabre Museums
The Siriraj Museum, whose exhibits are too horrifying to describe on these pages, is possibly the grossest museum in the world. If you have a strong stomach and an appetite for the macabre, this is the place for you. If you manage to hang on to your guts then, for a real challenge, head on to the Corrections Museum, which includes a display of the instruments of torture used to get confessions out of state prisoners in bygone days. Quite why torture was ever used for this purpose is a mystery, as the prisoner would obviously admit to anything rather than have these arcane lumps of red-hot metal applied in unprintable ways to his body.
3) Crocodile Farm and Ancient City
Thirty kilometres southeast of Bangkok lies the Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm, where 60,000 animals are farmed for their hides and meat. It's quite a sight to see a handler enter an enclosure full of dozens of huge crocs and push them around like sheep. Apparently they are too well-fed to bother taking a bite out of the handler, unless he has annoyingly interrupted their mid-day snooze. However, not averse to a bit of human flesh to spice up their diet of geriatric battery chickens, in 2002 the crocs devoured a Thai woman, who committed suicide by jumping into a pit at feeding time and whose last act was to thankfully embrace the crocodile that was tearing her apart. The farm is almost the last abode of the crocodile in Thailand, as only two individuals are known to exist in the wild but in romantically inconveniently different places.
Ancient City, a nearby attraction, is a 200 acre park shaped like Thailand, on which models of Thailand's present and past architectural wonders have been placed in the geographically appropriate places. Beautifully laid-out grounds, small waterfalls and manicured lawns make this a lovely place to spend a few hours. If it's not too hot or there's a bit of a breeze, a snooze under one of the trees outside the replica of the Grand Palace of Ayudhaya is highly recommmended.
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