If you think Pattaya is only about sleaze, think again

(Reposted because of its mysterious disappearance from my blog)

IMG_5383Many folks familiar with Southeast Asia perceive Pattaya as a city with a dirty beach on the Gulf of Thailand, streets lined with hookers, ready access to illegal drugs and frequent brushes with violence.

Yet such a broad brush overlooks and, I think, overstates Pattaya’s proximity to Bangkok (a two-hour, $3 bus ride from the capital city), and its plentiful positive aspects.  I have managed to sample only a few of them on two visits this year .

When I tried the ocean, Continue reading

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Exercising or eating, Cambodians throng parks nightly

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Players use various smaller or professional-looking footballs. Most of their goals lack nets, which can be as informal as a couple of sandals or the jerry-built one in the photo above.  

They are a hive of a disparate activities, two adjacent parks close to the center of Phnom Penh.

Divided from each other by a busy avenue, the L-shaped expanses near Wat Botum and Independence Monument in Phnom Penh comprise more pavement than greenery and escape neither the din nor sight of traffic.

Weekend evenings are naturally the most popular. Yet they attract Cambodians of many stripes every night, though I sense none from the small class of elites.

Those who do frequent the parks seem variously to be students and office workers, proud lesbians, gays and transgenders, kids and their parents, beggars and monks.  Many purposefully stride the length of the area with Independence Monument at one end to get or keep in shape.

They may be  Continue reading

Young Cambodians swarm 4-month-old night market

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The main parking area. Vehicles jam the intersection outside one corner as they jockey for a space.

Night markets are an enduring feature of countries in Asia.  The one in Phnom Penh’s Riverside neighborhood leaves me cold, but I remember being enamored of the first one I visited.  It was in Hong Kong in the mid 90s.

Well, there’s a new night market in Phnom Penh across from a distant corner of the Russian Embassy and virtually within sight of the modern Aeon mall.  As I walked there Saturday night for a look, a steady streams of motos doubtless had no other destination in that direction. Indeed, I discovered that is where they were going.

When I threaded my way through one of the parking areas to what is dubbed Jet’s Container market, Continue reading

Month in Bangkok drives a decision on moving there

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Somewhat dated and romanticized view of “downtown” Phnom Penh with Central (or, in Khmer, “New”) Market in foreground. Source: Cambodia Hotels and Travel Guide

Part 2 of 2

In the first of two parts regarding whether moving to Bangkok from Phnom Penh was a good idea, I listed a number of pluses.

If you read Part 1, it will not surprise you to learn that Continue reading

Bangkok would be a mixed blessing for this expat

Flower delivery for Lunar New Year in Bangkok

Part 1 of 2

After three and a half years living Phnom Penh, I have developed itchy feet, a symptom of which is my increasingly frequent travel to other countries.

One country I have visited several times over the years is Thailand, next door, and I have much appreciated the contrasts between Bangkok’s, size, food and diversions to Phnom Penh’s.  Smaller cities in Thailand have their winning characteristics, but I don’t find that they enjoy the same vitality or energy for me as the capital while they certainly provide significantly more opportunities for all that nature offers.

I have been wondering whether we should make our home there.  We still own almost nothing more than can fit in two large suitcases each, so it is no problem in that respect to pick up and go.

But does it make sense?

To approach a decision, Continue reading

Bangkok building takes architecture to new heights

Meandering around central Bangkok recently, I kept seeing from different angles a startling building nearing completion.  It arrested me from every point of view, and it is as memorable to me as the Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

I looked up the nearly completed skyscraper online, and dezeen architecture and design magazine provided me with background that I have shamelessly extracted here in part.

At 314 meters, or 1,030 feet, the MahaNakhon tower was intended to be Continue reading

Festival in Bangkok central park sets splendid standard

img_3990Having reported on and attended in other capacities an incalculable number of parades, festivals, street fairs and similar special events, I have become rather jaded about them.

But the 2017 Thailand Tourist Festival —  which this year apparently replaced a celebrations of the Lunar New Year in Bangkok’s Chinatown in tribute to the memory of the late king — blew me away.  By changing the focus, the government felt able to respect the year-long mourning period since his death last fall.

img_3886The event in the city’s centrally situated Lumphini Park took place from last Wednesday through Sunday.  It was a triumph of organization, diversions and civilized crowds of almost impenetrable size on the weekend, somewhat less thronged before then.  I was there on three days.

The organizers had divided the space according to five of the country’s regions, plus a section devoted to China.

I very much enjoyed Continue reading