Saturday, February 09, 2013

Thailand - December 2012



In Korea to give a talk so took a side trip to Thailand. Kinda neat to finally visit both, having been eating those cuisines for a long time. Tyler Cowan suggested that these may be the most uncorrupted Asian cuisines in the US, since they haven't been around long enough to adapt to the US politics like say Chinese and Indian and Japanese have. But it was nice to see it at the soruce.

Had a good start on Asiana airlines, serving a nice Bibimbop in flight, and still preserving a few international amenities like slippers and toothbrushes and mouthwash.

The thing I noted most about Thailand was its sense of style, at least compared to my other visits in Asia (cambodia, vietnam, china, malaysia, bali). Probably because its rich enough to afford nice things, but developed recently enough before those nice things started looking dated and worn. Everything from the ancient grand palace and temple, to the official iphone app, to magazine brochures, hotel decorations, menus, receipts, to the apron at the cooking class, all showed a classy contemporary aesthetic, with muted colors and understated design, a contrast say to the garish dirty nouveau riche new China.

A short trip but visited the grand palace and historic temples dating from the 1700s, still active due to the active ubiquitous monarchy (the longest reigning living monarch) and living buddghist faith, and well maintained in vivid colors. Got to see the now-touristy floating market and dined boat side from floating vendors, most notably culturally to see the juxtaposition of the more traditional thai houses, and the younger modern thai tourists. Went swimming in the lovely and large jasmine scented pool, took a super fun cooking class taught by a ladyboy (maybe) in a residential part of bangkok, got a ringside spot to watch the Thai kickboxing (girlfight) put on at the MBK mall (biggest mall I have ever seen). Hunted a new iphone case from a succession of vendors starting at $3 on the street, then $6 at train station, then $12 at the mall stand, then $30 at one of the dozens of apple retailers at the mall. Wrapped up with midnight drinks on the 60th story Red Sky bar, with spectacular views.


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