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Nabeel Farah


Bangkok, Thailand

 After a long night on the town fried crickets and sautéed cockroaches do little to entice the western palate, but the innumerable post-midnight street vendors somehow seem to make a living peddling their cuisine.

Thiswas my second swing back through Thailand this trip, I was quite excited to behold all the mayhem that is Bangkok. Bangkok is so much more than uncanny traffic jams, pollution and humidity. The two most rewarding was to traverse this most surreal of cities is by water taxi or tuk-tuk taxi.   The later is essentially a three-wheeled motorcycle with a seat in the back. The gridlock of Thai avenues is no obstacle for the fearless tuk tuk driver. A night ride on a tuk tuk can be a harrowing experience. The tuk tuk careens past huge buses weaving and darting haphazardly though red lights and against traffic. The ride is surreal as the humid air flows through the hair, the radiant neon lights of go-go bars reflect brightly off rain soaked streets and glowing night market tents abound.

It was via tuk tuk that I arrived at Lampini stadium. The violence of Muay Thai kickboxing is best appreciated ringside. For a relatively modest fee I was privy to the ringside spectacle and flying blood and sweat that mark this most brutal of sports. It is said that in an effort to enhance imperviousness to pain, some fighters pre-medicate with a little pre-fight opium.  Most of the local Thais sit further back behind the caged perimeter. Wagering locals shout passionately as the pugilists spar, all the while a steady droning beat emanates from a huge drum and Thai horn in the background. One competitor was wheeled off on a stretcher knocked out and still unconscious amidst cheers and heckles.

The Wats and temples of Bangkok also merit special mention. Hundreds of temples big and small great the visitor seemingly around every corner. Huge gold towers spiral into the sky as giant demon statues ominously peer at orange robed monks ambling in the courtyards.

About two hours outside Bangkok is the city of Rachaburi lie the floating markets. The canals are picturesque and are teaming with small two-foot wide boats. Old women with muak ngob hats peddle cooked foods, fresh produce, and other random items from their small vessels.

 The beaches of southern Thailand

There are no roads on the island of Kho Phi Phi, Thailand. And so it logical follows that there are no cars or even motorcycles. The only way to get around is by foot and longboat. Approaching the tropical lagoon for the first time the visitor is greeted by an untrammeled shoreline full of massive bight green palms.  The water is of course a pristine turquoise aqua color and the lagoon stretches far, almost stuff of fiction (as a matter of fact Leonardio de Caprios great cinematic flop, The Beach, was filmed on on of the island of Kho Phi Phi).


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