Archive for August 4th, 2020

 

Room With A View

Linda Lou Burton posting about Bangkok, Thailand from Little Rock, Arkansas – “We were promised rooms with a view of the Arno!” Miss Charlotte fusses, frowning at the ordinary street scene just out the window. Remember the movie Room With a View? Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) and her spinster chaperone Miss Charlotte (Maggie Smith) enter their hotel room in Florence only to discover they’ve been misassigned. The plot of the movie hinges on that moment, though Miss Lucy claimed the view didn’t matter. Maggie Smith’s chin was set in that Maggie Smith way, insisting that it did most certainly matter; “It’s your first impression of Italy!”

I’m with Miss Charlotte on that point. It matters. All my hotel bookings for the NDI RTW ranked “view” over “cost” in every instance. A view right into Kilauea crater in Hawaii. A view over the harbor in Wellington. A view across the desert to the big red rock in Uluru. A view across the beach to the Indian Ocean in Perth. I like to go to sleep and wake up with priceless images chunking themselves into my memory bank. Store them for later, like maybe when I’m mopping the kitchen floor. Been THERE, my brain reminds me, calling up a visual of the Sahara. Done THAT. This morning, my memory bank is loading up, because Bangkok and the Chao Phraya are just beyond the blink of my eye. Look at what I get to see before I even get out of my pajamas! A panoramic view, as promised.

This hotel has 533 rooms and a lounge named “360” on the very top of it, so “a view” is there to be had in every direction, all of the time. Just last night I made a late-call on that rooftop lounge. There is also a rooftop bar “in the open” here, and, I note, there seems to be a competition in Bangkok for the highest space and the widest view. One high-rise bar is named Vertigo!

But a view doesn’t have to be expansive to be memorable. Some of the best sights are up close and personal, like the view from a longtail boat as you glide through the city’s narrow canals, or klongs. That is your new Thai word for today – klongs.

At One Time It Was Called Venice

Klong means “canal” and there are 1,682 of them in Bangkok, covering about 1,600 miles. At one time Bangkok had the nickname, “Venice of the East.” Klongs were used for transportation, for floating markets, and yes, for sewage disposal. Today, most of the klongs of Bangkok have been filled in, although the Thonburi side of Bangkok, covering areas west of Chao Phraya River, still retains several of its larger klongs. Klong Saen Saep in central Bangkok is a significant thoroughfare in Bangkok’s public transportation network. The Thai word “klong” is not limited to artificial canals, by the way; many small rivers are referred to as “klongs,” followed by the name of the stream.

I Promised I Wouldn’t Talk About Congestion, but

Even with its many lovely options for water transportation, Bangkok suffers the problems any city has when there are too many cars and not enough roads. Great effort has been made to remedy that with the Bangkok Mass Transit System, commonly known as the BTS or the Skytrain. This elevated system consists of 52 stations along two lines with a combined route length of 33 miles. Bangkok’s rapid transit system also includes the underground and elevated Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) railway lines, the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT), and the elevated Airport Rail Link (ARL), serving several stations in the city before reaching Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Just think, it may be fast-moving, but a ride on an elevated train is an excellent way to see a large city such as Bangkok. Thirty-three miles of looking out your window at a “changing by the second” view.

Lots of images to store in the old memory bank.