Author, Biswa Pratim Bhowmick, PhD, lives in New York and has written a travel book in Bengali, “Aletey Goletey Bangkok”, a travelogue on his experiences and rediscovering Bangkok. I was intrigued, Why Bangkok? What has Bangkok of offer more than being a fun city mostly for singles and newlywed couples? Well! It is this stereotype that he aims to break with his book on Bangkok and I am sure by the end of this blog you will be convinced too. I have packed my bags already for Bangkok trip.
Candid Interview With Author Of “Aletey Goletey Bangkok”, Mr Biswa Pratim Bhowmick
Why Visit Bangkok?
Bangkok. Yes Bangkok. We have formed thoughts in our minds about this popular city. Imagine it is just before sunrise. The roads are empty in this otherwise congested city; a pink taxi zooms by and along the pavement walk monks dressed in orange. What would it be like to spend some time walking behind the footsteps of a monk as he goes around collecting the offerings of that day. This is infact one of the short stories in this book.
I have been surprised every time I visit as I find find a whole bunch of things that are fun and unique. I wanted to share with the readers the surprise factor. It is easy to stay away from the night life zones, and Bangkok would be a fun and exciting experience, and not that expensive. Just pick a hotel along the river, close to the new waterfront night market called Asiatique.
I have always wondered why the city is so populated, yet is so clean. The city is cleaned every day. Inspite of so many street vendors, it is still clean. Why is it that every vendor meticulously cleans up their own spot when they leave? Traffic is notorious, yet so organized? People wait patiently in line to get on a Metro train; there is no mad rush once a blue and red train pulls into the station. Once I rented a car with a driver and a local guide. The first thing the guide told me was, “when I speak with the driver I will speak in Thai, please don’t mind” He went on that two locals will always speak in Thai. From the locals I have interacted with, I am often reminded that this country was never a colony of Western rule. Very rare for that part of the world! So is it the simple feeling of pride that makes a Bangkok resident take care of the city the same way they would take care of their home.
How Did You Fell In Love With Bangkok Out Of All The Cities In This World?
I was born and raised in Kolkata. I have lived in New York city for the past 30 years and visit Kolkata every year. My first visit to Bangkok was unexpected. I was trying to use my frequent flier miles on an European airline to get a free ticket to Kolkata, the effort was futile. Desperate to use up these miles I began to research other options and managed to find a free ticket with a partner airline to Bangkok. This was more than 15 years ago, long before the time of etickets. After locating a travel agent in Bangkok I purchased a return ticket from Bangkok to Kolkata on Indian Airlines, so the trip was almost free.
I arrived late night at Bangkok and the connection was late afternoon the next day. I parked myself at a hotel opposite the old airport. I love photography but did not bother to bring my camera. I thought what would be there for me to do in a few hours in Bangkok. To spend the transit time I signed up for a morning tour of the city from the hotel. As we approached the colorful royal palace, I cringed, what a beautiful place to enjoy photography. This was before the time of digital cameras. I darted into a 7 eleven shop and picked up a disposable film camera, those small yellow boxes. It was mesmerizing as we went from the palace to the temple of the reclining Buddha. I hung on to each word of the tour guide, in slow broken English, as she pointed to a statue of the Garuda and narrated the story of a banyan tree from India and the wall paintings of the Ramayana along the inner walls of the Royal Palace.
I was hooked. I made a transit stop on the way to Kolkata during future visits and over time also visited Bangkok as a tourist to continue my exploration. I found the connections to Indian culture quite fascinating. After more than 10 visits I am still finding more interesting things, and I have not yet left Bangkok overnight. I always use local tours and local guides, their stories continue to fascinate. Like the lighting of dia during Diwali, there is a similar celebration which involves floating lighted dia s on the river in Bangkok. The story of the Khon dance, a dance from the Royal court that depicts tales from the Ramayana. I am still looking for my perfect Khnon mask to get as a souvenir, yet to find the perfect one. Still on my target for the next visit.
I was often asked; you have been to Bangkok but have not been to Pattaya. So one time I rented a taxi and made a day trip to Pattaya. The beach was full of vendors sitting under blue and yellow umbrellas. Next to the beach was the infamous Walking street, not so infamous under the bright afternoon sun. It becomes infamous after sunset when car traffic is banned and it becomes pedestrian only. My best memory of the few hours on a hot sunny day in Pattaya was strolling Miniature Siam. A theme park with replicas, a foot and half high, of major buildings and temples from Thailand and some from around the world. Among the visitors was a five year old boy who knelt on the red brick path, criss crossing the lush green grass with the miniature models, dressed in blue jeans and a yellow shirt, head on the ground looking left towards the detailed replica of the Royal Palace, he must have felt like Gulliver.
Is Bangkok A Kid Friendly Place?
There are a several cultural experiences I have enjoyed, all great for children and adults. One cultural center has elephant rides, mahuts in black pants and red shirts waiting to take visitors on elephant rides around the lush green of the cultural center. One mall has a snow world; groups of families with children on a weekend, mostly local. For the ticket price you get some warm clothes and boots and walk into a complex that represents a village covered with snow, it is always fun to play with snow on a very hot day. Another mall had a flight simulator, emulating the ones actually used for training pilots. Imagine a 30 minute lesson on how to fly an aircraft.
Any Tips On Shopping In Bangkok?
During one of my visits I asked that of my tour guide. The plans for the day got changed and I went to a small floating market on the outskirts of Bangkok. This is one place where the locals come on a weekend for their usual household shopping. Hard to find tourists, one of my fond market experiences of sitting on a wooden bench and discovering the not so sweet taste of a coconut based white pudding served on a small bowl made from a green leaf. Finding something new continued with food, trying to find the best Thai food in Bangkok took me to a place which has menu of food from the royal palace. The owner’s mother used to be the chef of the Queen’s kitchen. The son inherited her list of recipes. Not pricey, dishes at INR 800, but the best Thai food I have had so far.
Tell Us About Your Book, Aletey Goletey Bangkok?
So Bangkok is the usual four day trip that is tempting to go as the first place to get a passport stamped, after all it is visa upon arrival. However, these twenty plus stories in my book, Aletey Goletey Bangkok, show there is so much more to keep a family very busy for a whole week and yearn to come back for more. That is the surprise factor from this book, who would have thought of this about Bangkok.
Being on a flight simulator at a new mall, to local night markets to delve into local fashion and to a relatively new night market along the river front. How about starting the morning with a one hour lesson at a Muay Thai camp for some tips on self defense? The variety is fun to read. I have tried to take the reader along for the journey making the reader feel the experience solo; made possible by the rich descriptions and the color photos. From a tale of being at a Thai restaurant that serves food prepared from recipes of the Royal Palace, with a side note on deciphering the details of vegetarian food in Thai, another narration switches to fine dining at roof top restaurants in another chapter. The book is 184 pages and includes over 180 color photographs.
Intrigued Already? Buy The Book NOW
Ebook: Available on Amazon, type the title words in the Amazon search bar. If using Ipad, download the free Amazon Kindle App which may be used to download the Ebooks from Amazon Kindle.
Check out the website: https://bengalitravelogues.com to read three sample chapters from this book and review a collection of photographs.
The print copy is currently available in the College Street area of Kolkata at the store of Dey’s Publishing at 13 Bankim Chatterjee Street, Ph 9874478855; 33 224-12330.
The print copy is also available online in India at www.booksbazarindia.com and may be shipped anywhere in India.
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If this has intrigued you enough, go grab a copy of Aletey Goletey Bangkok NOW! Plan your Bangkok trip with this book as the vital information like phone numbers, websites, etc are provided as footnotes for an interested reader.