If we were asked to represent three South-East Asian capitals by tropical fruits, we might think of clean, green Singapore as a fresh lime, and richer-flavoured Kuala Lumpur, perhaps as a ripe pineapple. Employing this imagery, the association that immediately springs to mind for Bangkok is the king of tropical treats, the delicious, delightful and delectable durian. Granted, this head-sized botanical wonder with its thick spiky skin and soft yellow flesh, is very much an acquired taste. It is like a smelly cheese is to a connoisseur, and the fruit’s initial effect on a novice’s nostrils can be just as overwhelming as the first impressions of the Thai capital on an unsuspecting new arrival, fresh from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Bangkok not only has a unique flavour, it possesses a potentially highly addictive mix of subtle qualities, which once experienced, can lure visitors back again and again.
Hotels all over the city will tell you of again-and-again-guests who have become close friends of staff and management through repeated, often annual, visits. Given the air and noise pollution, the motorised chaos, and the often searing temperatures, it is not easy for "outsiders" to understand the attraction. Even if you ask those geriatric aficionados why they keep coming back, they tend to reply in non-specifics. "Oh, we just love it here" is a common response. If you dig deeper, it may be followed by any or all of the following:- the people, the food, the temples, the river, the canals, the smiles, the charm, the smells, the friendliness and the friends made, the sounds, the shopping, and the atmosphere.
Out on the street, you can take a ride on a "Tuk Tuk", Bangkok’s open-sided three wheeled taxi. Roaring through the traffic to enjoy a great time in the city, you can wave to all as they happily wave back - in a way that only happens in Thailand.
In this incense-filled microcosm of Asia, the roar of the traffic is curiously muted by the music from the small Thai orchestra performing at one side. Dancers and worshippers block the view to the street outside. Offerings of sweet-smelling garlands, stacked up over the hours, rise higher than people's heads.
Certainly, Bangkok is no ordinary spot on the globe:
Great city of angels, the supreme repository of divine jewels, the great land unconquerable, the grand and prominent realm, the royal and delightful capital city full of nine noble gems, the highest royal dwelling and grand palace, the divine shelter and living place of reincarnated spirits.