That's what Wey asked when we told him we were taking him to Bangkok, a city which you either like or dislike.
Hongkong has the best food and shopping and a beautiful skyline, thanks mainly to the Bank of China building and the South China Sea, Kuala Lumpur is all messed up and only looks good from a distance because of the Petronas Twin Towers, Shanghai is interesting for its history, food and two different skylines viewed from The Bund, Singapore is well-planned, clean but characterless, Tokyo's pleasant because its combines old and new perfectly, with tree-lined boulevards like Omotesando and Ginza and little streets of hidden restaurants and shops, Beijing's another ugly contender (but is worth going to for the amazing historic buildings), and so is Seoul. LA is surprisingly boring except for the outskirts and factory outlets and the amazing houses in Beverly Hills. Boston and Philly are both historic yet modern, San Francisco is beautiful with landmarks like The Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39 and breathtaking stretches along the Pacific, Vancouver is a very pretty but boring city, while Toronto is more cosmo yet very liveable despite its size. New York's all skyscrapers, international headquarters buildings and people are either very rich or very poor, Perth's got King's Park and that's it folks, Sydney's got that iconic but rundown Sydney Opera House, beaches, nice houses on the hills, very good restaurants, Melbourne is pleasant especially around the Crown-Yarra River surrounding, is not too big or small and has been voted for many years running as one of the top 3 most liveable cities in the world. Kota Kinabalu is..... called a city but really its not so I'll spare it my comments.
My prize for The Ugliest City in The World goes to......Bangkok! Architect students, make it a case study of what not to plan and design. For example, the main street, Sukhumvit Rd, is not walkable because of the traffic and the broken, loose and uneven pavement (they can build the world's biggest airport but not fix the main shopping road?). So they built a double-storey walkway (1st level) and light transit rail (2nd level) over the whole stretch of the road. This ugly structure completely hides the view of the new buildings on that road, and it gives you a vista of the whole ugly city. What had/is the government done/doing?!
However, the fantastic food (very colorful radioactive-looking but yummy desserts and a large tasty variety of Thai-indochina dishes), exciting blend of exotic culture, nightlife and cheap shopping (as in cheap useless stuff you buy and then wonder why) make it still a better place to visit than, say, Kuala Lumpur. My only advice is: don't take the tuktuks ! Just don't. They take you round and round and rip you off and all the while you breath in Bangkok's toxic oxidating gases. The taxi drivers aren't better too. Friends highly recommend a Somboon Restaurant but the two times we tried to go, we were brought to the same tourists-only restaurant that charged us 300 Bhat for one small plate of fried kangkong (a veg). The drivers get a commission for bringing tourists there.
We ate 5 meals a day in Bangkok and didn't take many pictures but here are some:
All the newest and glitziest shopping malls are on both sides of this street but the concrete walkway hides everything.
Wey deciding on a toy.
This is at the largest night market, a good alternative for those who don't want to melt in the heat in the world's largest weekend market, Chatuchak.
Night shopping on the streets.
At 8pm everynight, these makeshift stalls will spring up everywhere, even in front of 5-star hotels.
More dense and chaotic than any town in China!
One day we told the tuktuk driver we wanted to go to the old palace. After two hours, I wondered what the fuss was about because, frankly, it was boring and not really pretty. When we left in a taxi, the driver told us that that wasn't the palace, but a wat (temple) that we'd just been to. The name? Wat Pho. Yes, what for did we spend 2 hours there??
Flowers for the wats
Bbq fish, obviously
Street food stall
Typical Thai dishes
Super supermarket, 7th Floor Cental Mall
This has got to be the best supermarket in Asia in terms of quality and variety of international food. It has a large classy food court too.
At the floating village
An hour away from Bangkok, the floating village survived just because of tourists so its very commercialised and phoney. Don't waste your time.
Girls with flowers for Loy Kratong
We were lucky to witness one of Thailand's big festivals, the Loy Kratong. The Thais float these environmentally-friendly (base made from dough or banana stem) flower arrangements into the Chao Praya River with their wishes and prayers. The top hotels like The Oriental Hotel are lined up on both sides of the river, and we took a boat cruise which gave us a great view of the fantastic fireworks display given by these hotels.
We tried four different hotels in 7 nights. The last night, we wanted to sleep luxuriously and managed to get a room online at a boutique hotel, The Davis Bangkok. However, when we checked in, they were full so they put us into, not their ordinary suites but, their Presidential Suite! At no extra charge!
The master wing's on the left and the kids' wing on the right. Taken from the study/kitchen.
One of the bedrooms.
Part of the spa.
Thank you Davis Bangkok!