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Traveling to America via Bangkok

Sunday, September 21, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 8:52 PM IST





This year, I took my annual flight to PowerPoint Live in San Diego on a different route -- choosing Bangkok rather than Singapore as the transit point. That decision provided me with a bunch of expereinces -- let me start with Bangkok, the city and the airport.

Bangkok is always different -- the first thing that assails a vegetarian is the smell of meat -- that's everywhere in the city and pervades the air. The first time I was in Bangkok, it took me 2 days to just get used the smell in the air! The city itself moves at break-neck speed -- something is happening all the time. Whether you are on the street or in a mall, there are nuances that will leave an impression in your mind all the time.

Since I was in Bangkok only for a few hours, I did not do any sightseeing. My hotel was in in Sukhumivit area -- close to all the malls, street shopping, restaurants, and the train stations.

The Suvaranabhumi international airport reflects the nature of the city itself -- it's nowhere as efficient as Kuala Lumpur or Singapore -- surprisingly, the new airport at Hyderabad from where I flew from seemed much more efficient than Suvarnabhumi. However, Suvarnabhumi has surprises every few steps. The architecture is different, and you can see Thailand's Indian influences everywhere -- in art, religion, and culture.

Get into the departures area, and the first thing that catches your attention is the giant statue of Vishnu standing over a tortoise -- a serpent (Vasuki) is on either side of the tortoise -- and the gods and the demons pull it from those sides. That explains why this sculpture is called "Churning of the Ocean".

Here are some pictures -- click on them to see a larger view:

Churning of the Ocean -- Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

Churning of the Ocean -- Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

Architecture Details -- Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

For an airport that showcases Indian art, it is surprising to find that there's almost no vegetarian food available at the airport -- Indian food or any other vegetarian food. The flight on Thai Airways from Bangkok to Los Angeles was good -- but when I landed in Los Angeles, I discovered they lost my bag! More about that soon.

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