The region of smiles

Our last day in Bangkok may not have been particularly unique, but was a good way to finish up a memorable trip. A spot of market shopping, a wander around megamall central in Siam, a few rides on the Skytrain, just as many arguments with tuk tuk drivers, a phad thai, a Singha beer and an overdue haircut for Paul. And plenty of tears at the airport.

Compare, compare, compare – that’s what I did in Southeast Asia. I compared the food, the economies, the attitude of tuk-tuk drivers, the amount of dogs on the street, and the earrings on offer at markets. I compared the temples with the rest of Asia – “ooh, that’s got to be a Chinese one”, “that looks more Thai than Vietnamese” and “surely that’s Hindi not Buddhist”. But most of all you can’t help but compare the whole region to the luxuries you take for granted at home.

But with bad also comes good – if the children selling books and bracelets at Angkor go on to oust the Cambodian People’s Party, the country’s in very good hands. Cambodians speak better English than most of Europe, pretty much all of Japan, and hey, even plenty of Aussies, and that can’t count for nothing.

Thailand may be called ‘the Land of Smiles’ but that’s like saying that one of your children is cuter than the other. Vietnam’s are more cheeky, Cambodia’s are a little shy, Singapore’s are confident and Malaysia’s are just like the country – a mixture of them all.

6 Responses to The region of smiles

  1. Dean Rizzetti February 12, 2009 at 5:39 AM #

    Another lovely series of blog posts Caitlyn. It’s the one plus of you going away!

  2. Paul (tje) February 12, 2009 at 11:03 AM #

    Yes we compared a lot in South East Asia. But how can we compare the metropolitan traffic of Bangkok with the crazy motorbikes in Hanoi? Both unique in their own way.

    How can we compare the beautiful nature of Halong Bay with the beautiful temples of Angkor. Both had a bit of a feeling of mass-tourism sometimes, but yet still had the feeling that we where they only ones there.

    Can we compare the city of Phnom Penh, with his poor people history with the Singapore, one of the economical tigers of Asia? Both Capitals, only 1,5 hours flight away but completely different worlds.

    Trying to compare Melaka with KL could be easier, since they’re both Malaysian. But the where the ‘real’ history in Melaka was symbolized by more and more ‘fake’ stuff, KL ‘s Petronas Towers are the most ‘real’ skyscrapers I’ve ever seen.

    Maybe we should compare the beautiful Island of Ko Phi Phi with the beautiful city of Chiang Mai. But even though they’re both Thai, the people are so different and friendly in their own way.

    Bangkok, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Singapore, Melaka, Kuala Lumpur, Ko Phi Phi and Chiang Mai. Ten completely different places and that’s, if we absolutely have to, the only mark I can give this trip: a 10.

  3. travelandtrips March 10, 2009 at 2:18 PM #

    Nice blog..
    ☆ Martinha ☆

  4. shobe July 8, 2009 at 12:48 PM #

    That was great!:) really? you compare with the other Asians? I thought Philippines was called the land of smiles:D as I checked at, it has pictures of Philippine people so happy in front of the cam even though a disaster happened. hahaha!

    Baraaza though is a great travel guide. You can learn a lot from that site 😉 you can also put a blog and share your videos and pictures. People will really appreciate your post. I love your blog writing style 😀

  5. Cancun Mexico August 10, 2009 at 10:04 PM #

    Hey. Bangkok Certainly it is a very interesting city. I saw many strange things to my culture. Of course, someone from Latin America, who has borned in Cancun,Mexico the world asiatic surprising.


  1. Asia-bound - February 14, 2013

    […] loved Bangkok, and Southeast Asia in general, on our 2009 trip. We’re changing things up a bit this time; we’ll be meeting my family and staying in […]

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