Tuesday, November 11, 2008

SE Asia Day 3: Siam Square

After a couple nights in the backpacker central near Khao San Road, I decided to move to a different part of Bangkok.  I wanted to see the newer, modern side so I packed my things and headed toward Siam Square.  I was going to take a water taxi up a canal, but couldn’t find the stop near where I was staying.  So, I grabbed a cab and headed out.

Siam Square is the area where many of the skyscrapers, malls, and trendy restaurants are.  I heard about a placed called the Atlanta Hotel, near Siam Square.  The hotel is known for its retro decor and for policy that “Sex Tourists are not Welcome.”  It sounded like a business I wanted to support since I was going to be in an area where sex tourism is big business at night.

They were a little expensive—about 500 baht per night—but its a good price for the area.  I spent some time hanging at the pool—which was a great way to cool off after my hike there.  I got lost trying to find the entrance to the soi that the Atlanta was on, so I was more than read for a dip when I arrived.  It reminded me of something I saw in the show Mad Men.  This place was definitely designed in the 60s.  DSCF2314

Its quaint that they haven’t really updated the lobby in fifty years but I found a few things off-putting.  They have many policies that can best be described as smug.  I understand their policy against sex tourists.  They explain that they likely assume that Thai people in the company of westerners are prostitutes and that service will be refused.  Okay, fine.  The thing is, these warnings are EVERYWHERE:  in the rooms, in the hallways, in the lobby, on the taxi cards, and on the front door.  Having a sign on the front door is enough.  In addition to that, there were signs explaining that since Atlanta is a budget hotel, they don’t take complaints--only “constructive criticism.”

Now, some of that may be in jest, but the whole impression created is, "You’re one of the fortunate few to get to stay at the Atlanta, and we have relatively low prices, so you have nothing to complain about.”  In addition to their stated policies, the place just wasn’t at clean nor the staff as attentive at either of the backpacker dives I stayed at the previous two nights.  Every time I came to the desk, the attendant seemed put out to have to help me, and once I had to awake the clerk from a nap.

As the evening drew near, I decided to head into Siam Square to have some dinner and catch a movie.  I took the Skytrain.  The Skytrain is an elevated train with a couple lines in downtown Bangkok.  Its fast, and clean, and easy to use.  The closest stop is Phloen Chit (E2).  Its a bit of a hike from the Atlanta, but much cheaper than a cab.


I went to the National Stadium stop and to the MBK Center.  MBK Center is a huge mall.  I grabbed a bite at a really overpriced food court and watched a movie.  Here’s a karaoke booth near the mall.  These were crammed with young Thais waiting for their movies to start.


Below are a few pictures from billboard I saw in the Skytrain station.It’s for Vaseline Healthy White Skin Lightening Lotion!  I guess its the opposite of a self-tanner.  Just as I was surrounded by Thai people and thinking how beautiful their skin complexion is, here is a company telling them that they should be whiter, and that they have the product to do it.



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