This has been my third holiday season in Bangkok, yet I'm still absolutely baffled by everything that the city has to offer.
First of all, I get a big kick out of seeing all the Christmas trees and decorations in a country that has a state-sponsored Buddhist religion; it is truly capitalism at its finest.
Let it snow
I find it hilarious to listen to the same winter tunes we're accustomed to in the US, and thoroughly enjoy seeing everyone bundled up in gloves and scarves when it's a frigid 25 degrees Celsius outside (77 F). Honestly, the fact that the weather outside is NOT frightful makes me feel so delightful...
In any event, last year I escaped the city for the relative tranquility of Hua Hin for Christmas, but this year I decided to stick it out and Deck the Bangkok. I must say, being around the city during this time of year highlights the ludicrous number of shopping malls. I won't lie and say I didn't use Christmas Eve as an excuse to join all the other foreigners in the city partying around Sukhumvit (what's Christmas without a little party), but what has blown me away the most is the sheer volume of people and stores getting into the holiday spirit. Say hello to the Siam shopping district and its multitude of sales and people, people, people.
Boxing day blues
I made the mistake of promising my fiancé we would go shopping the day after Christmas (Boxing Day for non-Americans I believe?) in and around Siam Square. Woah. I have been places with a lot of fellow human beings... London in the height of summer, the Olympics in Atlanta, Paris in spring (say no more)... none of these hold a candle to the thousands upon thousands of people spread around Bangkok's Ratchaprasong shopping district the day after Christmas.
It absolutely baffles me that all of those thousands of stores can be so teeming with shoppers (myself unfortunately included). I keep asking, what could Bangkok possibly need with ANOTHER shopping mall (hello Central Embassy)... well, now I have my answer. The multitudes have spoken.
That said, if you can manage the crowds, Bangkok's downtown is truly a spectacle to behold during the holidays. The decorations at the malls and areas in-between, especially Siam Paragon and Central World, rival and surpass decorations I've seen in New York and Los Angeles. The beer gardens set up outside Central World are dazzling (even if the que to get in spans eighteen years apiece).
Most impressive to me, though, was the skywalk connecting Central World to the Chidlom BTS station; the themed light areas specially designed for the selfie narcissist in all of us is beautiful, and the view of what can only be called an army of Snoopy characters outside of Central World is... well, impressive. I'm quite surprised the city's power grid can handle all the lights, honestly, but the result is spectacular.
It's not like I haven't seen this kind of stuff before, in or outside Thailand. Still, the fact that I'm in a non-Christian country in the tropics makes Bangkok during the holidays quite a sight to see.
And best of all, since Bangkok has the odd tradition of being a ghost town as the New Year comes around, if you stick around long enough, you have the city and its decorations to yourself!
Me, I'm a glutton for punishment. I'm off to fight the traffic to go to the beach.
Happy New Year, fellow ajarn.com readers!
I hope you enjoyed my blog. If you would like to get in touch or perhaps e-mail me with a question, I would love to hear from you - All the best, Sam Thompson.