As the plane descended into Bangkok, it looked deceptively peaceful. If I had not seen the riotous colour of the red & and yellow shirts on CNN, I would have been none the wiser. The rain was lightly falling as we taxied in and I was thankful for small mercies. Bangkok is slightly cooler than Phonm Penh!
The trip to my hotel was also uneventful and devoid of any colour, red – the colour of the protestors, yellow – the colour of those in support of the King, and pink worn by those neutral to the entire conflict. I was safely attired in a blue shirt but it wouldn’t have mattered either way.
I expected to go through lots of check points like I would in Sri Lanka..but there were no young men in uniform waiving their AK47s and requesting my passport! I had spent the last few days mulling over this decision. In the week leading up to my departure from Cambodia, CNN was full of news of the conflict in Bangkok. Of course, it looks far worse when you are sitting in another country watching the one scene played out over and over again on TV.
However, I did a bit of research :) and after weighing up all the information, decided it would be safe to come here! I watched tourists on U Tube, read the Australian DFAT warning (it was Level 4, the max DONT GO is Level 5), talked to my travel agent who contacted my tour company, contacted the reservations manager in Bangkok, spoke at length to my fellow travellers, especially those just off the trail from Bangkok, spoke to my friend at the Australian embassy….and finally made a decision! It was made easier by the fact that New York had a bomb scare and after that I could safely assume there was no conflict in any other part of the world…..that was all CNN covered for 2 days :) !!
I’m glad of a few days of rest and recovery. On my last day I visited to Wat Phonm, the temple on top of the hill and reflected on my time at the orphanage and my month in Phonm Penh.
It is a busy temple, popular with locals and tourists alike. Yet it has an air of tranquillity, set back from the noisy traffic of the city amidst lush green trees now full of blossom. Incense swirls above the Buddha statues, soft music plays in the background and devotees prostrate themselves bearing fruits and flowers to appease the gods! I loved the pretty lamps floating in brass jars and wondered why they spoilt it all by decorating the Buddha statues with neon lighting. After a visit to the National Museum it was time to head home and pack!
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart". ~ Helen Keller