Fortunately I got to spend seven, but even so, it was only a scratch on the surface.
It was, however, enough to dispel many of the prejudices and misconceptions I had about Bangkok and Thailand. Like many others, who actually never had visited Thailand, I thought the country would be much more underdeveloped and plagued by dubious tourist attractions – and of course by tons of tourists.
Without going into a discussion about my shameful prejudices (yes, I'm aware of them and working on getting rid of them), one can easily say that of course there are lot of tourists everywhere in Bangkok and there's nothing wrong with that.
Tourism is by far the largest component of the Thai economy, but interestingly enough the Thai people aren't fed up on tourists. On the contrary, most Thai people working in the tourism and service industries are incredibly nice, helpful, and polite towards foreigners. The same can hardly be said about all foreigners who arrive here with arrogant and superior mindsets.
The kind and warm attitudes of everybody I met seemed, at least to me, very genuine and I noticed that it had a strange but pleasant calming effect on foreigners as well. Or rather – let's be honest here – it had a calming effect on me.
What comes to the prejudice about underdevelopment, I suppose that originates with the fact that Thailand has endured countless military coups during the past fifty years. Even the current regime is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy only in theory. In practice the shots are being called by a military junta. Because of this, I automatically assumed that a lot of things, like infrastructure and public services, would be in terrible shape. I couldn't have been more wrong.
In fact, most things in Bangkok work very well at least in comparison with Finland. Some things work even better, such as the metro and train systems, whereas in Finland construction of a simple short extension of the existing metro system seems to be an overwhelming task.
All in all I'm really happy we decided to spend a week in Bangkok instead of just heading straight towards our main destination in Thailand. I saw a lot of interesting and surprising things just by walking around in the streets – and needless to say that a lot still remains to be discovered and experienced when I come here the next time. You can get a glimpse of the Bangkok street life from the gallery below.