Woody Packard

Words + Pictures

Bankok Notes

A seven-day, mid-winter trip to Bangkok, Thailand.

Tom, At His Friend's Restaurant
Some of This is True ~ 2015-02-01

On our first morning in Bangkok Judy and I walked to Wat Hua Lumphong, the nearby temple I had seen the night before when I was out looking for food. As we entered the gate, we were greeted by a man who offered to show us around the temple. He shook our hands, told us his name was Tom, and importantly, since we had just put our wary feet on the ground here, that he was not looking for money. Tom is what I will just call a fixer, someone who connects people, usually tourists like us, to local people who are selling goods or services. For this, he gets a small tick of money for each prospect he brings in.   more...


Tuk Tuks and Drivers, Outside the Royal Boss
My Three Shirts ~ 2015-02-03

On Monday, our second morning in Bangkok I set out from our hotel to find a watch battery, armed with instructions and something called a walking map. Although it says walking map right on the front, and it shows the Mandarin Hotel, my departure point, and the MBK Center, where I was assured there were watch batteries, there is little detail in between to help you know if the destination is in front of you or behind. What the walking map does do well though is, acting as a small flag, alert locals to the fact that you are a lost tourist. And so, as I checked my map, a pleasant man came across the street and asked in very good English, "Can I help you?"   more...


Thailand's King ~ 2015-02-06

I've never been to a country with a king, and I've never had any experience with a place where the country's leader is revered by the entire population. But here, in Thailand, it seems that their king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, is also very well loved. I don't say this just because the king's portrait is hung in so many places, both public and private, throughout every part of the country I visited—admittedly, a small part of Bangkok and the towns that my various tour buses and boats travelled through. Nor because his portrait is on currency of every denomination. I say it because at framing shops you can buy his portrait, or one of he and his wife, to hang in your own home in a way that framing shops in the United States sell framed pictures of the Grand Canyon or New York City.   more...


Side Street, New Paint
Walking Bangkok ~ 2015-02-07

Despite several false starts and a couple of detours caused by over-friendly natives, I reached escape velocity on Monday afternoon, able to get through the wall of tuk tuks, taxi drivers, and tour operators who marked the perimeter of our hotel. My goal was to see some of Bangkok in the best way I know how, which is to walk its streets.   more...