Bangkok was everything I'd heard... hot, dirty, smelly, congested, smog-filled, seedy, and wonderful. It was also different from what I'd expected. I was shocked at how Westernized it has become. Grabbing a quick bite in a mall food court, it struck me as I ate my Subway that as I looked around, I could only see Starbucks, Auntie Anne's, Krispy Kreme, and McDonalds from where I was sitting. It didn't feel like Bangkok, I could've been back in Connecticut.

I was not prepared for the poverty that surrounded the glamour of the downtown area. People with missing limbs crawled face down on the filthy sidewalks, begging for money. I looked into the empty eye sockets of a begger man, taking a few moments to register what I'd just seen. Tiny children sat alone begging in the dirty streets at night.

Emaciated cats and dirty dogs were everywhere. And so were sex tourists out on "dates" with their beautiful hired companions.

This shot is from the mall complex near my hotel. I cannot believe the size of the malls! The green covered bridge is part of a skywalk system that allows pedestrians to walk above street level and connect to the malls and skytrain without having to deal with traffic. It's really convenient and it feels a bit cleaner up there out of direct range of all that exhaust. Of course, it's really just an illusion because there's so much smog, you can't even see the sun, but it's a cool and well designed system.

I'm leaving Patong tonight and it's not a moment too soon! I guess I'm just not into beaches and tourist traps. I'll write more about Patong and Bangkok, but right now, I have to pack for Chiang Mai!

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