Big City Tales

Crazy for Colour and Culture in Bangkok

March 13, 2013
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The colour and culture of Bangkok delights the senses.

For a city over-run with concrete, cars, and critters, Bangkok’s saving grace is its colourful architecture and vibrant culture.

Even the cars and city transit vehicles are part of the viewing enjoyment!

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A colourful cascade of cars and motorcycles adds to the ‘charm’ of a typical Bangkok traffic jam!

A Kaleidoscope of Street Markets

On those days when things just aren’t moving, Bangkok’s ubiquitous street markets and cultural districts are a good place to pass the time away…don’t blow a gasket, pick up a basket and shop to your heart’s content.

The open-air stalls in SamPheng Market showcase traditional Thai gifts and cuisine in all their colourful and fragrant splendor.

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For the Saturday/Sunday crowds, the Chatuchak Weekend Market is the shopper’s paradise of choice.  You’ll need your best pair of walking shoes to make it through the 8,000 stalls spread over 35-acres of land, so come prepared to pound some serious pavement while you explore for bargains.

A Rainbow of Cultural/Cosmopolitan Districts

Thai history is front and centre in Rattanakoskin Island where the ornate Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Temple of Dawn are found. Enjoy a stroll along the river and canal ways while soaking up the essence of what this area has to offer.

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Can’t find what you’re looking for on the streets in Bangkok? Check out businesses operating on the water!

In the business district along Si Lom Road, the modern patterns of suits, ties, dresses and skirts worn by Bangkok’s corporate set compete with the elaborate designs and colour scheme of the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple. Dedicated to the Hindu goddess, Mariamman, the temple is an important landmark for the city’s Tamil population.

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The Sri Maha Mariamman Temple along Si Lom Road.

Meanwhile, on the Feng-Shui friendly Yaowarat Road, Bangkok’s Chinatown district bustles by day and dazzles by night. For over a century businesses have thrived in the heart of one of the city’s oldest areas, making it a popular spot to set up shop.

Rest assured, Bangkok’s congested streets are not for everyone but for those who can look past the craziness and see the (colourful) ‘forest for the trees’ the city is an ideal destination.

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One Golden Memory After Another

March 5, 2013
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An early morning fog blankets the expanse of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

The City by the Bay

For a city known more for its fog than clear blue skies, it may come as a surprise that San Francisco ranks amongst the most popular tourist destinations in ‘sunny’ California, and the world for that matter!

Indeed, despite being tagged with ‘Fog City’ as one of its nicknames, there are plenty of other aspects about San Francisco that keep people coming in droves to experience the city’s charm. And, like me, wanting to come back to experience one golden memory after another all over again…

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The City by the Bay basks in the glow of evening light.

Take a Ride on the ‘Wild’ Cable Car Side

San Francisco’s cable car system has the distinction of being a national historic landmark that is still operational. The three lines that run intersect with the city’s other mass transit options and are adjacent to neighbourhoods such as Fisherman’s Wharf, Nob Hill and Union Square. Propelled by cables underneath the city streets, the cars chug along at a whopping nine miles per hour, making for a very different kind of ‘wild’ ride!

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Nearly 10 million people ride San Francisco’s historic cable car system every year.

Wind Your Way Down Lombard Street

If a series of hairpin turns on a steep one-block stretch of road is your idea of a fun driving experience, Lombard Street is calling your name.

Designed by city planners to make the road more navigable for cars through the Russian Hill district, Lombard is one of the world’s most crooked streets and is also noted for being paved in red bricks and elaborately landscaped.

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The long and winding road of Lombard Street.

While the Day Away at Fisherman’s Wharf

Eat your fill of fresh seafood, frolic with the seal lions, hop on a cable car or board an old-fashioned ship…so much to cram into a day at the wharf! And don’t forget about the bounty that lies offshore in the bay. Alcatraz Prison and Angel Island are just a short boat ride away, offering some of the most panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline.

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So many fun memories waiting to be created at Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco.

Take a Ghost Tour at Night in Chinatown

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest and largest in North America, and is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Amble through the streets and alleys, sample delectable delights, or find the perfect Chinese herb to cure what ails you. Meanwhile, keep a lookout for the spirits that are known to haunt the area at night – Boo!

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San Francisco’s charming Chinatown district is festive by day, frightful by night!

Where the Golden Sun Shines for Everyone

As Tony Bennett crooned in the closing lines of his classic 1962 hit song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” there is a lot to love about this city and “coming home” is all the more sweeter when greeted with a golden sun.  True, the sun may not shine as much as some would like, but when it does it there’s no denying the magic it casts across the glorious city by the bay!

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“When I come home to you, San Francisco, your golden sun will shine for me.”