|Hand-crafted detail at the Grand Palace, Bangkok|
In my admittedly less than humble opinion, a substantial part of traveling is being able to be a tourist; which we all are, unless we've moved to a different country. While being a visitor can have its drawbacks, it also has its good points: we tend to be waited on more than at home, we often get to take things easier than our lives would normally allow, we're gifted with that sense of surprise when first seeing new things, try new foods and we're allowed to have new experiences.
I've been taken to task for writing about tourist spots in Thailand, but it's my fervent hope that I never become so jaded that I can't appreciate those very places on one level or another. If I ever do reach that unfortunate point where I'm not able to enjoy something different than I'd see here in the USA - regardless of how pointless and tacky others might think it is - I hope I have the presence of mind to stop, stay home and not be a bitch about it; i.e. people who find fault with anything they didn't come up with themselves.
|If you'd rather skip the local fare you can eat much the same processed foods available back home. Personally, I'd rather skip a meal than eat with this apostate of hell, but that's just me.|
There are more reasons to visit Thailand than there are fingers and toes on the normal person. Some travel to Thailand for the different cultural experiences available, some for the food, some for the temples, some for the shopping, some to visit the most touristy spots imaginable and some for the ubiquitous plastic chairs and the body part that usually rests upon them. No penalty should be accrued for any of these people, and I am neither judge nor jury. If you go to serve time as a monk or attempt to satiate yourself as a sex tourist it's all the same to me. Go, do the best you can to be a good person overall, and be in peace.
Of course, I'd suggest trying to reach some happy balance in your mix, but it's entirely up to you. After all, it is your holiday. It may be merely a flashback but something Jack Nicholson's character said regarding a cheeseburger in the movie "Last Detail" often comes to mind when thinking of things such as this: "Have it the way you want it, Meadows - you're paying for it."
|Touristy? Absolutely. An interesting place? Of course. Do you see many crocodiles in your area?|
I've been to the Grand Palace more than a few times. My first visit was on my first trip to the Land of Smiles, and all of the others have been accompanying people I know who are there to experience it for the first time themselves. While I don't have the feeling of awe I did when I first wandered through this magnificent display of detailed art, history, faith, respect, craftsmanship, and yes, affection for leaders present and past, I still enjoy each visit, because there's so much to see that bears closer inspection.
|A portion of the old city of Ayutthaya from an early trip, but I've been there since. I still haven't explored all of it.|
So, if you want to take tuk-tuk after tuk-tuk to be paraded through suit stores and jewelry shops, be my guest. If your idea of a holiday is to stay out most nights partying and sleeping through the days, fine. If you're buying furniture to ship home, visiting as many wats as possible, taking cooking classes, stocking up on knock-off items at streetside stalls, or just spending every day under an umbrella on the beach - great.
Give some thought to trying some new things, but just enjoy yourself - and try not to judge others who are of a different mindset than you. It's what makes the world go around, folks.