I was prepared not to like Bangkok. I'd heard terrible reports about the filth, the noise, the traffic and the hordes of tacky Australians with dreads. I was surprised, then, to find out what a beautiful city it is. I arrived by plane just before six in the morning. As we lowered down toward the airport, we curved above the city, a sprawling field of skyscrapers and wats sliced through with a curving river, all barely illuminated in the early morning haze.
On the ground, the city is even more amazing. Stepping out of our guesthouse into the sticky air, we walk on cracked tree lined sidewalks crowded with foodstalls. Lush wat complexes cut between concrete apartment blocks, gold spires lifting out of leafy gardens. The streets are noisy, dirty, polluted and amazingly colorful, result of the motorbikes, airbrushed buses, pink taxis and green tuk tuks that swarm them.