All photos taken on May 7, 1982.
No time for a hotel breakfast this morning. It was up, out and on the bus to Kai Tak Airport early. We had a 9:00 AM flight to Bangkok to catch. We said our goodbyes to local tour guide Roxanne and headed for the departure lounge.
Flying time on our Cathay Pacific 747 was 2 hours and 40 minutes. We were famished by the time they served our brunch of fruit cocktail, quiche Lorraine, green peas, grilled tomato and almond tart.
A bit later, we started our decent into Don Mueang International Airport. After clearing Customs and Immigration, we were greeted by our local guide Patriporn (call me P) and exited the airport into what I can only describe as a hot, humid oven. Bangkok at that time of year seemed to fluctuate between 36-38 C (97 and 100 F) with 100% humidity.
Bangkok, officially known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon and colloquially as Krung Thep, is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres (605.7 sq mi) in the Chao Phraya River delta in central Thailand and has an estimated population of 10.539 million as of 2020, 15.3 percent of the country’s population. Over 14 million people (22.2 percent) lived within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region at the 2010 census, making Bangkok an extreme primate city, dwarfing Thailand’s other urban centres in both size and importance to the national economy.
Bangkok traces its roots to a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century, which eventually grew and became the site of two capital cities, Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782. Bangkok was at the heart of the modernization of Siam, later renamed Thailand, during the late-19th century, as the country faced pressures from the West. The city was at the centre of Thailand’s political struggles throughout the 20th century, as the country abolished absolute monarchy, adopted constitutional rule, and underwent numerous coups and several uprisings. The city, incorporated as a special administrative area under the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration in 1972, grew rapidly during the 1960s through the 1980s and now exerts a significant impact on Thailand’s politics, economy, education, media and modern society.
We boarded our coach for the short 20 minute bus ride to the Dusit Thani Hotel on Rama IV Road.
As we got off the bus, we were greeted with beautiful garlands of local flowers. A beetle dropped out of a garland as it was placed on one member of our group. Ever helpful, Rudy secretly stepped on the beetle to hide the evidence. After that, we all checked our garlands for unintentional hitchhikers.
After getting settled into our room, we ventured outside for a bit of exploration. As we passed the hotel staff and some of the local residents, we were greeted with a gesture of hands together, palm to palm just below their face and the words Sawa dee. We did not catch on to what was happening until later, when P explained it was the Thai greeting for Hello.
Our tour included dinner and traditional Thai entertainment in the Sukhothai Room of our hotel. This is likely where we developed our love of Thai cuisine. Dinner included clear soup, beef curry, chicken curry, vegetables and fruit with a Bangkok Blessing drink.
The dining tables surrounded an open space and throughout the meal, we were entertained by musicians and dancers. Thai music can be a bit of an acquired taste, but we all marvelled at the beautiful costumes and and hand gestures of the dancers.
Off to be early, as tours ran morning and evening to avoid the mid day heat.