Bangkok is a big, smelly Asian city and I love it. And instantly I have to qualify that - I always stay around Khao San Road, which is the backpacker enclave. The streets are heaving with young people, in young-people clothes. Tuk tuks hoot as they weave through the crowds. Stalls spill their wares into the streets. Street-food friers hiss from the hot oil. Massage chairs line the street behind them. Women in 'traditional dress' stroll up and down, trying to sell wooden tree-frogs. Restaurants and bars squash tables as close together as they dare; in the evenings young Thai women exposing too much skin stand outside to entice punters in with promises of two beers for the price of one (I suspect those who accept take more notice of the flesh on offer than the beer).
This picture was taken in a tiny passageway, stalls crammed each side, goods so tightly packed that you wonder how anyone could linger to select the one little image he or she must have to take home.
And yet, on the corner, is a small temple. Incense wafts around the entrance and stings my eyes. But inside - just a step away from the mayhem outside - is a quiet space where people come to pray and meditate. The contrast couldn't be greater. But it's a rejuvenating respite from Bangkok's pandemonium.
It's not all tourism. I did manage to get lost in a local market or two. Even there goods are crammed - and here is a picture of a trolley heaped with vegetables - pushed by one man with apparently little effort. (I'll remember that, next time I push a baby buggy up a slope!)
I didn't have long in Bangkok, so there was just one 'tourist visit' - to the Palace. It's sumptuous and extravagant - all glitter and gold - and here are a few pictures as a taster.
That night, back on Khao San Road, I wandered about after supper. Music blared from the bars and people jigged along the street. Most of the massage chairs are full as tourists bare their toes for the masseurs. Pink and orange lanterns swing high above the bars. The tuks tuks have almost given up trying to get through.
Across the street, outside the temple, a group of rough sleepers settle away from the glare of the lights and the music. To one side a small boy sits alone, his hands out and a pot in front of him. I slip into a corner to watch him. A few passersby drop baht in his pot. After about ten minutes a woman arrives and they greet each other with unmistakable affection. She checks his pot, puts an arm round his shoulder and they settle down together.
But what if ... this is Bangkok. Not everyone is here for the pandemonium of Khao San Road. Men come to this city for the children. This time this little boy was safe. But the next night ... and the next ..?