The best coffee shop in London…..?

The best coffee shop in London…..?

After many trips to America where I found amazing coffee shops, the atmosphere was relaxing, you could sit in them and chill or if you wish, study/work. I longed for this kind of coffee shop in London, as faith would have it, I first came across Absolutely Starving three years ago when working in the area. From the moment I walked in, I saw an amazing range of cakes…..immediately I realised this is my place!

Why do I think it is the best coffee shop in London…..? Firstly the location, besides it being 4 minutes walk from London Bridge underground, it is near Hay’s Galleria, which is a mixed use building in the London Borough of Southwark situated on the south bank of the River Thames featuring offices, restaurants, shops, and flats. Originally a warehouse and associated wharf (Hay’s Wharf) for the port of London, it was redeveloped in the 1980s. It is a Grade II listed structure. This building and surrounding area is a must see!




Secondly, on entering Absolutely Starving, I felt the same amazing and positive vibe as I did in America, also, I quickly forgot about the hustle and bustle of London.

At the counter I was greeted in a very friendly manner, which was a surprise, well this is London where I find a lot of people working in the restaurants and shops very rude, it is like you are causing them an issue by asking them for service!

Absolutely Starving being a family run business with Egyptian blood, I recommend you try their signature dish, the Koshari. This is a vegan Cairo street food, people who are allergic to veganism can add meat! This is sold in a wrap or box. The dish is bursting with flavours and a must try!

Their range of snacks, foods and sandwiches is huge and delicious!

Salad counter:

There is plenty of space available to eat in and people watch.







This is a great place to sit and watch the world go by:

Sometimes you just need cake!

Don’t believe me? Go and see for yourself and let me know…..

Absolutely Starving Website
51 TOOLEY STREET, LONDON.  SE1
T: 020 7407 7417
Mon-Fri 7am-8pm, Sat & Sun 9am-8pm

Wpt Gym…..

Wpt Gym…..

Starting weight: 88.8kg
Target weight: 63kg
Weight recorded on September 7 2013: 87.9

 

The last three days the format has been the same, so instead of three posts looking identical I will do one.

Training starts around 6:30am and lasts for two hours. You go for a run, do your own warm ups and then you will get taught by Master Pimu or do some pad work with Bea.

Master Pimu is fantastic at teaching the technical aspect, the stance, punch, jab, kick etc…if you are here for some time, he does not rush and makes sure you practice every technique until it becomes a habit. Hence the training two times a day. When I was clinching (Clinch fighting (also referred to as clinch work) is the part of stand-up fighting where the combatants are grappling in a clinch, typically using clinch holds. Clinching the opponent can be used to eliminate the opponent's effective usage of some kicks, punches). When my foot hits the ground I was lowering my heal by 1 cm, Master Pimu got another person to hit me each time I did this! Reading that back it sounds like this is a harsh training camp, Master Pimu is a stickler for technique every move has to be precise. If the basics are spot on then you will have a strong foundation.

Master Pimu

Beginning Muay Thai at the age of seven years of age, Pimu was fortunate to be taught by a very distinguished fighter, Lerngsak Sorlupitak, a champion renown for his kicking and kneeing ability. He was also privileged to have trained, for a short time, with one of the greatest MuayThai boxers of all time, Adul Srisothorn the “diamond crown boxer”. This was cut short by Adul’s premature death in a car accident. Adul was a very famous boxer, six times champion famed for his all round boxing ability.With such an excellent pedigree, Pimu himself proved to be a very skilled boxer, having over a hundred fights. However, his ring career was cut short by a serious shoulder injury. After retiring Pimu began training fighters with great success; something he still excels in. He trained his first Champion Tawanok Sitpoonchai thirty years ago and has not stopped since.

The students here at the moment:

 

The Gym

 
 
The gym is about an hour from Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok International Airport,) also about an hour from downtown Bangkok (both times are depending on traffic.)
WPT gym has been designed for westerners as well as Thai champions. The gym employs a number of top coaches from different gyms. Training can accommodate anyone form complete beginners to top professional fighters. A number of top fighters from France, Italy, Japan, Korea, USA, UK and Ireland have trained at the gym with Pimu, Met, Komkrit, Duwao, Manask, Thailand, Sancherng and others. UK Champions who trained at the gym include: Dean James, Liam Robinson, Sheree Halliday, Ronnie Mann (MMA), Karla Hood, Damian Hood, Pete Crooke, Reece Crooke, Frankie Hudders, Johnny Roye and many others. Top coaches training at the gym include:Tony Myers (UK), Pele Nathan (UK), Marco De Cesaris (Italy), Diego Calzolari (Italy) and many others.The gym has strong links with Sinbi Muay Thai gym in Phuket and Pinsinchai camp,Training is available twice a day like all gyms in Thailand. It is possible to negotiate what training you wish to do and the level of training you wish to engage in. At the gym they are equally happy to accommodate those who wish to learn techniques and not train too hard and top fighters who are preparing for a fight. There is a friendly atmosphere at the gym and everyone is made welcome.

Accommodation

Perhaps I should have made my bed before I took this picture!!

 

The rooms are all ensuite, they are maintained and kept clean.
After the morning training session you eat, either you go out to a restaurant or Shum (Master Pimu's wife) will cook. All dietary requirements are catered for.
Nearby restaurant
Mixed vegetables
 
By the time you have eaten it is around 9am, one has the day to sight see or relax.

What is there to do near the gym?

Within about ten minutes walking distance there are a few shops, Tesco Lotus, Seven Eleven. Here you can buy all your basic supplies.

Five minutes in a taxi which should cost around 50 baht or walking which would take about 45 minutes there is Fashion Island a huge mall where you will definitely get everything imaginable.

Fashion Island is a shopping mall located on Ramintra Road, in Khan Na Yao district outskirt of Bangkok, Thailand. Some of the anchors are

Robinson Department Store
BigC
Major Cineplex
Home Pro
SportWorlds

 

Sports shop
Children's play area
Starbucks a great place to unwind and use the wifi (At the time of this post they charged for wifi)
The afternoon training session starts around 4pm (ish) depending on how hot it is. The training mirrors the morning session, again afterwards you will eat.
The evening is yours to either relax or pop to the cinema at Fashion Island.
I usually go to sleep by 9:30pm, as being a forty year old fatty I get tired very easily!

 

Lake Tahoe…..

Lake Tahoe…..

Laundry day is here, so an early morning trip (7am) to Mr Suds, the laundry in South Lake Tahoe.

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Even though we are only traveling for three weeks, it is still best to travel lightly.

Back at the hotel I said to Sangeet we need to figure out where to eat. Sangeet suggested checking happy cow for vegan restaurants, I was surprised to find one:

Simple Bliss Vegan Cafe
2540 Lake Tahoe Blvd. #7
Located in the Swiss Chalet Village
South Lake Tahoe
California
USA
t: +1 530 542 1474
e: [email protected]
Pictures of the restaurant
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Dare you try the chilli sauce?!
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Vegan burger
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Vegan and gluten free French toast
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Negotiating the burger!
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The meals were fantastic. Simple Bliss Cafe is a great vegan restaurant. All the dishes can also be made gluten free.

We will be back to Simple Bliss Cafe….

Afterwards we drove through downtown and stopped at the beach. It was a few minutes walk from the busy end of the beach, here we took some yoga pictures for class posters etc.

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The quiet side of the beach
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Kundalini yoga pose
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The busier side of the beach
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Beautiful clear water
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Walkway next to the beach, here you have access to seating and barbecues
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We then drove to the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe, stopping off at various vista points
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Logan Shoals Vista a fantastic vista point to take photographs. There is parking available and a short walk to the vista point.
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Our roadside snack
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The views of Lake Tahoe seems to be better from the Nevada side, maybe it seems that way as it is very sunny today.
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Driving along with marvellous views of the lake. We also stopped at Memorial Point and took a short walk along the lakeshore.

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Amazing views
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Sangeet made her way to the top of this waterfall, by hanging onto trees!!
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We drove full circle around Lake Tahoe today.

For dinner, back to Bliss Cafe
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The drinks are amazing and worth trying
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On the menu there is more then just the burger, honest!
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Cheesecake, made out of cashew, it was so yummy!!
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Back at the hotel we relaxed in the common area
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Movie time!
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We watched ‘The Blind Side’. The Blind Side is a 2009 American semi-biographical sports drama film. It is written and directed by John Lee Hancock, and based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis. The storyline features Michael Oher, an offensive lineman who plays for the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL. The film follows Oher from his impoverished upbringing, through his years at Wingate Christian School (a fictional representation of Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, Tennessee), his adoption by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, to his position as one of the most highly coveted prospects in college football, then finally becoming a first round pick in the NFL by the Baltimore Ravens .

So wrapped up with technology, at one point I was using the laptop, iPad and iPhone whilst watching the movie!
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I truly recommend watching this movie, a fantastic and heart warming story!

Cafe Kino, Bristol UK…..

Cafe Kino, Bristol UK…..

After spending a couple of days in Taunton, Somerset, we drove to a vegan restaurant in Bristol:

Cafe Kino
108 Stokes Croft,
Bristol,
Avon
T: +44 117 924 9200
W: www.cafe-kino.com

As it was a Saturday we managed to find parking in a side street, please note, there are parking restrictions in force on weekdays.

The area seems to be a very arty side of Bristol, there was some fantastic graffiti on the surrounding buildings.

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On entering Cafe Kino you feel a fantastic vibe, the staff are friendly and have a great knowledge of the ingredients of the dishes.

We both ordered the breakfast. A great selection, ‘sausage,’ ‘bacon,’ beans, fried bread, mushrooms, hash browns and tomato. As Sangeet does not eat gluten the cafe substituted the sausage, hash brown and bread for home made chips and a slice of chickpea base pizza.

My breakfast:

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Sangeet’s breakfast:

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Whilst at the counter I noticed a awesome chocolate cake, so just had to order a slice:

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The breakfast was enjoyed by both of us and we can definitely recommend this restaurant. There are lots of good options (soup, stew, burgers, falafel, salads to name a few…and some tasty desserts). The atmosphere was very relaxed, nice to see people reading and slowing down.

Vegan Festival, Manchester…..

Vegan Festival, Manchester…..

What a fantastic day, we visited the Northern Vegan Festival in Manchester, http://www.northernveganfestival.com/

There were many stalls supporting animal rights and conservation of the environment.

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Now what really attracted me was the free food, unfortunately as we arrived at the venue around 3:30pm most of the free food had disappeared. On entering the hall we found a stall that sold gluten free and vegan cupcakes, they looked delicious so we bought two…….nice to have later with coffee!

Further into the small crowded hall we saw a stall selling bhel puri, bhel puri is a savoury Indian snack, and is also a type of chaat. It is made out of puffed rice, vegetables and a tangy tamarind sauce.
Bhelpuri is often identified with the beaches of Mumbai (Bombay), such as Chowpatty. Bhelpuri is thought to have originated within the Gujarati cafes and street food stalls of Bombay, and the recipe has spread to most parts of India where it has been modified to suit local food availability. The Kolkata variant of Bhelpuri is called Jhaal Muri (meaning “hot puffed rice”). A native Mysore variant of Bhelpuri is known as Churumuri in Bangalore. A dry variant of Bhelpuri popularly known as Bhadang is consumed after garnishing with onions, coriander and lemon juice.

Sangeet had one bhel puri and said it was good. We were both hungry so everything tasted nice!!

There was a very popular Turkish stall which sold vegan Gozleme, Gözleme is a savoury traditional Turkish pastry dish, made of hand-rolled dough that is lightly brushed with butter and eggs, filled with various toppings, sealed, and cooked over a griddle.
The name derives from the Turkish word göz meaning “compartment”, in reference to the pocket of dough in which the various toppings are sealed and cooked. Traditionally, this is done on a saç griddle. stuffing options were Vegan cheese, mushroom, potato or spinach. It looked very popular. I decided to try this later.

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Around the corner was Mistry’s Catering where I purchased mogo, also called Cassava, Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also called manioc, yuca, balinghoy, mogo, mandioca, kamoteng kahoy, and manioc root, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy, tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. It differs from the similarly spelled yucca, an unrelated fruit-bearing shrub in the Asparagaceae family. Cassava, when dried to a starchy, powdery (or pearly) extract is called tapioca, while its fermented, flaky version is named garri. The mogo was fried which is exactly how I like them!

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One of the many stalls:

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There were many other stalls including Lush, Pudology and a vegan clothes stall……I will not be eating my clothes after wearing them!

It was also great to meet David from Dandelion and Burdock, http://www.dandelionandburdockrestaurant.com/_/home.html
(16 Town hall street, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX6 2EA) we have been visiting this excellent vegetarian restaurant for a number of years.

I managed to find a stall which sold fake meats, ‘chicken’ burgers and ‘sausage’ the smell was fantastic, therefore, I decided to sample it a number of times!

Waiting for the next batch of burgers!

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Ready to sample, even before the owner has put the food on the table!

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As we are now going to phase out processed foods I did not buy any burgers.

The venue was small for the number of people and after a while you can really smell the sweat….I am hoping next year the organisers choose a bigger venue!

In the evening we tried the gluten free, vegan cupcakes they were very dry and did not taste quite how we expected….like a real cup cake, I have tasted many gluten free and vegan cupcakes which have tasted amazing, unfortunately for this one I suggest the creators go back into the kitchen and try again!

Walking…..

Walking…..

This morning I had a very informative breakfast…..in the lounge there was only the waitress and myself so we got chatting, I asked her what the Thai’s think of Indian’s. She said “they are very rude and obnoxious people also they are very dirty and leave the area a mess”. Seems like the Indians are not liked! Now it makes sense why taxi drivers did not want to pick us up. She has, in my opinion got a valid point.

Afterwards, it was time to find a laundry. Now in England most businesses are closed on January 1st. For some reason I was expecting it to be open here! I searched for a couple of hours, whilst Sangeet was relaxing at the hotel. I could not find any open, looks like it is back to hand washing the clothes.

Bangkok is not a city I enjoy. In fact I hate this place, I cannot put a finger on why I hate it so much, just has not got a good vibe.

Back at the hotel, Sangeet needed to get some contact lenses. We walked to one of the many malls in Bangkok called MBK, the walk took about an hour. MBK Center, also known as Mahboonkrong, is a large shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand. At eight stories high, the center contains around 2,000 shops, restaurants and service outlets, including the 4-story Tokyu department store.
The MBK Center management reports daily visitor numbers of more than 100,000, half of whom are young Thai people and a third foreign visitors.
The MBK Center is popular with tourists, although the majority of shoppers are Bangkok residents. Knockoff items can be found in abundance at this shopping complex, but prices are much higher than one would expect. Many stores selling authentic merchandise are also available. MBK Center is connected to the Siam Discovery and Siam Paragon shopping mall by elevated walkways, both of which are more upscale and have only authentic goods.

Walking towards the mall
Jan 1, 2013 5:07 PM

Another one of the many malls
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Bangkok sky train
Jan 1, 2013 5:08 PM

Bangkok skywalk
Jan 1, 2013 5:14 PM

Bangkok, always busy
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The skywalk is an elevated footpath or walkway which has been built under the skytrain in the areas where many of the shopping malls are close together. The Skywalk means it is very easy to walk from Central Chidlom to MBK without having to step foot on the regular pavement / sidewalk.

The Bangkok Skywalk doesn’t run the length of the Skytrain system but it is being extended gradually. The skywalk is clean, even and wide which allows for many people to walk between malls without getting jammed up or bumping into each other.

Opening Hours

It might seem strange, but the Bangkok Skywalk has opening hours:

06:00 – 24:00
These times coincide with the times of the BTS Skytrain opening hours. The other reason for an opening and closing time is to stop homeless people using it at night as a place of shelter. In fact, you will see no beggars, homeless people or hawkers on the Skywalk system. It is kept clean of all people except those walking from one place to the next. It is also a very clean area and kept spotless. It’s a sign of what Bangkok can achieve when it wants to.

Bangkok’s streets are not for use by people wishing to walk on them. Legally they are, but the law isn’t really concerned about that and so at any given time the sidewalks are occupied by motorbikes either parked or being driven, hawkers selling anything at all and food stalls / noodle shops.
Bangkok’s streets are a mess. Just take a walk along Silom road or convent road and you will soon realise that it’s faster to walk on the road than to walk on the pavements. It’s also safer.

Don’t Wear High Heels

It’s unlikely you’d wear high heels if shopping, but you’d almost certainly break your ankle if trying to walk on Bangkok’s normal sidewalks in high heels as they are the worst sidewalks of any developed city. There are holes, uneven slabs and any number of obstacles which making walking a trial.

The Skywalk is not the same. It is flat, even and very easy and comfortable to walk on, but the Skywalk doesn’t go everywhere and there might be times when you’ll have to venture onto Bangkok’s regular sidewalks.

Opening hours for skywalk are 06:00 – 00:00
Skywalk signs are clear and in English

How Far Does The Skywalk Go?

At the moment, the main Skywalk area is from Central Chidlom all the way to Siam Paragon. The Skywalk stops at Siam BTS station but you can re-join the Skywalk by walking through Siam Paragon and by going through Siam Center and Siam Discovery. The Skywalk starts again at Siam Center and goes through to MBK and National Stadium BTS station

The Skywalk covers the main shopping section of Bangkok and connects places such as Central Chidlom, Gaysorn Plaza, Amarin Plaza, Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, Intercontinental Hotel, Central World, Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery & MBK

Other sections are being added and most department stores down the Sukhumvit road are being joined to the Skywalk or BTS Stations. However, there could come a time when the skywalk extends all the way down Sukhumvit road and this would be a very good idea.

The Bangkok Skywalk Rises Above The Fumes & The Traffic,. Stretching Off Into The Distance

For some reason, perhaps because of the pollution, heat and humidity, Bangkok just tires us out!

Jan 1, 2013 5:19 PM

Finally arriving at MBK
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Inside MBK
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Sangeet bought the contact lenses, we then went to the fifth floor where Sangeet had dinner at

Big PAPA – MBK
444 Phayathai Rd,
Mah Boon Krong,
5th floor food court,
Bangkok, Thailand
Jan 1, 2013 6:33 PM
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The food is fresh and made in front of you. I was still full from a big breakfast, well people do say eat breakfast like a king!

Fifth Food Avenue has a great variety of kiosks in a spacious setting, with chefs preparing the foods in open kitchens. Options include Arabic, Vietnamese, Hainese, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Italian. There is also a vegetarian section with a good, all-natural, MSG-free menu, called the Tamarind Cafe.

Then there’s the ‘Signature Dessert’ bar, with the most exquisitely presented delicacies. The strawberry pavlova is sensational; two layers of meringue sandwiched with whipped cream, fresh strawberry and kiwi. And so too the trio of vanilla, caramel and dark chocolate creme brulee. This is a good place to have a filling meal in an appetizing environment.

MBK Food Centre on the sixth floor is much cheaper and the food on offer ranges from pre-packaged sushi sets, to deli-style salad and noodle outlets. Here you can either sit down for a quick bite or take home a neatly-wrapped item from the bakery, or something from the fruit or dessert stall. There is a dining area called ‘Kou Asian’ with an interesting menu, which includes vegetarian fare. It differs from Fifth Food Avenue in that it is right in the hustle and bustle of the main shopping area.

Jan 1, 2013 7:05 PM

The mall is outside a sky train station, so we decided to take the sky train back to Wireless Road, where we walked to the hotel.

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McDonalds written in Thai
Jan 1, 2013 7:12 PM

Sky train station entrance
Jan 1, 2013 7:25 PM

Jan 1, 2013 7:23 PM

The sky train
Jan 1, 2013 7:53 PM

Information on Bangkok:

Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand and the most populous city in the country. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep. The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres (605.7 sq mi) in the Chao Phraya River delta in Central Thailand, and has a population of over eight million, or 12.6 percent of the country’s population. Over fourteen million people (22.2 percent) live within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region, making Bangkok an extreme primate city, dwarfing Thailand’s other urban centres in terms of importance.
Bangkok traces its roots to a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century, which eventually grew in size and became the site of two capital cities: Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782. Bangkok was at the heart of Siam’s (as Thailand used to be known) modernization during the later nineteenth century, as the country faced pressures from the West. The city was the centre stage of Thailand’s political struggles throughout the twentieth century, as the country abolished absolute monarchy and underwent numerous coups and uprisings. The city grew rapidly during the 1960s through the 1980s and now exerts a significant impact among Thailand’s politics, economy, education, media and modern society.
The Asian investment boom in the 1980s and 1990s led many multinational corporations to locate their regional headquarters in Bangkok. The city is now a major regional force in finance and business. It is an international hub for transport and health care, and is emerging as a regional centre for the arts, fashion and entertainment. The city’s vibrant street life and cultural landmarks, as well as its notorious red-light districts, have given it an exotic appeal. The historic Grand Palace and Buddhist temples including Wat Arun and Wat Pho stand in contrast with other tourist attractions such as the nightlife scenes of Khaosan Road and Patpong. Bangkok is among the world’s top tourist destinations. It is ranked third after London and Paris in MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index, and has been named “World’s Best City” for three consecutive years by Travel + Leisure magazine.
Bangkok’s rapid growth amidst little urban planning and regulation has resulted in a haphazard cityscape and inadequate infrastructure systems. Limited roads, despite an extensive expressway network, together with substantial private car usage, have resulted in chronic and crippling traffic congestion. This in turn caused severe air pollution in the 1990s. The city has since turned to public transport in an attempt to solve this major problem. Four rapid transit lines are now in operation, with more systems under construction or planned by the national government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

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