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  Bangkok (Thailand)

  It's worth putting up with the traffic jams, pollution, annual floods and sticky weather to experience one of Asia's most exciting cities. Bangkok has dominated Thailand's urban hierarchy, as well as its political, commercial and cultural life, since the late 18th century. Although the late 20th-century boom(迅速发展)is over - you can still shop in air-conditioned comfort in Western-style malls(设在郊区的大规模购物中心)。

  Bangkok proper seethes(沸腾,热闹)on the east side of the Chao Phraya River. The city is reportedly sinking at a rate of 90cm (36in) every year, but there's too much happening in this vibrant city for anyone to get that sinking feeling for too long.

  Metropolitan Bangkok covers 1569 sq km (612 sq mi) of southern Thailand, sitting in the middle of the most fertile rice-producing delta in the world. A network of natural and artificial canals crisscross(纵横交错地分布于) the city, feeding to and from Thailand's hydrological lifeline - the broad Chao Phraya River - which snakes through the city providing transport for passengers and cargo.

  Bangkok is divided in two by the main north-south train line. Old Bangkok, where a large proportion of the city's temples and palaces and its Chinese and Indian districts are found, lies between the river and the railway. East of the railway, comprising the main business, tourist and sprawling residential districts, is 'new' Bangkok. Of course, outside of these general classifications, Bangkok sprawls in all directions with a mixture of commercial, industrial and residential areas.

  Jim Thompson's House, the former abode (此指住处) of mystery man and silk entrepreneur Jim Thompson is a great spot to visit for authentic Thai residential architecture and South-East Asian art. Thompson was a New York architect who served as a spy in Thailand during WWII. After setting up house in Bangkok, he gradually built up worldwide clientele(顾客)for a craft that may otherwise have died out. Each wall of Thompson's house has its exterior side facing the building's interior, exposing the wall's bracing(支撑)system to residents and guests.

  Bangkok is a cultural melting pot and there's no better evidence of this than Pahurat, on the edge of Chinatown. A wide variety of Indian goods are available in this small area, ranging from an astonishing array of silks to Thai shoulder bags. The choice is amazing, the haggling is fierce and the bargains can be unbelievable - if you're good enough, that is. Head down little alleys into the 'bowels' of this area and you'll find foodstuffs, household items and a thriving culture that might ordinarily pass by unnoticed. Pahurat lies west of Chinatown towards the river.


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