There is no shortage of posts on the internets about some westerner’s first day in Bangkok. No shortage of someone writing an opening line like, dam Bangkok is crazy. Or dam Bangkok is a mess. Or, dam, Bangkok is fun! And i find each of these to be valid if you are indeed here as a tourist or on business and you end up in one of the many zones where it seems we outsiders are corralled together in order to be subjected to all manner of proposition. Why on my touristy street, there is even a sock dealer in a shadowing section that you can barely make out in the night, and he’s there all night; dealing socks for all the sock junkies.
You want to hear what I think of Bangkok- but what I must tell you is that anyone that stays in the area I’m in can’t possibly tell you, with any merit, what Bangkok is like. For the most part, what such a person can tell you is what the touristy areas of Bangkok are like. So if you want to know about that, I’ll just say – Ugly yet friendly, desperate yet relaxed. A playground for the outsiders, who include the hotel next door that is populated only by Indian middle class tourists, the hotel down the block that is popular with Sheiks and other middle eastern families of means, and my hotel, the eclectic mix of Europeans, many of which seem to enjoy paying for a young Thai girl or/and boy to accompany them back to the hotel late at night. Just my luck, I’m often on the elevator when they are, uncomfortably wishing them a goodnight as they exit on the 14th floor.
But wait but wait, remember that this is the bullshit area. This is the artificial playpen, where they’ve somehow parked a neverending list of luxurious megamalls that would make any New Jersey based mall look like a quickiemart in comparison.
The highlight of my day one, after wandering the streets all day and doing a bit of educational tourism, was when my great friend who lives in town, who I was introduced to over 4 years ago back in BENELUX, she came to my rescue in the pouring rain.. and delivered us both to a lovely area outside the Royal Palace, on the water, watching the big boats cruise by on the murky water. With a beautiful view of that very famous Thai monument that the whole world would recognize, the wooden establishment was a mini maze of kitchens, dinner tables, Thai young people having a laugh, and stray cats who occasionally jump into your lap during dinner. With a storm coming and going, I was treated to huge bolts of lightening over the river, throughout the meal. It was exactly what I had originally imagined and hoped Thailand would be like, which includes the excellent and super affordable spicy sea food. We sat there eating and discussing all our favorite issues, human trafficing, Thai and Portuguese immigration, language learning, Christiania (yes!), and of course gossip that has been gathering for the last 4 years. She says that on Sunday there’s a big demonstration which I shall (hopefully) attend. And to further illustrate what a great evening it was, I didn’t even bring my camera, because beyond writing about it here, such excellent moments stay burned in my memory, no photo evidence would suffice.