Today was the day that I finally began to understand Bangkok. This is not a tourist's city. Nay, this is not a place to come and stay and explore the various attractions. Let all know that this is a living city. I harken this to Toronto, proud capital of Ontario. (O.K. maybe I shouldn't read Lord of the Rings before I start writing these. I'll try to break from that now.)
Bangkok – It is a lot like Toronto in that it's pretty huge, with neighbour hoods separated by vast distances from one another, with nothing but sprawl in between. There's the stuff over by the mall, where people go to hang out, and free shows happen in the park, and locals get to have dance battles – because, hey, why not? And then there's the more touristy section with the temples, and the palace, and all that – but even still, aside from KSR there's a lot of local life.
As I've said before all the pink-skins stay in that area, and hardly venture from it. And why should they? It has loud music, alcohol, and all the cheap t-shirts, dvds, and other gidgets that they could ever want. And that's what this city it. It's one small party of farang, and then an open sprawl for the seven million locals to make their daily life.
For hours I did nothing but watch DVDs and upload movies. Seriously – I need to not fall behind in this again. When I'm in Peru I will be very conscious of every video I take, realizing that I'll have to spend terrible terrible time uploading them all again. But there it is – I uploaded almost all of my African videos, except for the ones from Vic Falls. There will be time enough for that later, I'm sure.
I watched Apocolypto, which I thought was pretty delightful. I think it's important that people understand that a lot of these cultures were not all delightful, and happy, and living peacefully with the earth painting, of course, with the colours of the wind – changing only when the Europeans came, bringing death and destruction with them. The only thing I found a little strange about the movie was the little plague girl who could see the future. But, never mind that.
And since I was in a closed captioned kind of mood, I also watched Jet Li's Hero – which was a lovely Chinese myth. The girl watching it with me who kept saying “that's not believable, how could that happen?” clearly didn't understand the concept of myth (nor the fact that what was happening on screen was supposed to be imagined, and not actually happening in the world that the movie laid out either.) Good times.
But then as five o'clock drew near, I got a hankering to try just about everything that was being sold on the streets that I could get my hands on. I set forth on a great quest of eating. Sticks with strange balls of meat-like substance? For balls for five baht? Sign me up for three – then, of course, a return to my most beloved noodle lady (I've had a few places lately, and the one just outside the hostel doors is the best – which fills me with great joy. And you get the free drink too!) for thirty bhat, on KSR I grabbed some mango on rice for 25 (tossed the rice, thank you very much), and then ate some shanghai noodles and a spring role for 35. I also downed another slushie, and a Thai cake. Curse you asian cakes! Why must you hate sweet things so, yet make your pastry look as if it will be most delicious?!
If, tomorrow, my stomach isn't trying to forcibly eject itself through my bowels, then I will know that I am safe to eat in Thailand. This was an all or nothing quest, you see – and probably a foolish time to embark upon it, as I fly to Cambodia tomorrow. But, never mind that. What's done is done. Only one thing did I pass up: the squid on a stick. No thank you, but last time I was in Japan I already ate me a whole squid, and I need not repeat that process.
And this one was far larger. Yes for 25 bhat, you could have your very own six inch by two inch squid on a stick, coal roasted, all for the eating. Thanks, but no thank you sir. I already experimented with the wanton wrapped eggs on sticks. I have no idea what type of eggs they were, as they were teeny tiny and not chicken sized – lest I've become so warped in perception by my North American chicken eggs gen-ginered for my pleasure, that I have no concept of what these things look like in real life.
Strawberries were always the size of apples, right?
On my way back to the hostel, stomach full and happy – or less happy than it would have been, had I'd stopped at meal two, or even three – I turned off to a well lit Wat (temple) and sat to do some reading. And that's when I finally felt at home in this city. I had made certain spots my own, I had certain routines that I followed, and I knew where I should go for what purpose.
And, of course, I'm now about to leave it.
If I had a social network here, friends to hang at the MBK centre with, or people to go out for drinks with, or to explore the restaurants that I'd like to eat in, but would have no idea how to order at, I could comfortably live here for quite some time. So, no, Bangkok's not a tourist city. But it's one I've grown quite fond of.
It makes me miss Dresden a little. But here? A tad bit more affordable.