Bangkok: Another Planet

Shiny new Toyota taxi, the sharp scent of artificial granny smith apples clinging to the grease in and around our nostrils, our sweat from waiting outside the arrivals terminal congealing in the air conditioning, neatly stacked rows of anonymous industrial warehouses blur past on both sides of the highway, the city’s modest skyline promising nothing in the distance, we were clearly somewhere else.  Our recent memories of Calcutta fight hard to find any relevance to our new surroundings – this was no longer India.  It took a good day or two to begin to understand Bangkok.  Everything felt incongruous and grotesque at first, beginning with our hotel, a relic from the 1930’s in the middle of high-rises and elevated train networks and alleys pulsing with sex, carnivals of flesh attended by red-nosed men in polo shirts and impossibly small women barking at each other and occasionally turning to the street to deliver well-rehearsed yet soulless propositions.  We spent the first day aimlessly walking from one mall to the next, transfixed, drunk from the blinking lights and iced lattes.  That first night we fought hard against all desires to eat at one of the myriad fast food chains and instead found a parking lot with impeccable stainless steel tables and food vendors frantically frying, chopping, pealing.  The chillies and beer, the smell of cigarettes, the cracking speaker of the television all pierced into our stupor and pulled us out.  Street food in Thailand became a mainstay – simply delicious.  After the food it was the markets that took us over.  Although the corrugated tin roofs of the weekend market radiated in the 35 degree heat we nevertheless became part of the stream of young shoppers sniffing out vintage sneakers and Levis jeans.  By the end of our stay we had come around and accepted Bangkok’s center-less charm.

new flavors at last

gasp

the important thing is that you have to know what you want

elevated worms

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margins

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Wat Pho

Reclining Buddha

Reclining Buddha

they came a long way

Wat Pho

repairing the temple

Wat Pho

Siam Center

and sa-wat-dee to you

have to admit, we found great eats at the Siam mall canteen

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break

tuk tuk

Chatuchak weekend market

Chatuchak weekend market

Chatuchak weekend market

quail eggs

Hualampong station, getting ready to head north

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