In order to understand Bangkok you must first smell it. Secondly you must listen, and how could you not, it is cacophony. Looking at photos just won’t do, nor will reading about it. You must smell it and hear it. It is heady scent of diesel, sewage, incense, frying fish, frangipani & cigarette smoke. The soundtrack is horns, whistles, the whine the combustion engines & howling cats all set to to thumping beat of American pop music. Now if that sounds like an indictment it really isn’t. It’s just, well, Bangkok.
Because Bangkok is my first stop in SEA, I’m probably a little sensitive to all the sensory input. Currently I am sitting in my guesthouse’s sweet little courtyard & it’s almost peaceful.
The past few days have been a flurry of activity as I have tried to see some sights & do a few errands before heading up to Chiang Mai. First on my agenda was getting vaccinated against Japanese Encephalitis Virus, Typhoid & Cholera. I made my appt at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases & despite having to take a water taxi, tuk tuk & sky train to get there, it went off without a hitch. The clinic was clean & more efficient than any clinic in the west. The nurses all wore starched white uniforms complete with large nurses caps and polished white shoes. I must say that I was surprised that I found comfort in those uniforms. I got all 3 vaccines for the bargain price of 53 USD. The same trio at my local travel clinic would have been well over 500 USD. You can get a price list & map to the clinic here
Despite being taken on a wild goose chase by one tuk tuk driver, securing transport has been easy & cheap. (He decided that I really didn’t want to go to the train station to buy a ticket.Where I wanted to go was to a travel agent & tailor. I chalked up the travel agent to miscommunication but when we arrived at the tailor I knew he thought I was a rube. One sharply raised eyebrow & a stern “mai” got me to the train station post haste).
It has been really hot, so hot even the locals are complaining. It’s the kind of heat that saps my energy & appetite. I have been subsisting on fresh orange juice & fresh fruit. There are little carts that vendors push around loaded with pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, mango & papaya. For about a buck I can load up on assortment of fruit, all cut up & served with a skewer so you don’t get your hands all sticky. Pure Genius.
Today I visited the Dusit Palace. “Dusit Palace is the name of the compound of Royal residences constructed in European style and built between 1897 and 1901. These were originally called Dusit Garden by King Rama V and later Dusit Palace by King Rama V1” (from wikipedia) I was in the neighborhood running another errand & I thought, what the hell. It just pissed me off. First, I was told I was not dressed appropriately. Now, I am not known to wear shorts or tank tops, so this came as quite a shock. I had on capris, well past my knee & a LONG SLEEVED shirt. Apparently women cannot enter wearing pants! I had to BUY a bloody sarong. So, I get in & it’s very beautiful. A little over the top, but beautiful. (chandeliers covered in iridescent beetle wings, solid gold boats, in fact, solid gold EVERYTHING) Now, I have been to Europe & seen all the rococo, louis-the-hooey crap I need for one lifetime, but hey it’s museum, right? it’s supposed to be filled with grandeur. But then I look at when all this stuff was commissioned…. 2006. Seriously? 2006? Now, far be it from me to violate Léste Majesté and get my ass thrown in jail, but it seems that a country with such poverty, pollution & poor infrastructure could have something better to spend it’s resources on than gold baubles. Just sayin’.