I woke up this morning, Sunday morning, thinking that perhaps I’d just take it easy and lie by the pool all day. Perhaps start a new novel. As I was eating my breakfast I had this huge internal argument with myself whether it was wise to waste a day just lying by the pool doing nothing when the whole of Bangkok lay before me. Well, my head won over my heart and I dragged myself out into this infernal heat to once again go exploring.
I just finished a novel last week called “Bangkok” by John Burdett. An area called Khao San Road (pronounced: cow sorn) was mentioned a lot in the book and it was described as quite a bazaar. I decided to go take a look for myself. It really was interesting, and besides it was fun to put a physical place with the book’s descriptions. My guide book describes it as the most international street in the world and a few years ago it was a haven for international students in dreadlocks and backpacks to check out from the world for a few weeks. It still has that air about it; I saw plenty of dreadlocks, backpacks, long hair, unshaven faces, armpits, and legs (and that was just the women). But it was also a place where you could just sit in a café, listen for a language you understood, and inquire about the best bus to the Cambodian border or the best place for Vietnamese/French baguette sandwiches in Hanoi. I found it fascinating.
I came across a little temple that only had one tourist in it: me. Since the people that were in it were there on serious business I respectfully didn’t take any pictures of the Buddha though. I wish that I would have made a note of the name.
On the way back I got off the ferry in Chinatown. The guidebook tried to prepare me for the throngs of people that would be in the streets by saying:
“Don’t bring your Western concept of pavement etiquette. You’re in Asia now, and the rules of personal space—not to mention some of the laws of physics—are completely different. Human traffic in Bangkok acts like flowing water: if there is an empty space, it will quickly be filled with a body, regardless of who was where in some unspoken queue. With an increase of mass (a motorcycle or pushcart), a solid state is achieved and the sea of pedestrians can be pushed out of the way in textbook example of might-makes-right or size matters. Once you master these simple concepts, which are at their most evident in Chinatown, you can enjoy shuffling along with the flow.”
Bullshit. I found it stiffling hot, sweaty, polluted, impossible to move, claustrophobic, and generally unpleasant. The only concept I could consider at the time was lying by that tranquil blue pool.