Day 2 with Heat Rash from Hell and sans Baggage
Trip Start Jan 31, 2008
32Trip End May 31, 2008
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This is starting to get inconvenient. It is putting a wee damper on my enthusiasm though I still have random urges to squeal with joy and do a jig in the middle of the road. I am so happy to be here. Tomorrow is the last day I will be able to remain calm about my bags because I have booked a train out of here on Tuesday to go north where it is not polluted, much cooler and where no one speaks english. I am going to trek in the rainforest, bamboo raft down a river, pet and snuggle tigers, ride on elephants, sleep in hilltribe villages, eat with the locals and hopefully not have to do all this with only two sets of clothes. And not very good sets at that.
Bangkok has 12 million people. 12 MILLION. And though I dont know how large it is, it is certainly smaller than Toronto at 3 or 4 million. No wonder when I rode in the back of a tuk tuk ....small three wheel bike-cum-wagon thing... going a hundred miles an hour up and down speed bumps trying to hold in my lunch, I felt like I was swallowing a ton of diesel fluid. Eww. Many people here sit on the sidewalks selling various things - fruit, veggies, strange red liquid concoctions in clear plastic baggies - with masks over their mouths. That has got to tell you something.
Walking down the street I was marveling, albeit somewhat ironically, that the second I walked passed something delicious and went to inhale again, I was immediately assaulted by the strong smell of something just as equally disgusting. This, my friends, is disturbing. I dont know what it is that smells so bad and seems to be near the food vendors but it certainly makes me wary.
Speaking of food, I have yet to be brave enough to face the foreign whatchamahooey on a stick-in a bag-just handed to you mano a mano. The fresh fruit in a baggie is very tempting but considering that is a possible way of contracting hepatitis I will stay away.
Just as I suspected, I am not culturally shocked and though I am tired, I have been forcing the jetlag to Back the Fuck Off - excuse my french - because I have better things to do with my time than sleep. Like clothes shopping. I am an involuntary shopper people. I am shopping for clothes against my will but if I have to wear those heat rash inducing sweatpants one more day, I might just lose it. It has taken me TWO days and countless hours to find anything that even slightly fits me. And I ended up with green yoga-ish pants and a really cute shirt that I thought would fit but is still a bit too small. So in the end, I am sitting here writing to you feeling and certainly looking like a stuffed sausage. That makes me cranky. I am not, by any means, a fat person. But walking into store after store looking for a pair of underwear and having sales person after sales person look me up and down, squint, wince and say For you.....hmmm....BIG size! Not only do I have to deal with that but then I have to deal with the fact that even their ENORMOUS size does not fit my elephantine - if you google elephantine it comes up with jumbo jet as an example...this made me laugh hysterically - Canadian ass.
You do not even want to imagine the effort it takes to fold yourself into a pair of underwear that just. does not. fit. properly. Nor can you imagine the discomfort but you can only turn one pair of underwear inside out so many times before it just REALLY isnt clean anymore. And thus, they are now hanging from my bed in my desperate attempt to have them dry over night after cleaning them in the shower. Dry over night in this humidity.... not likely.
....too much information...
However, all this shopping has opened up a very interesting part of Bangkok to me. The rich people vs poor people. I consider myself the latter, especially seeing as I need to financially sustain myself without work for the next however many months but because of my North American background, it is assumed that I am the former. Which means that when I asked where to go shopping to someone on the street, they pointed me to this giant shopping center full of brand name designer clothes. A pair of shorts was around four hundred dollars. No thanks. And it took me about 20 mins to figure that out, math is not my friend.
Nearby there was another sort of shopping, it was the labrynth maze from hell sort of shopping. I cant even really begin to describe how it is set up but its very fun. Hard to navigate and I think I went up and down the same hall a thousand times but if I had been interested in buying clothes, it would be a very cool place to go. All the stores are very very small and very unique. It was interesting to see the difference in decor how some places were just a couple racks and a cash register and how some were nearly an art studio in their originality.
Last night I also braved the Suan Lum Night Bazaar which runs until 130am. That was also a fun experience though I would never, in a million years, go with anyone else. There was barely enough room for me..... and my elephantine ass... to get between racks and through the crowds. Surprisingly, I wasnt bothered by people trying to sell me things like in Mexico where they nearly assault you in an attempt to get you to purchase their wares. There was one very charming man who probably could have coaxed the life savings out of an old lady, he was very good at his job but I wasnt interested in a pashmina scarf. Its too bloody hot for that! Though I suppose I could have tied that around my ass. - notice how I cant get off that topic -
Bangkok is very lived in and it is very obvious I dont belong here. I go hours without seeing another caucasian person - which is what I love most about this city - which makes me happy but also makes for a bit of intimidation at night. It isnt that I dont feel safe, but I certainly dont feel like I can just wander around like I did in Europe. People here are going about their lives, doing what they need to do and though their economy thrives on tourism, I am getting the impression they arent too fond of us. And who can blame them...question mark, cant find the question mark!.... Now that isnt to be misunderstood as I feel intimidated because Im white. It is because even at my worse, I am more privileged than almost everyone I see here on the street. And that is because Im white.
I was wondering today how it would feel to have my language cast aside and told that I should learn a different one because it would make life easier. How would life be easier by learning a foreign language and having to stumble through it awkwardly...question mark. I see Starbucks, MacDonalds, 7-11 everywhere. Globalization is like a disease here and it makes me sad. Im not so naieve that I dont know it was inevitable and is inevitable eventually everywhere but that doesnt mean I wish it werent. Of course, Im sure that would mean that I wouldnt be able to be here either. Its a catch 22 really.
Many times in the last 48 hrs Ive wished to be an invisible observer but its pretty hard to be invisible when you are so obviously not from here. Im a neon gringo here!....a reference only three people will understand. I sometimes feel like Im being judged for other tourists mistakes or just how they choose to travel. There are many tourists here who come to drink cheap liquor, lay around on the beach all day and sleep their way through an entire village. I am not a tourist. I try my best to experience other cultures without leaving any trace of myself behind when I leave, in my opinion thats what it means to be a conscious traveller.
Anyway, Ive blabbed on long enough now that I can safely go to bed without being in bed too early. I woke up once this morning around 3am but was able to force myself back to sleep. I WILL be more stubborn than my jet lag!
Please sacrifice goats for me in hopes of my luggage turning up tomorrow!!