Ah, Bangkok. Again. The greatest sensory pleasures here are cool mid-day showers, mango with sticky rice, and the visual stim of buzzing Khao San Road. It is sentimental in a way though. Bangkok has served as the confluence of all legs of my trip. I have favorite eateries, recognize shop owners, and pass tables that are linked to people and memories.
My sole goal for today: find “Monk’s Bowl Village,” perfect finale for a monk-peeper. But not so perfectly easy to get to. No tuk-tuk driver had heard of it and wanted to charge $7 to go looking. Finally one agreed to 10 baht (30 cents) if I do “a stop.” That means entering a shop and playing interested so that the driver can collect a gas coupon. I failed the first one. Didn’t look long enough at silk ties and boxers. Second try, a travel agency, meant spending 20 minutes of amusement asking questions and looking at pictures of places I’d already been. But, tuk-tuk man was happy. Until his engine stopped one block away. Then he kicked me out into a taxi, who also didn’t know the way and kicked me out onto the sidewalk. But, finally I found myself surrounded by shops selling all things orange and monk-like including “care kits” of yellow umbrella and towel, matches, condensed milk, and even chocolate. I made a few purchases to shopkeepers’ confusion: “This….it’s for monk??”
Even my ride back had humor. My motorcycle taxi driver had worrisome conversational habits: talking with his hands and trying to make eye contact. I watched the road for both of us while he pointed into the air: “Amelika? GOOOOD country” and proceeded to count….um, favorite presidents?….on his fingers. “Number ONE, Lincoln. Number TWO, John F. Kennedy.” Damn if he didn’t even include George Bush in the interest of exhausting all English words he knew.
Since then, money spent, I’ve wandered the streets begging baht for a street dinner. I went from one WE BUY EVERYTHING shop to another greeted with head shakes and even snickers when they peeked inside my little baggy of “treasures.” Finally, my Hindi phrasebook earned me a banana pancake. I was hoping to also gain a fruit shake, but no one seems to want my India map, skytrain ticket, and gold glitter nail polish (don’t ask).
Tomorrow, 27 hour journey home. Guess that means that it’s time for taxes, billing, roadtrips, paperwork, phoning….yeah, reality calls. “Reality” includes many people that I’ve missed talking to though, so I won’t resist too strongly.
“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” T.S. Eliot quotes
With that bit of clarity: FAREWELL SOUTHEAST ASIA!!