Bangkok Air From Koh Samui to Bangkok again. Not a pretty city but it’s vibrant. The populace, as with much of Asia, lives outdoors-almost all 10 million of them. It is increasingly cosmopolitan and this year seems to have more farangs (Westerners) than I can recall in my several former visits here.
It is a paradox of a city. Some big money and big establishments with big prices but the vast majority is poor and the cost of living (by most western standards) is inexpensive. Traffic predictably chaotic with frequent gridlock. Travel by sky train and new subway system redeeming (and air-conditioned).
Walking is an adventure with uneven and poorly constructed sidewalks, often with holes, open pits, and unstable underfoot tiles– exposed haphazard electrical wiring and the mangiest dogs anywhere –all of them breeding exponentially. Hard to tell if they have any owners. Half of the dogs have orthopedic disability either from vehicle vs dog and/or intracanine squabbles. They sleep on the sidewalks during the day and roam at night occasionally in packs that cause a pause and change of direction for us pedestrians.
Shops, vendors, food stalls on wheels, open front restaurants, open sewers, tuk-tuks; all contribute to a cacophany of sound and smell that paradoxically continue to be both enticing and repelling. Bangkok is not renowned for it’s aesthetics. It is visited for it’s populace…the Thai people.
Smiles and accomodation prevail—but who knows what is lurking beneath…best to accept the presentation at face value and not analyze. The attitude, dictums of the Budda prevail. Mei pen rai (“whatever”). As a passenger on a motorcycle taxi the driver, without looking, pulls out and speeds into the flow of traffic. “Slowly, slowly”, says I. “Mai pen rai, Budda will take care of us,” is the nonchalant response. The concept of liability has not reached these shores. Persons or events are either lucky or not lucky. Inevitable comparison of societies is fraught with subjectivity and tilted by one’s biases. Perhaps it is best (and more just) to live and let live. Enough. RLG
Tags: Bangkok, Bob's Trips, Culture, Names For Foreigners, Subways, Thai Culture, Thailand, Trains