Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Big [Dirty] Mango

Bangkok, Monday morning, December 2009.

I awoke on Khao San Rd at 5:30am.  Fumbling out of my 3 dollar hostel, there was heavy grey mist covering the streets and the only thing clear to me was the blood orange color of the monks' thick robes wandering silently, collecting alms. their presence is loud, although a peaceful one.

Thailand is a maze of contradictions. it's culture full of paradoxes that few can solve or explain.
How is it that these holy men walk this street before dawn so gracefully when only hours before it was littered with drunken backpackers, prostitutes and scam-artists? How can these cultures coexist in a way that makes sense?

Bangkok, although the most Westernized city in the country, also exudes the most "Thai"ness. It is a compact chaos, glittering with golden stupas and suffocated by smog. Its people, its badgering, its heavy air, tuk-tuks, traffic, they weigh down on me so much that I feel like the city is actually a pressure cooker, not a metropolis, and I'm ready to explode.

 They call it the Big Mango, which I always assumed was an Asian play on the Big Apple, but Bangkok is not unlike eating a ripe mango with your hands: if you don't mind the mess, its quite the treat...

Bangkok has the most to offer, assuming you can suffer through all the in between. The most beautiful temples, some of the best food, easily the best shopping.... It's a fascinating,fun and fast paced place to be, but it wears down on you quick... which is why I was sprinting towards the bus station, utterly exhausted and desperate to get back to dusty old Ayutthaya.... Oh yeah, and I had to be in class by 9 o clock......

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