Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bangkok Snapshot

Yes, it has been a little while since I last wrote. I usually don't get home from school until late, and by then I just eat, maybe read a little, and then go to bed. Also, Sergei (my computer, for those of you who don't know) has been acting a little sick lately. I swear, it's one illness after the other. He only got out of the hospital a little over a month ago, recovering from a crashed harddrive, and now he's having a "fan error." Anyway, I'm writing this on the computers at my school.

Back to my point. Or maybe I should start my point. I haven't taken many pictures while I've been here. I feel like this place is too hard to capture in a camera, at least for an inexperienced photographer like myself. I've taken a couple of pictures on the street, but after looking at them I realize how far they fall short of reality. I think Bangkok needs to be seen as a panorama, not little cut-out pictures. The best way to see Bangkok is to ride the BTS (skytrain) and just look out the window, something I do everytime I'm going to and from school. It's also a very bad place to take pictures, so there you go. Although I know a picture is worth a thousand words, I will ignore that right now and try to describe Bangkok a little, so you'll get a glimpse of what it's like.

Whenever I ride the BTS, I love seeing the differences around me, both in the people in the train and the scenery outside of it. Most people, especially women, dress very fashionably here. I think it's probably because it's a big city, since Soojee told me that most people in the country just wear t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.
Bows are popular: bows on purses, on shoes, on skirt-bands, on shirt fronts. Shoes are also very important, and most women either wear fancy high-heels or unique flats. I usually laugh at my own feet; I wear my Chacos every day. Although we are supposed to look very professional at school, we don't wear shoes inside so it doesn't matter what I wear on my feet. There's also lots of uniformed school-kids, poor souls. I kind of hate uniforms, and some of these ones are just too much for me. The other day I saw three boys who were wearing light blue button-ups, short blue shorts that sat WAY down on their hips, orange belts, and those awful shoes with the fringe on the top. Poor, sad souls. There's also a sprinkling of long-haired hippies, black-shirted punks, jacketed hipsters, and the occasional cross-dresser.

Outside the window is always nice. Even though it's a city, orange and yellow flowering trees shove up through the concrete accompanied by the occasional palm. Shiny skyscrapers stand right next to faded, scrappy apartment buildings. I love those apartment buildings with their chipping paint and decaying roofs. Some of the buildings have ancient, birdcage balconies while others have viney plants exploding over their edges. Some aren't so picturesque: they just have cracked walls, clothing hanging out to dry, and rubber wash-buckets. 7-Elevens are everywhere here, and often a brightly lit Sev sign will be hanging from an old gray building that looks like it could topple in on itself at any moment. Signs for KFC, Subway, Burger King are all shoved in between Thai massage signs and coffee shops.

I went to Jutujak market yesterday. Yes, I went again. Since it's my last weekend here, I wanted to finish up my shopping. I kind of hate how stall-keepers usually pester me when I look at their stuff. I know they're just trying to be attentive, but I'd rather look on my own. Thankfully, it wasn't as bad today as it usually is. I think it's better in a market than on the street. I was walking down an aisle (probably my 64th or something) when I saw a t-shirted manequin on my left. I seriously stopped in my tracks to look at the t-shirt. That was probably a bad idea, since a sweaty man almost plowed into me, but oh well. Her t-shirts are the prettiest most whimsical t-shirts I've ever seen! She had these crazy street scenes, awesome trees, and cool animals. I spent forever just looking at all the options. I was just going to buy one and I ended up buying three. They're a little small, smaller then I usually wear, but since we don't have a dryer at home, I know they won't shrink. I figure I can put them on when they're wet and stretch them out a bit.
I'm very happy with my choices, although I would have liked some of the other ones too. One is black with sweet-looking owls sitting in trees at sunset. Another is purple with a city night-scene of curling buildings, winding streets, and a pointy moon. The other is teal. It has a tree with gingerbread houses in its branches and little dressed up rabbits at the doors. I really wanted one that looks like the Old Woman in the Shoe, but she only had it in light pink and light yellow, not my favorite shirt colors. Another lady there (one who can speak English) told me that she draws them all herself without a computer and then screen prints them onto the shirts. I am amazed! If she sold these in the US, she could make a ton of money. They are gorgeous.

I spent a little more time in the punk section of the market, which is fun. Thai punks are pretty great. There's the biker section. Well, that's what I call it. I'm not really sure if that's what they are, but the boothmen are decked out in jeans, leather, black t-shirts, and bandanas. There's the
outdoorsy ones with shaggy hair and cut-off t-shirts. Then, my favorites, the black-shirted punks who sell skull handbags, spiky dog-collar necklaces, and any kind of band t-shirt you could want. I was most amazed by a man whose booth was next to the entrance. He's a large man, much bigger than most slim Thais. He was sitting in a chair surrounded by wrist-bands, patches, and shirts, talking with a customer. He was wearing a black leather vest and combat boots, and his fading crimson mohawk was slightly drooping in the heat. He also had necklaces, some that appeared to be a bunch of teeth, covering his chest. At that moment I wished that I had a camera in my eyes that could be activated by blinking. But either way, I don't think I'll forget him too soon.

It's slowly dawning on me that I'm leaving soon. Next Saturday I'll be flying back to Hong Kong. I'm going to miss Bangkok. I love being here. The people, the food, the colors, everything. I flirted with the idea of trying to stay here, get a job here instead of going back to Hong Kong. But my practical side won over. If I'm getting paid in bahts, and the exchange rate is thirty-two baht to the dollar, I don't think I'll be paying my loans off very quickly. This does give me a lot of motivation to work hard, to make lots of money, to get rid of those loans. After I pay them all off, I won't have to be motivated by money and I can go wherever I want. Being here has also opened my mind to travel. There's so many places in the world.
Where can I go next?

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