I am sure that there are going to be times within the next few months where I feel overwhelmed with everything so tho is potentially the first of many times when I will just say the word ‘wow’. Of course ‘wow’ does not quite sum it up, it is far from enough for what i have experienced over the last 24 hours but it’s a good start.
Just before I was leaving the UK I had a long sit down chat with my ex-landlords K & G and I remember K telling me that if I have not slowed down by the time I hit Asia then Asia will find a way to slow me down and she was very right indeed. Maybe it would be not so bad another time of the year but I have happened to hit Thailand right in the midst of the rainy season and to say the air is thick with humidity is an understatement. I would go so far to say that it is so thick that you could probably spread it on toast. If that was not enough at any moment the heavens may open and launch on you rain that neither cools down the temperature or changes the humidity and is warm enough to swim in. The only thing I can do about the condition of the weather here in Bangkok is accept it.
I have not done much today and I think that over the next few days this will continue where I will do one or two things during the day and mostly this is because walking anywhere in this place is confusing, horribly polluted, pedestrian unfriendly and a little scary in places to say the least. But all of these things are mostly because the lifestyle here is so alien to me. The Thai people have a language i don’t understand, cannot read and all I can recognise is the things from the west e.g. Beer, Coca-cola, Starbucks and yes even Tesco have a branch here. But I don’t want to to be that westerner that goes all the way to Asia and just eats McDonalds, I would like to be the westerner that tries his hardest to embrace the culture and comes away from the experience with a lot more knowledge than he started about Thailand and it’s people.
Sights, smells and sounds are all some shade of foreign. Considering that I lived and worked in London for at least fifteen years of my life I would say that Bangkok has more traffic. It’s either that or the traffic is more semi-organised chaos which makes it feel more dangerous. Pedestrians are not safe, even on pavements you get the odd person on a moped or scooter (not sure what the difference is) pooling along where your feet should be so you do the right thing and give way to it. You may be thinking this is wrong and in the western world yes it is, but here in Thailand it’s perfectly normal and even accepted and it’s you the foreigner who has to adjust.
So yeah I may not of seen much today (apart from the behemoth that is MBK) but I had a major experience walking along the road with the air thick with pollution, heat and humidity. I managed to haggle for the first time, I did a bit of research by eating Thai food, sat and drank a blended coffee and chatted to an american couple. There was one other thing I noticed, every westerner I pass looks at me and I look at them and we both know that we are tourists. There is a look in their eye that says something like “Did you have any idea of how mad this place is?”, the generic reply being a smile that probably says “I hear you”.
Yes Bangkok is mad, well to my mind it is mad but like the title says I am probably in sensory overload having never experienced such a foreign place before. I am sure that after a few weeks I will be a bit wiser about Thai culture and the crazy won’t seem so crazy no more. I noticed today one thing, my need to walk fast in this city has been pushed out of the window of a tall building. It was nagging me for a while but doing anything energetic in this humidity would be foolish so I have started to take life literally at a slower pace.