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Welcome To Bangkok

By Author: TATN Th
Total Articles: 21

The river of life carries me along, locals unsubtly glancing up at my imposing frame, and wide-eyed children starring at the alien making an impromptu visit to their city. The wind echoes the word “farang” with occasional inquisition, and a bold teenager shouts out “hello!” with a naughty disposition. I feel vulnerable yet safe, cautious yet adventurous, excited yet calm – a guest with a strange sense of belonging.

Momentarily I step into the road to reclaim my orientation, sticking closely to the curb to avoid the onslaught of buses, taxis and hawkers. I stare out into the sea of people and random placement of buildings and billboards, pondering how such an unsightly masterpiece came to exist. The words “Buy something Mr” echo through my ears, as a group of traders beckon me towards their lair of gifts. As if under a spell I hand over 100 Baht for a wooden elephant, hand-carved with love and precision in a factory just a stone’s throw from where I stand. “This lucky one, trunk up, if trunk down not lucky”, the seller assures me, as she ritualistically slaps my money across every gift on her stall, enticing good fortune to bless her once again.

“Where you from?” she asks, with a wry smile. But before I can answer the next potential sale has stolen her interest. Life has moved along. And so must I.

My head spins once again, as the smell of a thousand ingredients I’ve never tasted fill the afternoon air. My senses direct me towards a lady beating papaya salad in a bowl. She effortlessly flips the mixture into a small, see-through bag while nattering away to an elderly woman perched on a stool selling flowers. As the dialect bites my ears I fall into a trance. I reminisce over childhood travel experiences, over times when every breath felt fresh and each waking second presented new opportunity, times when dreams were my reality and life was a re-paintable canvas.

Suddenly I’m tapped on the shoulder, I’m 30 years older, my som tum is ready and the motorbike on the pavement nearly runs me over. But something’s changed. In those few split seconds on this nameless street of Krungthep, amidst the tranquil mayhem, I feel more alive than I’ve ever felt before.

As I fight off this profound moment, my eyes meet the gaze of a fruit stool three lots down. I scurry over and order a coconut. The fruit bearer draws a small sword, and with four precise hacks gains access to the holy water. I greedily sip from the tropical forest’s chalice, wondering upon which beautiful Thai island such a treasure might have grown. Then, without hesitation, I allow myself to be swallowed by the sidewalk once again, falling awake into a new world of possibility…

This, dear reader, is the city of angels, the big mango, the capital of the land of smiles, the city where dreams persist and reality persistently resides.

Welcome to the heat, the hustle, the struggle, the fortune, the smiles and the “mai ben rai” (no problem). Welcome to the heartbeat of Thailand, where every corner of the country represents its soil and multiple dialects converge with a common ancestor. Welcome to a place where Tuk Tuks are as important as banks, and chillies as much a necessity as water.

Welcome to the city that picks you up, turns you inside out and injects a potentially fatal dose of life into your tired bones. Welcome to the most inspiring city in the world. Welcome to Bangkok.

By Peter Litchfield

Total Views: 62Word Count: 590See All articles From Author

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