Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bangkok is Still Here


The fastest way to Bangkok is not to fly first to Beijing; going to Beijing would be like stopping for gas in Boise, Idaho, on your way from Vancouver to Calgary. Air China was the cheapest way to get to Bangkok, however, and Erin and I are extremely discourteous to our future selves when we’re pricing out flights, so we had a very long journey yesterday and the day before, and — technically — the day before that.

Everything here feels familiar. Even stepping out of the plane into the partially air-conditioned limbo of the jetway was familiar. The humidity of Bangkok made all of my clothes go limp and hug my body. The spiffy new airport I’d never been to before felt just like old Don Muang airport must have felt like about 40 years’ worth of entropy ago (and completely unlike the gargantuan unused mausoleum of air travel they built in Beijing — see Erin’s post at It was bustling, fairly efficient, and friendly.

We got to my old Bangkok haunt, the Nakorn Pink Hotel, at about 1:00 AM. Completely fucked from the fifteen-or-so time zones we crossed and the airplane beer and the snippets of sleep we managed, Erin and I were hungrier than we were tired, so we went and hit one of my favourite restaurants (the seafood place on the corner of Samsen and Soi 6 — some of you know what I’m talking about). Then we wandered down empty Bangkok streets in a happy daze and stopped for Beer Chang at Popiang House. At 4:00 AM we got to overhear conversation about someone who’d just missed his flight home for the second day in a row because he wanted “just one more beer”. I know the feeling.

I’m actually surprised at how happy I am to be back. I’m overjoyed. I’m giddy. I’m in Asia again. It’s been too long. I find myself wondering why I ever left. I’m sure there’s a reason, but I can’t think of it right now.

A few things have changed about Bangkok. There’s the odd new restaurant and guesthouse around, and the 7-storey ruins on Chakrabongse are in noticeably worse shape than they were four years ago (I wonder if anyone was hurt when all of those chunks fell off), but the feeling is still the same. The people are still friendly and if you go to the right places, the prices are still low. There’s a reason why so many people go to Thailand: because it’s fucking awesome.

Erin and I have been just wandering around, sussing out travel details and eating $1 meals out of the little street stalls. Erin, having quit her job just one weekend plus two long flights ago, is already coming up with ideas for stories she could write about Bangkok. I have forbidden her to go to work already. Tonight we’re going to go and watch Muay Thai boxing and get drunk and place bets, and tomorrow we’re getting on a bus for the beach. She’s going to take a week off and there’s not a damn thing she can do about it.


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