Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bangkok: Old City

I experienced Bangkok chiefly through my nose. An amazing city of contrasts. Delicious whiffs of garlic and lemongrass battle a sour stench of fish stock boiling in cauldrons as it like has for centuries. The whiffs from food stands would overwhelm us with appetite only to vanish into nausea at the next turn.

The city itself has the feel of those boiling cauldrons as thousands and thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Old City. An endless stream of marching and speech making. Lost, we ended up in the mix twice. It was tough to tell what direction the movement is heading, but I doubt such dedicated individuals will fail to leave their mark. Just don't ask them directions to Jay Fai's noodle shop because that will just get you lost.

We survived the crushing throngs of Chinatown shoppers and then found ourselves in the shocking stillness of monastery walls. The effect was disorienting. Pure chaos followed by pure peace.

When we return we will see a different city away from the protests where business happens. Street food and temples will swap with restaurants and expat bars. Likely another stark contrast to all we experienced.

Still trying to form my impressions of the place, and I may save judgment until my next pass through. For now we are in Myanmar for Christmas and loving the place and it's people.

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