Monday, July 11, 2011
Musings on a Balmy Bangkok Night
It had been awhile since I last stepped on Bangkok soil. Two years to be exact. It felt like forever.
While Manila was starting to get drowned in a deluge of garbage, Bangkok was a world away. At 1AM, it was almost sweltering at 30 degrees C. I walked fast and headed to immigration. No questions. Then retrieved my checked in luggage. For a while, I debated with myself whether I'd have to exchange a couple of hundred dollar bills or wait til I'm in the city. As I was walking past forex booths, it dawned on me how beautiful Suvarnabhumi International Airport is; and at close to midnight, it was a flurry of activities. It probably won't sleep tonight.
I headed straight to the Tourist Information Counter and asked for a free map, but while waiting for my turn, I was observing how a geriatric French woman was monopolizing the counter. 10, 15 minutes must have passed and she was still there. She was asking which place is best for her (she was pointed to Kao San Road); which hotels; where the ATM machines are in the area; where hospitals can be located (she looked like she was going to require an oxygen cannula anytime soon); were these good hospitals? In her old age, she never fathomed the concept of research prior to trips? And yes, Kao San Road and the Banglamphu area couldn't be the best place for the geriatric population. No, sir! They're not!
I wanted to check out the Left Luggage Counter (which they label "Left Baggage"). I was told it just at the end of the hall near the police booth. But after waiting for Ms. French Pooper, I skipped the idea altogether. it was too late to be "researching" at close to 2AM.
The "Public Taxi" booth is now located at the ground floor, and outside door no. 7. I went straight to the counter, told the lady I was headed to Lamphu House (where I made a reservation 2 months ago). We took the highway, and I paid 20 and 40 baht successively for the 2 toll booths we passed. By the time we made it to Soi Rambuttri, just in front of 7-11, the meter displayed 240 baht. I gave the driver 300, which, I think is already generous.
In the last 4-5 years, Bangkok has become a more expensive city, and the discrepancy is almost palpable. There was a time when your $100 would yield 3,500 baht. Now, it's just 2,800 baht. Thailand must be doing something right, gaining worth for their local currency. Great development for the Thais, but not such a great news for the hundreds of thousands of backpackers ruminating the metropolis.
I am contemplating on Bangkok's great strides as I write this at Lamphu House's internet room. The white guy beside me stank of alcohol. He tries to navigate around his keyboard with a funny sway. Must be fun.
This is Bangkok - where the resilience of its people reflects in their capacity to absorb or tolerate weird people. Like this inebriated guy just a few feet beside me. Like the tranny who winked at me earlier while I was having my midnight dinner. Though trannies seem misplaced in soi Rambuttri, anything can happen in Bangkok.
This is the Eye in the Sky!
Photo courtesy of www.thailandtriptour.com