Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ready for Seoul...

The bus drive to Bangkok was uneventful to say the least. The only interesting part was a movie they played, a french mockery of spy films called Double Zero, and the decor in the bus, which was very 80s with bright greens and blues. Landen once told me that the Thais were on a permanent acid trip in regards to their color scheme, and I would have to agree. My first room in Bangkok had a pastel-pink color that nobody in their right mind would choose for a hotel room. I arrived close to Khao Sarn Road (sp?) which is the hostel district in Bangkok. It was 5 am and people were still up... this was a little unnerving. I went to the room, slept for two hours and headed out to the Korean Embassy. It took about twenty minutes to get my taxi driver to figure out where the embassy was; he had to call a couple of other drivers and stop at a hotel. However, he was nice and I got to the embassy on time to drop off my stuff. Unfortunately, I forgot a passport size photo of me and had to go to a department store to get one made before I could finish the application. By the time I left the embassy it was 2:30 pm, even though I got there around 9 am. Lunch was the only truly bad meal I had in my entire Thai experience: rice with two curries. One of the curries was green and tasted like moldy squash and the other was red and the chicken had no meat, just gristle and bone. The rice was good though!
I decided to walk home from the embassy even though it must have been around 14 km. I thought that it couldn't be that bad, I had walked nine miles before. Of course, I hadn't figured in the heat, or the fact that I wasn't exactly sure where Khao Sarn road was. Nonetheless, it was a great way to see parts of the city, but solely parts because this city is gigantic. Two hours into the walk, I saw a huge crowd of people crowding around the Arts and Cultural Center. Apparently, the queen was making a visit! Because the Thais are obsessed with the queen, I thought it would be cool to stick around and wait for her to come. And wait, and wait. Although I got there around 4:30, she didn't make an appearance until 6:30. I was getting quite tired by this time, but fortunately a spider was nearby and I was able to watch it build an entire web. No joke, it was one of the coolest things I saw. At 5:30, a group of some 50 women marched out all in the same outfit and sat down in Thai style in the plaza.
Of course, I thought that soon the queen would come, but it wasn't until 6:20 that they started to dance. It was that creepy finger dance, but maybe I'm getting used to it. Ten minutes later, and there was the queen! Unfortunately, I was standing opposite the red carpet and couldn't see her face, but I think I captured a picture of the back of her head. The security was pretty insistent that we kept a good distance from the queen, and at her arrival it was the first time in Bangkok I saw completely empty streets. After she entered the building, the crowd completely scattered and I finished my walk home. By this time, Andie was worried I had been kidnapped, but luckily I am still alive. Her plane was at three in the morning, but we still chatted for a little bit, grabbed a bite to eat, griped about money issues, watched youtube videos, found me a hotel for the next two nights and then finally went to bed.
I've been pretty sore all day from my long walk, but started out the day in high hopes. I only have two more nights here in Thailand and then it is off to work! Bangkok is not the city I expected. While Chiang Mai is really cultural, beautiful, decently calm, and, yet, still has a lot to do, Bangkok is just too much. It is a gigantic city with a gigantic population. And there isn't any sort of 'downtown' area with a cluster of skyscrapers. Instead, the huge buildings are just dropped casually across the entire metropolis. The entire walk yesterday was just one part of the city, yet it all unfolded in the same way with clusters of store fronts and apartments broken up by the huge buildings. The metro system also is not aesthetic. In fact, it looks almost communist, being constructed of cement and suspended above the city. The city is a bit ugly. Nice aspects exist, of course, but it is just too much. The next two days are going to be more for me to relax than revel, which I don't think is a very Bangkokish thing to do.

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