Back in Bangkok

April 1, 2007

We’ve come full circle in our travels of Southeast Asia, once again back in Bangkok, where it all started. I remember the first night here. The weariness from a full day’s travel, the bewilderment of stepping out of the taxi onto Khao San Road and seeing all of those Western faces, the fear of going out of the guesthouse where I was sure there were thieves and tricksters, just waiting to steal my money and fancy-pants Sony digicam.

dsc02466.jpgNow I can laugh at myself. Bangkok is cake, with its 7-11s and Boots drug stores. The streets are loud and chaotic of course, but I’ve been in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. It’s dirty and sticky, but nothing like the dirt roads of Cambodia. It can be sinister in places, but not where we’re staying, Siam Square, Thailand’s Times Square, post-Giuliani.

The day we got here felt good. Stepping off of the bus, we were approached by taxi touts. They told us it would cost 300 baht (about $9) to get from the bus terminal to our hotel. I laughed at them. Please! Who do you think we are? Some naïve tourists? (With tip included, in costs $3.)

With Laos and Cambodia to compare it to, Bangkok feels like Beverly Hills. Despite the 90-degree heat, women strut around in full makeup and high heels, toting LV bags. The boys here are pretty, with their dyed hair, plucked eyebrows, and skinny jeans. There are Dunkin Donuts and Subways on every corner. Middle school kids dine on sushi and pizza at mega shopping malls. By contrast, I feel like a country bumpkin in my dust-covered khakis, hippie cotton shirt, and flip-flops.

Still, after months of being the lost tourist, it’s nice to come back to something familiar. Relatively familiar, that is.

We’ll stay here for a couple more days before beginning the second half of our figure-eight route down south to Thailand’s beaches.


5 Responses to “Back in Bangkok”

  1. Keiko said

    wow, you’ve been travelling for so long now. i can’t wait to read about the beaches and see the pictures. i talked to your mom the other day and told her how i’m obsessed with your blog and read it all the time for my asia history lesson!!!! hope all is well, keikus

  2. geannina said

    Hey there my world-traveler! (or at least SE Asian traveler). I’m glad to hear that you are being exposed to the other side of the world (as in other side of Miami). A trip like this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and many people don’t even get the opportunity to do it.
    I hope it leaves an imprint in your mind and your heart of how people live in some parts of the world.
    Sometimes traveling tens of thousands of miles away takes us to a place that is not much different from home. It’s amazing how “westernized” the world has become (and continues to become). Sometimes it takes us to a place some of us would much rather never think of – let alone see – full of poverty, dirt roads, lack of clean water or access to healthcare.
    I appreciate your blog and try to visit it as much as I can; seeing SE Asia vicariously through your eyes is a great trip indeed!

    Stay safe. Send my affection to Shin.

    Besos y abrazos,


  3. sailorjes said

    Hey girls,

    Yeah, I can’t believe how far I’ve come, in both the literal and figurative sense. It will be weird when it’s all over and I have all of the luxuries of the First World at my fingertips, but I’ll miss the excitement and sense of discovering something new everyday.

    You’ve put a lot of pressure on me. Now that I know you’re reading, I’ll have to take a break from beach-bumming to fire up the brain synapses and write something!

  4. erica said

    its amazing how relative everything is, eh? i remembered feeling the same way, passing through taipai on my way to vietnam and thinking how different taipai was from japan. then on my way back though taiwan all i could think was how similar it was to japan after all.

    and in the end, there is always that great satisfaction of knowing the bangkok tuk-tuk drivers have nothing on you!

  5. When I open up your Feed it appears to be a ton of nonsense, is the problem on my part?

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