It smells like Thai spirit
Bangkok. They say you can only talk about a place impartially once you’ve left. I choose to talk about Bangkok from Koh Tao. Bangkok, the city with that perennial teen spirit. Alive, colorful and tremendously powerful.
We got to the City of Angels on a hot September night, after changing planes in the heat of the Omani desert. My kids and husband were already on the Thai side of the airport. I was in a limbo, my blue passport made me queue twice. I got my entrance stamp when a doctor had checked my yellow fever immunization (Thank you, Aniko Villalba for this tip). If you hold an Argentine passport immunization is a must to enter the country.
Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi Airport. The first thing I noticed was the smell: Rice!
Smelly Rice. Bangkok smelled like a wonderful steaming hot bowl of home-made Jasmine rice (khao hom mali). Other odors would come later (aka: sweet mango, frying oil, dirt, durian, sweat, basil – tons of it – smelly cheese, fresh fish, rotten fish, garbage…), those would come and go, or be more or less persistent. Fragrant rice was there to stay. And it was nice.
Cables on the streets of Bangkok.
Statue of a Lion. Wat Pho, Bangkok.
Memories of a Hippy Elephant
As cliché as I might sound, I wanted to experience what has attracted hordes of tourists over the years to this corner of the Globe. So no Sukhumvit, not a stylish modem neighborhood. Just plain Khao San Road! And it was not plain but full of chaos, music, street food. Lots of them all.
All right, it’s not the eighties anymore, but part of that spirit still lives on. In my opinion one could find it printed deep in the very cloth of elephant pants. Friends make fun of me and of my love for elephant pants… But they cannot see that elephant pants are more than pants. They’re a symbol, not a piece of garment. They carry a deep meaning of freedom and vagabond lifestyle I relate to, even during the days when my lifestyle is less nomadic and I am stuck on my desk.
It was pad Thai, Chang beer (I like Singha best) and reggae music on our first night. Like a religion, as it was all written on some instructions booklet for Bangkok first timers: what to eat-drink-do. Local noodles, local beer, Khao San road.
Some might argue it’s not such a great place for kids… Instead I felt safe. The angels of the city were watching over us four. They had conquered our own spirit. Starting by my 5-year old, who now owns a pair of elephant pants!
Elephant pants and Thai wai (wai, a greeting in the form of a slight bow, with the palms together as in a prayer).