Sunday, August 2, 2015

Approximately One Night in Bangkok

This is a picture of me at the royal barge museum. A wonderful and strange floating museum of the Thai Kings barges used during official ceremonies. One of the many unexpected but delightful finds in Bangkok.
When I was backpacking in 2006 I met a man who was on his 8th consecutive circumnavigation of the globe. We met in a hostel in Serbia but I told him that I would eventually be heading to Bangkok on my travels. In his worldly way he said that was good and that Bangkok whatever I need it to be whenever I arrive. I never really knew what he meant by this but on this most recent trip it made more sense to me. When I arrived in 2006 I was an exhausted backpacker and Bangkok gave me a quiet place to rest. This most recent visit Lilly and I wanted a little more city grit and energy and we got it. Bangkok has given me two completely different visits and each tailored to my mood, as if it knew I was coming. But this should be no surprise because Bangkok has been welcoming visitors since the times of the Angkor kingdoms. Thailand was never colonized but always hosted visiting armies, merchants, and foreign powers. They have mastered the politics of hospitality and at some point, by accident or design, every traveler will come to Bangkok. I left with the uncanny feeling that we will inevitably be back even if we have no plans to return and it will be exactly the place we need to be whenever that happens.

Here are some photo highlights of our time walking, getting lost, and eating across this enigmatic capital.

It was mangosteen season and we ate our weight in this delicious fruits. They have a thick read rind and a tart white flesh. The queen of fruits!

At JJ Market, a massive weekend market on the north edge of the city, we found some of the best American vintage clothes we've ever seen. Some of the most amazing were Vietnam war-era bomber jackets with embroidery of skull headed geishas and snoopy. This is where all the detritus from GI's who came in the 70s for R and R has ended up.

The Thai government has created a space for farmers to sell directly to city folks. We went and ate ourselves silly. It was amazing and not on any of the street food or tourist food blogs we found. There was a huge variety of fresh and prepared foods. Some highlights included crab legs with lime sauce, and curried fish stew on rice.

 And ofcourse we made time for temples. Here are shots from Wat Pho and Wat Arum.

One night we went to a "ladyboy" show. Last year Lilly was asked by the New Yorker to write the text for a photo essay about this Bangkok transsexual cabaret ( She did a great job researching from Atlanta, but we felt we of all people needed to go see it for ourselves. To our surprise it was billed as "family friendly" and the audience was composed of ourselves and Chinese families with kids. The show itself was an hour of lip-sinked dance routines to pop songs. It was all camp and a lot of fun, and we of course got our pics taken with the performers.

We don't know when or why or how, but we do know we'll be back to Bangkok one of these days.

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