I landed last night at midnight, in my favorite city in the world. The first time I came to Southeast Asia, it was 2003. I’ve been back six times in 10 years, and I couldn’t tell you how many days I’ve spent in Bangkok. Let’s just say, a lot. Most travelers view this town as a 24-hour pitstop. To some, it’s a necessary annoyance before heading down to the beaches or north to the temples of Sukhothai and Chiang Mai.
Me? I get caught here. I wake up to the sound of roosters screaming through the open window of a shitty, cracked and peeling room with a weak fan and bed sheets that look like they belong on the set of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I pay $7 per night, and I always stay in the same place.
I wake up to the smell rotted fruit from the gutter mixing with incense, and it’s loud as hell. Twenty-four hours per day, it’s loud. I wake up rested, to the sound of screaming roosters. I wake up blessed, wrapped in the feeling of being at home. Home in the noise and the heat and the rot and the temples. I can curl up and nap in Bangkok … even when I’m awake. She is New Orleans … if you made New Orleans the size and the strength of New York. There’s no other way to describe this town in a single, adequate sentence. Author Tom Robbins came pretty damn close, but he used two. Cheater.
“Simultaneously a frantic, high-tech juggernaut and a timeless Asian dream, Bangkok straddles like no other metropolis the boundary between acrid and sweet, soft and hard, sacred and profane. It’s a silk buzz saw, a lacquered jackhammer, a steel-belted seduction, a digital prayer.” – Villa Incognito
I spent this morning exploring a section of town I’d never been to before, on the advice of a fellow photographer who I met on the street last night. I went to Pahurat, a.k.a. Little India, around 7 a.m. I wandered from there to the Pak Khlong Flower Markets during the morning rush hour, and watched the vendors pass their garlands through the windows of taxis. The cab drivers hang fresh ones from the rear view mirrors as an offering to the gods. To keep them safe. To keep them blessed in Bangkok.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hi. I’m Jenny. I’m a freelance writer/photographer, based out of the East Village in Manhattan. If you know me, you know I carry a journal everywhere. I’ve been writing in one since I took my first extensive backpacking trip in 2003. I moved to New Zealand and Thailand for seven months. There were a lot of occasions to sit in cafes or temples, on curbs or on beaches – and just write. There was a lot going on that year, obviously – stuff I wanted to record. Thoughts that I wanted keep forever. Then, I came home in 2004. I put that first journal on a shelf. About 24 hours later, I missed it. So I bought another one. I’ve filled 28 now, and my 29th is approximately 4 feet from my hands as I type this.