Monday, February 27, 2012

Thailand: Day 1

Day 1: 1/21/12 Sunday, Bangkok

I board the express water taxi at Tha Tien headed for Wat Pho. It is no small feat. I am herded onto a teetering boat along with a flood of people while passengers on-board squeeze through the chaos, intent on getting off before the boat lurches back into the river traffic. The long-tail motor rumbles and roars making it impossible to hear anything above the din- anything besides her. A petite Thai lady with a stern face and sharp eyes elbows her way to the clump of new passengers. Somehow the sea of people part before her. There's an air of authority around her that is magnified by the intensity of her shrill voice. She's shouting in Thai for fares. Tourists with day-packs and cameras slung around their necks display a wide array of expressions from baffled and bewildered to confused and perturbed. Regulars seem oblivious to the cacophony that surrounds them, this is business as usual. This is Bangkok.


It was a very long and interesting first day in Bangkok. I arrived at the Bangkok International Airport around midnight and was united with the Wildlands Studies group outside of the Arrival Hall around 1 AM. It wasn't until the wee hours of the morning that I called it a night, falling fast asleep on a bottom bunk-bed (all the tops were taken). With 3 hours of restless sleep, the day began leisurely enough as I meandered through a local market to the closest water taxi dock. That's about the time I really woke up.

My first experience on a water taxi was sensational experience. The rusty dock creaked while the boat, overflowing with people, rocked to and fro with every swell. Bodies were packed tight and the heat of the day bore down unrelenting. The motor was so loud it made conversation practically impossible. Thankfully, I knew what stop to get off at ahead of time and was able to wiggle my way to the dock just as the water taxi pushed off, sputtering towards its next destination. Had I missed my stop, it would've been a long walk in the heat of the day.

I visited the Museum of Siam, a relatively new establishment opened in 2008. The museum explores the development of Thai identity through history. From prehistory to modern day, its various exhibition halls helped to further my understanding of Thailand's history and how Bangkok became the thriving capital city it is today.

With the history of Bangkok and greater Thailand fresh in my mind, I boarded a small long-tail. The boat explored the western bank and canals of the Chao Phraya river, an area of the city called Thon Buri. This was the part of Bangkok most severely affected by the flooding last year. It was high tide and water lapped lazily onto people's front steps and porches. A water line well above window panes was clearly distinguishable on many homes. In some places fragments of foundation were all that remained, the water had reclaimed buildings entirely.

The day ended on the river, naturally. I watched the sunset over the Rama IX bridge and mused over the day's adventures. As darkness blanketed the sky, the Chao Phraya sparkled, reflecting the city lights. I let my mind drift along its current, content with a day well lived.

1 comment:

  1. Get some more photos for that book! I want a signed first edition! (hugs)