I wish I had written a post yesterday about my first impressions and experiences in Bangkok. My goal would have been to have given you a clear picture of what I saw or learned or how I felt. It would have been easier since I was fresh and my "bowl" was empty. Unfortunately, after a second full day of touring, it has filled up and is brimming. It feels like I am floating about in an alphabet soup and colliding with many different letters, some in a foreign scribble, and now lack the ability to even sufficiently describe the texture, color or odor of the broth. I am overwhelmed and tongue-tied. Perhaps this mental muddle is a result partially of jet lag and troubled sleep, but then again I'm definitely not in America.
One of the benefits of photography is that preserving a scene helps recreate the moment and brings back memories which otherwise are damaged or lost. So, to help me recall, I have selected a few photos from yesterday. In the midday heat, I ventured out aimlessly down the busy street in my neighborhood of Banglamphu skirting the Chao Phraya River, a watercourse similar in size and depth to the Willamette in Portland, but different by its chocolate-brown color and strange-shaped longboats. After passing through a college campus, I suddenly discovered on the other side that I had arrived at a marketplace, which by size and complexity was beyond my wildest expectations.
With my camera, hanging down from my neck like a giant amulet, I began "subtly" snapping photos of working people and their goods. It was propitious that I came upon the man in the first photo. He was selling beautifully designed, scrumptious, baked goods. Unlike all the other vendors, he seemed curious about me, was willing to chat, and spoke good English. I told him of my journey and he told me of his, the importance of right disposition, a key Buddhist concept. Furthermore he spoke of the Thais. They were a good people, reserved and intelligent, and could be engaged through the art of smiling.
Putting his advise to work, I began to stroll past vendors, taking pictures and smiling. Several ladies offered me tasty morsels and another gave me a flower. There was none of the hubbub nor filth nor begging nor pushy hawking I had experienced in so many other countries. The market was busy, but almost quiet, except for a lone guitarist who played tranquilly to the public. I listened for a while and noticed a policeman standing nearby. It occurred to me that I had seen neither soldiers nor police on my entire walk until then. At that moment the policeman ambled over to the musician, said something in his ear and picked up the microphone. With a soft melodic voice and, accompanied by the guitarist, the cop began to sing beautifully and gently what could have been a ballad or love song. I listened for a while and moved on, knowing that my new adventure had truly begun.
It is now morning in Oregon. It is the middle of the night here in Thailand. Good judgment says I should try and go to sleep. The distance between us vast. I sit alone, ponder, and write my story to make deadline. I want my post to be like the morning paper thrown at your door. I don't know why. I just do.