16 April 2011

Bangkok pt. 1 - Day 4

I really hope I get used to my temporary home soon. When I woke up this morning I looked at my watch and it was only six. Khaosan Road is a bit like the epicenter of touristic craziness. That's why the street is crowded and loud till late at night. Many foreigners like the hype, the noise and the attention they get. Most of them leave when they've had enough of it. But some just stay and work the karaoke bar next door till three in morning.

I thought about getting up at that early hour, I thought about starting my day, about what to get for breakfast, I thought doughnuts and fell back asleep. An hour later my alarm rang. I realized and ignored it, which is exactly its purpose. I like the dozing off till the second, the serious alarm rings. I dozed off, the alarm rang, it was eight o'clock and I got up.

I went to the bank to get more Bahts to spend, and found my way to McDonald's because I couldn't find a Doughnut shop around. It's weird how comforting it is to eat something you know from home. Today I left most of my stuff at home to move around more freely. First thing on the list was to get a taxi cab without getting ripped off. I let the pink ones pass, because I didn't like the idea, and stopped a blue one.

Actually I was never too fond of the color blue. I didn't have anything particular against it, but somehow I never got anything blue. And it started at an early age, I never liked my fountain pen to write blue, I always used black ink or a pencil. I mean, there was exceptions. For example, one day, I got a super dope backpack from my friend Sookyung. It was all black, but the logo was stitched in blue. That was okay. I still don't wear blue jeans often, but I recently have built a strong affection on blue shirts. Navy not so much, but a strong royal or light blue I came to like a lot.

The cab was dark blue. I opened the door and said: “Meter on?”. The driver only smiled, but didn't say anything. “Sorry”, I said, “sawatdee khap. Meter, please?” He nodded and I got in. First thing I noticed was, it smelled exactly like in a taxi in Korea. I don't know, perhaps all cabs in the world smell the same, but I found it funny enough. It was super clean and Mr. Suchen seemed like a nice guy.

I told him I wanted to go to Siam Station. And to be honest, at first I thought he was pulling a Driving Miss Daisy on me, but then I saw him adjust the radio volume. We didn't talk, so he switched it on. After a while he tried to lower the volume from seven to six, but it jumped to five. He slightly turned the nob and it went from five across six to seven. He tried it again, but again it looked like seven was only using six to get to five. He put more and more attention to it, but his nervous hand finally left it, with a sigh, on five. He didn't seem like a bad guy.

I bought a ticked and got on the sky train. I rode it for a number of stations, I knew that Mo Chit, the one I was heading at, was at the very end of the line, so I laid back and listened to some tunes while outside the city was passing by. At one of the stops the doors opened and everybody left. Man, this is a popular station, I thought, before I realized that it was the last stop. The sign said On Nut and I understood I was at the wrong end of the line.

It wasn't much of a big deal, though, the trains are cool and it reminds me of sitting in a subway train in Seoul. It's just, my plan to get there early was now clearly failed. Still, I enjoyed the ride back. I read a little, wrote a little, and before I knew it we were there. It was crazy how many tourists were on the train, but it was nothing compared to the market. I followed the crowd over the bridge, along the street a bit and finally through one of the entrances.

Chatuchak Market has close to thirty different zones, my journey began in section number six. I knew it would be super hot, but I definitely wasn't prepared for this. It reminded me of a skate session near the campus of Hanyang University in Seoul. It was the winter of 2009 and one of the coldest days in my life. I was wearing so many clothes that I could barely move, and you had to move in order to not freeze, but it was actually so cold that I wasn't even able to warm up properly. That day was the last time I went to the sauna, and it was good.

It wasn't actually too bad, and I think that the heat is just part of the market, but what really bugged me was that I felt like the only person who was really really sweating his ass off. I mean, most people had a little stain on the shoulder where the straps of their rucksacks were, but not me, I was wet like a dog, literally dripping from my chin to my shin. Man, I really have to get used to this place soon, I must have looked like I just got off the plane. It was highly embarrassing.

I've read that if you have the chance to go to the market more than once, you should consider portionizing it and stick to a few sections each time. I found that a good idea and spent most of the time in section six, I went to several other ones, too, but for me six was the most fun. Like right at the beginning I saw some Nike Blazers hanging around in a shoe corner and just knew this was gonna be trouble. Negotiating was fun and I ended up buying four t-shirts, a pair of pants, another shirt and two pairs of shoes. Good shit.

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