Mild weather, early mornings, street food, and markets. That just about sums up the first week here. In that time I’ve also met some new friends, connected with friends of friends from Chicago, and played saxophone with three different bands.
It’s amazing how upon return to this city (my 3rd time here) you find yourself back in the swing of a big city, but always stare in wonder at the sheer size of the city, the number of markets, and the rampant consumerism that consumes not only the tourists, but the locals. Where in the US you wouldn’t debate paying $20 for a decent shirt from a department store, here you agonize over paying $6 for the same shirt off of someone on the street (I did, and I bought it).
Everyone in this town is selling, scheming, working, virtually 24 hours a day. Whatever you want, you’ll find it.
One of the blessings of jet lag this time around has been the fact that I’ve been waking up early. My girlfriend, Suzanne, and I have been up around 5AM almost every day, which has lead to some interesting adventures.
Chinatown in Bangkok is a giant maze of consumerism on its own, however, before 7AM enterprising sellers set up shop on the streets and alleyways in front of those Chiatown shops. Selfie sticks, electronics, jewelry, motorcycle patches, clothes, backpacks, all the things you find on the street elsewhere are here, for 1/2 the price. Just as fast as these merchants set up, they tear down. Once the sun starts coming up they pack up and leave, only to start over the next day. It’s one of our favorite spots to walk, buy and sightsee so far.
We’ve also been logging some miles on the streets.
One of my favorite ways to see a new place is by attacking the pavement on foot. No tuk-tuk’s, no taxis, only subways and buses when the legs get too tired. This way you get to see what’s down that dark alleyway, stumble upon a street filled with nothing but adult novelties and electronics, and walk down a 1/2 mile stretch of alleyways with Thai men taking apart, greasing, and re-assembling decades old car engines.
Aside from the wandering I’ve also been seeking out the music opportunities mentioned above. I’ll dedicate a complete post to that later – music is strangely intertwined, and separate from these travel adventures. As a musician you can almost completely remove yourself from the context of where you are once the notes start flowing.
I’ll post pictures and add links to this post when I can, slow internet is plaguing me so far, but I wanted to send a quick update and some introductory activities and thoughts.