Monday, November 20, 2006

Bhuddas and brothels -- three days in Bangkok

Hot. Steamy hot. Humid. Garbage, air pollution, people selling crap in the streets, all wearing face masks against the smells. Taxi drivers who cheat on fares. Shop keepers who follow you through the store, insisting you buy something. Crowds of people. People shoving. People shouting. People walking. Smoking. Coughing. Shouting. Busy. Hot. Steamy hot.

The Bridge on the River Kwai. The King of Thailand made a deal with the Japanese during WWII, thinking it beneficial to his people. The Japanese forced labor from starving prisoners of war - Brits, Australians, mostly, a few Canadians, some US soldiers. The museum focusing on this sorry history has on display the diary of a dying Dutch soldier. His drawings of both POWs and the Japanese captors showed compassion toward everyone. He wrote in his diary that he had no room for hate. He could not hate his captors, and as I read his words, I wept.

These creatures stand guard at the Grand Palace.

Hot, steamy hot, on the river, at the floating market. She's selling vegetables from her canoe. Another woman sells sticky rice with cold mango - it was incredibly refreshing. People washing dishes in the river. Hot. All the guides are named Nancy. 200 guides from this one company, all named Nancy.

The Reclining Bhudda is too long for my camera. He is over 40 feet long, and his face and posture serene. I cannot capture his essence. I am in awe of his grace.

Three days in Bangkok, with jet lag, and no sunscreen, and no hat. Hot, steamy, gorgeous, horrible, kinky, layered, textured, exotic, fragrent, stinky, spiritual, graceful, Thailand. I can't wait to go back.


Mary said...

Wow! I picked a great day to stop by. Great post. I feel like I did have a quick trip to Thailand.

Frederick said...

Great Pictures, thanks for sharing. I remember from my stay in South Korea how chaotic it can get. Thailand sounds fun.

robin andrea said...

It looks so ecstatically colorful there. I'm glad computers can't convey the smells. You definitely capture something essential about Bangkok with these photos and your poetic descriptions.

Anonymous said...

Wow, indeed! I got chills reading your post. Amazing. The reclining Buddha is so beautiful.

The Fat Lady Sings said...

I never made it to Thailand when I was living in Japan. 20 years ago it had a very unsavory reputation due to the pervasive sex trade. Sailors who frequented its brothels compared Thailand to Subic in P.I. - with the extra added ‘attraction’ of children – something I found horrific. Korea had some of the same esthetic – a wondrous cachaphony of sight, sound and smell – but not the brothels. Thailand now stands alone in offering the very worst in sexual tourism. There is much beauty though. Brothels aside – the culture is rich and attractive. I can understand you wanting to go back. I wish I could join you. There are still so many places in the world I’ve yet to visit.

SB Gypsy said...


Alicia said...

Incredible - what a trip! Great pictures, too. When David and I were in Bali, we saw those little shrines everywhere, with those purple flowers in them - on the stairs, on the sidewalk, in the street. What an interesting cultural mix.

Glad you're back!

Tina said...

Hot and kinky... as a fellow curly haired girl, I knew immediately that you were referring to your 'do and not a sex position, Diva. So happy to hear that you are back safely and had a great time.
And in reference to the "lady-boys"... it so reminds me of the fabulous (yet now closed, I hear) restaurant in New Orleans called Lady Cheng's on St. Louis Street. Every waiter was a lovely and very, very tiny Hispanic or Asian drag queen. My beloved gay friend Mark (who lived in New Orleans with his partner Chris, who was a native New Orleanian) did not tell me the "waitresses" were lady-boys.... until one asked me in a rather oddly deep voice if I wanted my salad dressing on the side. I raised an eyebrow, and they cracked up laughing. Later, I told our waitress how fabulous her makeup was because... well... it was. He told me he owed it all to the lovely makeup counter at Shiseido. For several yrs, I only wore Shiseido base makeup. Simply flawless.

pekka said...

I wish you were my travel agent!

DivaJood said...

Mary, thanks for the visit. I still have to get my head around the Bhutan part of my trip. That was the main focus.

Frederick, Bangkok was fun, and it wasn't fun. It was chaotic. How so much grace can co-exist with so much seedy shit amazes me.

Robin Andrea, I'm sure someone will figure out a way to convey smells via 'puter one of these days. Yuk.

Karina, The Reclining Buddha was amazing. He's the largest Reclining Buddha. I tried to see the Emerald Buddha as well, but he was getting his clothes changed that day. I swear to god, they change his clothes three times a year: summer, winter, and rainy season clothes. I wonder if he gets a raincoat and umbrella?

TFLS, it still has a seamy underside. Yes, Thailand stands alone in "sex" tourism. Coming home, at Customs at LAX, all the single men returning from Thailand were questioned quite agressivly about their reasons for being there. However, it also has destination hospitals, for medical and cosmetic tourism, and some really great beaches.

SB Gypsy, that's what I said almost every day of my trip. Wow.

Alicia, I'm not exactly back yet. Leaving at the crack of my ass for Chicago tomorrow, then I will really be back on Sunday night. Remember, we gotta go to the movies.

Tina, you are hilarious. And yes, I was referring to my hair - it looked like a brillo pad while I was there. Oh, I wish I'd gone to Lady Cheng's in St. Louis. That would have been hilarious. We never got to a "Lady Boy" Show - they are apparently quite popular with tourists in Bangkok. I will try Shiseido, however I am really loving my Bare Essentiuls mineral makeup.

Pekka, I would be happy to be your travel agent. I have clients all over the world. And I send them all over the world, too. Except for the "sun" destinations, like the Caribbean, Hawaii and Mexico - I don't do those too much.

karena said...

Both the photos and the descriptions are so rich I felt I was there. I cannot wait to see Bhutan.

karena said...

Both the photos and the descriptions are so rich I felt I was there. I cannot wait to see Bhutan.

Comandante Agí said...

Welcome back! Sounds like you have much more to tell. Looking forward to the photos of Bhutan!

Alicia said...

I have heroically held off on seeing "For Your Consideration" waiting for you.

Pete's Blog said...

Great photos jood

Visited Bangkok 20 years ago. Doesn't sound like its changed much - a wild noisy place. Great food.

Its not generally known but more local Asians died building the Burma railway than European prisoners of war. Still this did not lessen their pain.


Anonymous said...

Great shots!

I don't really have anything relevant to add. Just wanted to pop by and wish you and your's a Happy Thanksgiving, Diva.

betmo said...

wow!! sounds hectic. my life is small because i hate to fly. good for you for going. hope you had a nice holiday. bet your baby bean was glad you are back :) welcome back.