Hmm, I didn’t get into the pool once today, so I guess my vacation is heating up and getting more exciting. We’ve had some very pleasant evenings entertaining Sue and Joss’ friends, one of whom took me out this evening to the Suam Lum Night Bazaar. And tomorrow we’re headed to the beach (Huahin) for the weekend. I’ve no idea if there will be internet connection there.
Still, one of the more fun things I’ve done since I’ve been here has been a simple walk – from the Ari BTS to Victory Monument BTS near where Sue works – two miles on back roads through neighborhood streets and under freeways. Not many people walk if they can help it here in Bangkok, so the streets are rather treacherous for pedestrians: sidewalks are few and if they exist they are nearly always narrow minefields of rubble and uneven concrete squares. Strollers are practically impossible, so Joss generally carries Nabi Grace in a front pack and holds a large umbrella – not just for shade but to keep cars from coming too close. Sue says that once while she was pregnant, a passing car hit her with its rearview mirror! (Note the stray dogs in the background – we saw lots and lots of stray dogs on this walk. I’ve heard that stray dogs are an indication of a prosperous country; in poorer countries, like neighboring Cambodia, dogs are likely to be seen as free steaks.)
I love to see regular daily life and the streets where people live and work. The streets were actually much busier than this, but I didn’t dare step out when there was passing traffic. You can see though, that besides the girl in the blue school uniform in the front that the other two pedestrians are dressed in black to mourn the king’s sister.
Part of the walk was under a freeway, which shaded a dusty narrow park with a dirt “soccer field” and playground. It wasn’t your ideal image of a children’s play place with mangy dogs lying about and freeway fumes settling on everything. Still, it was the one moment I could let down my guard and really observe the traffic, because the sidewalk was wide and shaded. I know the picture is small, but can you make out the figures on the first motorcycle? It’s a woman riding with her child standing up between her legs in front. That’s a very common way for children to ride with their parents on motorcycles here. In fact, I saw one dad bringing home three schoolgirls: the smallest standing in front and two clutching him from behind. I know it seems ungodly dangerous, but I’ve never seen an accident… and because there’s always so much traffic nobody is ever going very fast.
And finally, Victory Monument. There is a market on every corner, day and night. It is a central transportation hub, hence all the buses on the left. Aren’t the bright-colored taxis great?