Thursday, June 15, 2006

Home, home's all deranged...

These days, Bangkok is home.

As we landed at Don Muang Airport for the fifth time on this trip, we knew the drill and it feels great. We know which Customs lines are the shortest, where to get our luggage cart and go to the restroom, how to dodge the dodgy private taxi touts, and we always have directions to our guesthouse in Thai available for the metered taxis. It's easy. It's nice. Familiarity is nice. When you have constant change on perhaps the most constant basis as ever before in your life, you crave easy little pieces that click into place without hassle or thought. And Bangkok always delivers.~> read more

Back again to New Siam Guesthouse we go. Back to our regular room with air con, our locker for 10 baht a day that houses precious purchases and guidebooks, which is locked securely with Andy's new favorite brand of Chinese locks -- purchased at, where else, our favorite grocery/hardware store in our Banglamphu neighborhood of Bangkok.

We've spent two weeks in five visits to Bangkok and carved out a routine that soothes and satisfies. The only normalcy of this trip, besides each other which is questionable at times, entails New Siam, our locker, a trip to the post office to mail things home to the US (mostly purchases I've made, but Andy's caught on to shopping too!), a trip to the grocery/hardware store for replenishing random things like Dove soap and Duracell batteries, a stop at our favorite juice cart for awesome fresh fruit shakes for 20 baht (50 cents can see why we dread Jamba Juice prices) and selling the last country's Lonely Planet guide plus any fiction at our favorite used book store where we know the man and Andy and he a enjoy refined barter with gentle smiles, patience and logic that always ends well.

Then, in the final and favorite leg of our routine, we're off to KC Guesthouse, which Andy and I discovered on our own wandering around one morning in December. It's our favorite place for food in Bangkok. That's saying a lot, I might add, because we adore the food here, but the ladies of KC make a fantastic, mouthwatering, spice-satisfying, "dry" (only a bit of coconut cream and milk) Penang curry that tempts our tummy and curls our toes. We also love their cold drinks, which are always served with a purple orchid, and the pad thai because it comes in a copper skillet and you can watch one of the old ladies make it with love in a primitive outdoor kitchen that clucks with the chatter of matrons -- and the clucks of live birds. Our most favorite waiter is a young Thai male, tall for Asian standards, who's shy, sweet and giggles quietly in the way of the Thais when he forgets something like sugar for our tea or we notice his new haircut. KC has absolutely no atmosphere; like most places in Asia, the worse the atmosphere, the better the food. But it's not about the backdrop, it's about the fact none of this has changed in six months and that pleases us immensely.

Ah, Thailand....this really is our favorite country so far! In some ways, it hasn't gotten its due on the blog because we're frequently in transit here, need to catch up from other countries with poor or expensive internet, or have missed something it offers (like the best food in the entire world!) so we're off treating ourselves immediately instead of blogging. But every time we return, we're happy. The people are kind and un-pushy, and there's a lot of status quo which neither of us appreciated about life before, though we understand its value now.

But even in Bangkok, Andy and I are strangers in a strange land. It's odd to think that if we were Dorothy, we're not sure where we'd click our ruby heels to in request. Yet we're not exactly homeless. I like to think we're travelers (vs. expats vs. backpackers with dread locks who spend more on beer than lodging vs. locals vs. natives). Being travelers means constant transit, most all of which is good but sometimes throws your sense of time and place. When all of your favorite shoes are in storage, you can't drive your Porsche, you have no paycheck, no routine and can't pick up the phone immediately and call whomever you want to just to chat, life is different. In a fantastic, fabled way and in an odd way. Expectations are different too and we often remove them in order to live more in the moment and experience places, people, cultures freely and without prejudice.

In Bangkok, however, we know what to expect--if only for a few days or hours--and we're thankful. While we (and especially I) wanted to go on this trip to experience the unexpected, it's good to have little doses of the common once in awhile so we can better appreciate the unknown. Once upon a time I never believed I'd crave ordinary, but that's the pleasure of the unexpected.


Blogger jskalet said...

tiffany, i'm enjoying your writing so much, makes me feel like i'm there. i will go to the elephant park before i die. love john

9:22 PM  

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