Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sites and Smells

Day: 147
Bangkok Day 2
Terrain: Big City
Location: Banglamphu District

We spent today laying out a plan for our travels in Southeast Asia. We needed to do this for two reasons. The first was to figure out when and where we would be during certain stages. The second was to figure out how much money we need to carry with us. ATM’s haven’t caught on in Laos and Cambodia like they have here in Thailand and Vietnam. Luckily Laos will trade in their currency, the Kip, as well as the US Dollar and the Thai Baht. We will end up carrying all the money we need as we roll through Laos in a few weeks time. We shall see how that unfolds.
We are watching BBC news right now and they reported a 7.6 magnitude earthquake near Sumatra. The local news hasn’t reported anything yet.
We were requested to report on the sights and smells in Bangkok. The sights are best left to pictures, but if you can imagine the sidewalks in the town you live in with little tarp tents set up and taken down every night that line all the paths you might get an idea. The interesting thing is we are in a city of 6 million people. The little booths are set up in front of store fronts in the buildings. The store fronts range from jewelry to groceries to a five story department store. The booths have all kinds of things from food to prepare at home, food to eat there, sweets, every item of clothing you can imagine and all the trinkets under the stars.
To imagine the smells you need to take all the sights you have imagined and add a scent to them. Cooking oil, fish, sugary syrups, curries, breads, diesel and 2-cycle engines, sewer, sweat, flowers, tea and coffee, new clothes. It is all there and all at once. It sounds crazy, but you get the scents all at once, yet when you are in the vicinity of a particular scent you are ensconced with that smell. All the others just live as background. The booths block out the street smells when you are inside them, and when you are on the street you are blocked from the booth smells. It isn’t overwhelming, but it is intense.
lah gòrn (good bye in thai)

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