The surreality of the familiar


Touched down in Bangkok the other day for the first time in 25 years. The smells—that odd mix of coriander and sewage—just as I remember, and just as intoxicating. But in my old neighbourhood the city has erupted upwards, turning to chrome or ribbons of concrete. Walked from Asoke to the Chao Phraya River, through the new glistening shopping district, then the ancient storefronts of golden Buddhas beyond that. As I neared the temple complexes along the river, bypassing the fast-talking tuk-tuk drivers under the spires of Wat Ratchabophit, the old Bangkok of my childhood sprang up and welcomed me, that blur of candy-coloured traffic.

One response to “The surreality of the familiar

  1. geoffrey goddard

    hi nick, if you like a long stroll through bangkok, and i have been enjoying them since 1978, start with a meal at the muslim restaurant on charoen krung (river side, a few steps from intersection with silom), where the oxtail soup is to die for and the massaman gai is not bad either, then take a #1 or #75 bus from the stop up charoen krung a bit and alight after it crosses the canal. make your way to the chinatown end of sampeng lane and walk it all the way to pahurat. (not recommended if you are claustrophobic) there are excellent indian restaurants in the area around the sikh gurdwara at the end of sampeng lane and if you’ve got enough energy you can continue your walk, via wat suthat, and the brahmin temple, to be entertained by the backpacker crowd at khao san road. then enjoy a soothing view of the city from the big wide chao phraya express tourist boats that ply the route between phra arthit and taksin bridge.
    it’s a great way to get sweaty in the city of angels, spiritual and ephemeral.

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