Happy New Year, Thailand (Brought to you subtly by Coke-a-Cola)
I’m Back in Bangkok… but this time for an unprecedented 5-night stay. My flight leaves early morning Wednesday and here, in this bustling maze of tuk-tuk exhaust and street vendors, I will stay til then. I have some goals for this last hurrah, mainly to combat my fear of straying too far from my accommodations. Bangkok is a massive chunk of sinking metropolis. One that, so far, has proved hard to traverse. A big city girl myself, I think back to the days I used the same subway stop (West 4th) for all Manhattan destinations… when the idea of boarding a city bus, in all their mystery, was dismissed immediately. Bangkok looms intimidatingly like New York City used to. These next 5 days will be urban therapy and a test of my recently honed skill of acclimation. A spatial spazz, this ought to prove interesting. My sites and destinations mapped on a silly cartoonish tourist map, tonight I simply rest. With the recently released toxins of my Swedish massage swishing about my body, it’s a night of internet, laundry and strolling aimlessly.
I feared finding a cheap room during the Songkran Festival, the Thai new year, but I got a bed at the cheapest place in town (120 baht a night!) with no problem. Songkran is a festive time akin to Halloween in its good-natured street ambushes. But no shaving cream or eggs, the 3-day celebration is all about water. Water is believed to wash away bad luck. What began as a Buddhist tradition to honor elders is now an organized street celebration, complete with closures, sponsors, fines for pegging moving motorists, initiatives to stay sober, etc. Flags and decorations are all around my guesthouse’s vicinity, the ol’ Khaosan road, where the festival is celebrated with much vigor (although apparently second to Chiang Mai). I’ve already had a Super-Soaker playfully aimed in my direction at the bus station this morning and was squirt by a young woman in her vintage clothing/records store but the festival officially begins tomorrow. I look forward to this fitting end to my journey here in Southeast Asia. Within the first couple of days of the Buddhist calendar year 2552, I head back to Gregorian times. Back to America.