Bonnie and I wish we were able to post somewhat more frequently and comprehensively, but the frustrations of computer technology render our intentions null and void. I started to write this post (putting up with random shifts of the cursor with predictably chaotic results) when, 200-300 words into this, the whole thing simply disappeared. The wisdom of the Thais comes into play here: Mai Bpen Rai–it doesn’t matter. Be patient. Don’t worry. I, regretably am NOT a Thai, so I am writing this out longhand hoping Bonnie can better cope.
Mai Bpen Rai.
Bangkok is a huge and hugely diverse city. The population is estimated to be 15 million, but how anyone could count this collection of everything from dozens and dozens of high-rise apartments not very far from uncountable thousands of squatter’s shacks, lean-tos and bare shelters is a total mystery. Our neighborhood (LatKrabang in case you want to look on Google Earth) typifies the situation. We are about 15 miles east of downtown Bangkok as the crow flies. If the crow goes by train, cab, or car we’re talking an hour or two at about any time of the day or night. Traffic is horrendous.
Bonnie and I live in student housing. Privately-owned dorm rooms with bath is the best way to describe our digs. (Bonnie included photos in our second post.) Not luxurious, but familiar to any student in a state college or university. There are dozens of these residences with more being built. Although we live on a dead end street, about a mile from the nearest intersecting street (Chalong Krung Road–again for Google Earth fans) our street can look like the busiest street Orangeburg has ever seen on a Friday night. (I would give you the name of our street if it had one. We tell cab drivers to take the first street off Chalong Krung)
Amidst all this bustle and modernity one day I decided to head north on a footpath across the railroad tracks which parallel our nameless street. A different world instantly appeared.
Perhaps 20 yards after crossing the tracks a very basic collection of housing sprinkled with restaurants and stores appeared on my left. On my right was one of the many canals in Bangkok, this one perhaps 50 feet across and thickly overgrown with water plants in most places. The pictures say thousands of words so I’ll skip much description. The elevated foot and motor bike path extends perhaps for the better part of a mile with no other access. The path and everything else is elevated to avoid submerging in the rainy season.
After crossing under one of the major east-west freeways, land access begins to be possible, and cars make their first appearance. Commercial operations also appear. The houses, now higher and drier and accessible now become more permanently built and of obviously much higher value.
How far all this extends, I do not know. After walking another mile or so in the heat of the day, (always 95 plus or minus), time to get back and clean up to get ready for school and take Bonnie to lunch. (Food is a whole other topic.)
One must admire the many Thais whom I met along that walk who almost unfailingly greeted me with a smile and also carefully avoided pushing me off the walkway as they passed–very frequently–on their motorbikes– and happily posed for pictures.
Life isn’t always about comfort and ease.
Mai Bpen Rai.
Pictures will be posted separately due to the usual computer glitches.