Wow. Bangkok is the real deal. No more gentle Bali, or sterile Singapore, I have arrived in Thailand’s capital and they meant it when they named it BANGkok.
After a lovely day in the Thai Airways Orchid Lounge/Singapore airport, I sort of expected to hit Bangkok running. Sadly my forward progress was impeded by the loss of my luggage. In yet another example of the silver lining that is my existence, my seat neighbor on the plane, Marc, offered to help me deal with my lack of belongings. Marc is an American who has lived in Thailand for 12 years.
Without his Thai language skills and amazing generosity of time, I may very well still be in the Bangkok airport trying to figure out if my luggage ventured on to China or Colorado. Marc invited me to his home for dinner and to meet his wife and the rest of their household, which included their beautiful daughter and two pet squirrels.
Marc went so far as to make sure I learned how to navigate the sky train and escorted me to my hotel making certain I was settled in a safe and reasonable spot. Once again I am floored by the kindness, generosity and selflessness of people.
The next morning I decided to venture to Chatuchak, the weekend market. Some friends in Bali suggested I pay it a visit and I am a huge fan of local markets so I jumped the train and found my way north. The weekend market is huge. In fact huge is grossly inadequate as far as descriptions go. There are hundreds, thousands of stalls, arranged in a labyrinth that no cartographer would dare to try and decipher. The stalls range from cabinet-size holes to grocery store sized spaces, hawking everything from used tennis shoes to pigmy heads.
I was operating on about three hours sleep and so I was off my game. Had I been in possession of all my faculties I would have shopped like you wouldn’t believe. Alas, in my weakened state I limped away with only one skirt and a perfunctory knowledge of what I need to obtain the next time I find myself in Bangkok over a weekend.
Sunday night I decided to hit the night market. Not that I hadn’t had my fill of markets for the day, but I wasn’t really sure where else to venture to and it was only one train stop away. I should tell you now about how I chose a hotel to stay in. For many weeks I kept searching for Bangkok hotel. On each occasion I would spend an hour or so researching only to not feel quite sure about a place and decide to postpone my search for a later time. The main reason behind this is that I had NO idea which part of town to stay in.
Sure I had a Lonely Planet guide and I had asked a few friends, but my real fear was picking a hotel that was smack dab in the middle of Bangkok’s go-go dancing, gender-bending, sex district. Miraculously, I chose a hotel that is very nice, affordable and in a respectable neighborhood (photo is from the rooftop pool where I did a sunset practice), alas my outing to the night market lead me straight into the seedier part of town.
In the interest of keeping my PG rating I will not detail to list of available services here, but I will let you know that there is a whole world out there I knew nothing about and it includes sporting goods, projectiles and in some case Siamese twins.
I walked home alone from the market and was overcome with sadness and loneliness. I felt so far away from home and realized that no one in the world knew where I was - an indescribably scary feeling. That night I didn't sleep. It was the first time in months that I had nightmares and woke up panicked. Perhaps it is just my mind prepping me for the meditation of the weeks to come.
Monday was yet another embassy day, although this time a much more successful one. I took a yoga class in the morning and ended my day with a visit to the Red Cross headquarters for the afternoon snake show. They raise and milk venomous snakes here to make anti-venom. Now I don’t really mind snakes, but I must admit I was not super comfortable with my proximity to various hooded, striped and striking reptiles. Something about black on yellow…kill a fellow kept running through my mind.
For my last day in Bangkok I met up with Meaghan who contacted me after finding this website from a Google search for Vipassana retreats. Meaghan kindly offered to show me around Bangkok. She guided me down to the river where we took a water taxi to the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, then to Wat Phrar Kaew and the Grand Palace, where we saw the Emerald Budha.
Tonight I am busy trying to get something on the website to hold your attention for the next two weeks as tomorrow I check into the silent retreat. No phone, no Internet, no camera, not even pen and paper. For the next 12 days I will be completely offline.
Who knows what battles my mind and I will endure these next several days. Who knows just how intense this Rumble in the Jungle will be. All I know for sure is that I feel compelled once again to do something and since compulsion has been the propelling factor behind much of my trip… I figure that is a good sign.
As I am trying my damndest to sit still for hours at a time I invite you over these next two weeks to find moments of stillness in your days. Find time to reflect and explore. Go within. And if you get a chance, send some positive vibes to towards the jungle of Thailand.
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