Nonna Iole and I escaped the dust storm that swept the East Coast of Australia and wreaked havoc on all sorts of transport just two days before our departure and arrived in Bangkok with no delay and no hassle. I accompanied my Italian mum half way home to help her change planes and I carved out a two-day mini holiday as a treat. We arrived late at night; I accompanied mum to her gate, entrusted her to a couple of fellow travellers from the northern Italian town of Cuneo (honeymooners, I guess) and I headed out.
I am staying at the mid-market Luxx Hotel, in the salubrious (western end) of Silom Road. I have lots to see and only two days to spare so I set my alarm clock for 5.40am and go to bed. In the morning, I scoff down an OK breakfast and I am out. The city smells of chicken gutted and cooked in the streets. Stripped of an aircon shield, I am dripping sweat within minutes. I crave another coffee and I wish that the thunderstorm the air is pregnant with, would come.
When I reach the ferry terminal, everything is murky: the sky, the river and the posh hotels dotting its banks. For a while, I lose myself watching the huge weed-rafts floating downstream, then the high-pitched whistle of the mooring attendant announces my ferry and I hop on. I tell my destination to an efficient staffer, who shakes her Hello Kitty metal change purse to announce herself to travellers and sell them tickets and a few minutes later she taps me on the shoulder to make sure I alight at the right pier.
My first stop is Pak Khlong Talat, the city’s twenty-four-hour flower and vegetable market. My appearance and my camera attract the locals’ attention. The only other “farang” on the scene is an American woman carrying a baby, which explains why she was up at six. I take pictures of garlic, chrysanthemums and rose bunches carefully wrapped in old newspapers, and of a lovely lime seller, who approached me with the pretext of showing off his fruit, while he is obviously hoping for a photo. I wish I could speak enough Thai to make conversation or to compliment him on his produce, at least. I don’t speak any so a smile is all I have to offer. I stop to watch women making flower garlands, cabbage being delivered, onions sold and stall holders having breakfast; some having a nap. In the drab light, the orange monks going for their alms run stand out as if neon lit. It is a moving feast in the making and a great spectacle.
In my next post: temples, temples and more temples!
See the amazing beauty of Bangkok temples in my next post: