Gloomy weather in the City of Angels

The sun has been avoiding our fair city of Bangkok lately. It’s hard to wake up in the morning when you’re use to the sunlight busting through the curtains and forcing you to wake up. Clouds have been a more common site with a sprinkling of rain now and again.

Last night I saw an errie glow of the moon behind a veil of clouds. The moisture in the air was all around me and I could feel the weight of the air around me. Of course, with that amount of water in the air, the humidity is very high and rain is always emminent. It’s been raining practically ever night and sometimes in the afternoons as well.

The only good thing about all this gloom is that it’s not so damn hot at the momment. Muggy? Yes! Stuffy? Yes! Rainy? Yes. But, it seems that we are having a bit of that rain that is implied of when we say “It’s the rainy season.”

I can’t say that gloomy, cloudy humid weather is any better than hot, sunny humid weather but it is a change from the normal sun, sun and more sun that characterizes Thailand, especially the city of Bangkok. Cheers to you fellow Bangkokians and here’s to sleeping in late on the upcoming weekend and cloudy morning skies.

Bangkok mailboxes reveal Bangkok-centrism

Every time I see a mailbox around Bangkok I chuckle to myself. At first, I thought that there was nothing special about the rectangular red boxes that are used by Thailand’s Postal service. Upon closer inspection I found a rather comical insight to the way Bangkokians view themselves in relation to the world.

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And there it is plain as can be, Thais really believe the capital to be the center of the universe. In America, the mail slots are typically labeled “stamped” and “metered,” referring to the separation of stamped mail and metered mail, but in Bangkok the separation of “Bangkok” and everywhere else (“other places”) is more important.

Perhaps Bangkok really is the center of the Thai universe though. The saying “All roads lead to Rome” was true of the Roman Empire and “All roads lead to Bangkok” could also be said of Thailand. Bangkok is the largest city in the country by far and is also the political, economic and social center of Thailand. It is the hub of the country and populated by approximately 7 million people. Practically everything can be found or done in Bangkok.

Bangkokians know the importance of their own city and as the mailboxes reflect, they truly believe that Bangkok is the center of the Thai universe. When all is considered the Bangkokians are probably right, there really are only two categories “Bangkok” and “other places.” There is no other place on Earth like Bangkok and the world really couldn’t handle two Bangkok’s anyways. Perhaps that is why despite all of Bangkok’s vices you really can’t help but love the City of Angels in the Land of Smiles. 

Monday August 20th declared holiday!!

As if there haven’t been enough Monday holidays lately, the Thai  government has turned this coming Monday into a spontaneous day off. The reason is to encourage workers in Bangkok who are registered to vote outside of Bangkok to return to their home provinces over the weekend. They hope that more people will vote during the Sunday August 19th elections.

Whether or not this ploy will work or not is yet to been seen. Chatuchak Market seems noticable devoid of Bangkokians and was overflowing with foreigners instead. Several merchants commented on the lack of Thai shoppers. This could also be influenced by the end of the month syndrome. Symptoms include multiple long weekends, shopping sprees, empty wallet and budgeting for cheap meals.

I, for one, will not be doing my duty as I will not be going to Songhkla (several of my cousins are in the same boat here). Perhaps I need to think further ahead next time and do the absentee ballot. Oh well. Instead, I will mark this election day by attending the long awaited Gwen Stefani concert. Awesome!!!

House guests get in the way of blogging

Since my last post in July I have had little sleep and have spent too many hours driving around the country of Thailand. Several longtime friends from the US are visiting me and I have become a personal tour guide for the moment. I have managed to squeeze all of the my regular classes into as few days as possible so that I could take 2 three-four day weekends (Mother’s Day holiday helped too!). I was in charge of all the travel and accommodation arrangements, so a lot of decisions rested with me through the Northern Thailand/Khao Yai trip and the Southern /Islands trip.

I had sent an itinerary prior to my friends arrival in Bangkok according to what they had emailed me before about their preferences towards travel destinations, activities, and cost. Mostly they wanted a bit of sun, culture and good food. In Thailand, these three things are found in abundance, so it was a matter of narrowing down the choices. Of course, my own preferences to activities were also factored in as I created the five day/four night Northern Thailand trip, including Chiang Mai, and the four days/four nights Southern Thailand (Koh Phangan and Koh Tao) trip.

These trips will be the basis of most of my travel blogs to come as I took many photos on the trips and learned more about the different destinations as I become the “tour guide” rather than the tourist. Sometimes I asked locals to find out more information or to help answer the questions of my friends. It was a learning experiences and I quite enjoyed it. The only downside to the entire experience is having to keep your energy up, getting enough sleep and eating properly so that your body doesn’t get worn down from being constantly on the go.

Despite all the extra hassle of managing the travels of yourself and 5 or 6 other people, it was definitely worth it to have the opportunity to see more of Thailand’s, experience new things and meet interesting people. Coming back to dirty, congested Bangkok is always a double-edged sword as working in Bangkok funds all of my travels quite nicely. Luckily the Thai government has decided to have the third long weekend in four weeks due to the major elections accoring next weekend (August 18-20) in an effort to encourage people to go to their hometowns and vote. All that really means to me is that I get an extra day to recuperate after sending my friends off at the airport and maybe being able to spend a leisurely weekend in and around Bangkok for a change.