Colorful Chairs

Before I start, here are a few things about Thailand.

When you look at pictures of the beaches the skies are always blue, but the truth is that most of the times the skies are grey. At sunny days the sun is fiery and it’s tough to walk outside.

The second thing is that from our short time spent there it seems to me as if gender roles do not apply to the Thais, from the aspect of clothes or professions. We saw women working at construction, and men dressed in feminine clothes. On the other hand it is a very superficial observation and I don’t really understand what’s going on there from the aspects of social status, salaries, domestic violence etc. I know there is a big deal of prostitution and sex tourism, so I guess it’s not all good.

The third thing is that most working people I saw looked professional at whatever they are doing, regardless of how small or “inferior” their job was (and I don’t really believe that any job is inferior). It made me feel ashamed of myself, for all the days I’ve worked in restaurants and believed that I deserved to do something more glamorous. It’s not about lowering the ambitions but more about being really present in whatever it is I’m doing, even though I would rather be somewhere else.

We left the island the same way we got there. When the pickup truck came to pick us up there was just a family of indifferent Frenchmen in there, and it filled up as we went on. On the way to the docks we said goodbye to the jungle with the green leaves and the red ground, the town, the elephants. Throughout the ride an American guy with a grey beard that looked like The Dude from The Big Lebowski sat next to us, and held a big guitar case that he almost dropped all the time. While we waited for the ferry we had fried bananas and iced coffee, and looked at the rain. We said goodbye to the Dude and went to the boat together with many Asian families, Frenchmen, and a group of loud Italians that looked like the Sopranos and drank espresso from disposable cups. The ferry began to move as the rain stopped and we saw the island going farther and farther away, until we stoped again with a creak and went down with our heavy bags to the station, where we waited with the woman with the frogs-shoes to the bus back to Bangkok. We traveled again through Chantabury and Trat, through the high mountains with their peaks in the clouds and through the forests and the villages. We stopped again at the same station and spoked with Tom, who also went back that day, and he talked mostly about his digestive system and how much he wants to get back to the Khaosan and eat at Burger Ranch. There was heavy traffic when we arrived at Bangkok so it took a while. The bus had a small TV set and they showed American Sniper, and afterwards some strange locals music videos.

We finally arrived at 7 PM and looked for a hotel in the pouring rain, and after we’ve been through a few places we chose a small hotel that looked clean. The room was small and cute and we were very hungry, so after we settled down we went back to the street and had phad-thai with shrimp and spring rolls that we bought from a young woman with a booth, and then got a yummy coconut ice cream that was served inside the coconut itself. I was glad to come back there. The days at the island were wonderful and fantastic and the nights were dark and quiet, and together with the beaches and the grey skies with the islands in the distance came also a feeling of loneliness. The Khaosan, on the other hand, is so noisy you can hardly even think, and you don’t need to go too far to find a good place to eat or drink.

There was one thing that troubled me on Thailand, and it was the feeling that I’ve missed a big part of the nature of the country. At no point I got the chance to talk with locals, and I’ve felt as if everything I see is mostly some kind of a scenery set for tourists. I do not really know anything about how it’s like to live there, are the people happy, how are they truly feeling about the many tourists. There was an open and friendly vibe, but also something impenetrable. And maybe, we didn’t tried hard enough.

The next morning we walked out of the Khaosan and had strong and tasty iced coffee from a woman who worked with one hand and held a baby with the other one, and afterwards ate noodles soup with crabs at a small restaurant. A tall guy with white clothes and many necklaces caught us in the street and offered to take us to the floating market, but we refused because he didn’t seem reliable. We did want to get out of the area and see the city so we went to the MBK. It is a big and colorful mall with six floors that some of them are actually a crowded marketplace. The place just opened as we arrived and it filled up with colorful lights. We didn’t took much money since we came there mostly to look. We sat at a cafe with many crazy pastries in different colors and tried some kind of a black bread roll with a lot of sugar and butter and then kept strolling between tiny and unique clothes for children, shoes made out of buttons only, stores that only sale scarves, incense and perfumes, cheap or expensive jewelry, high and low fashion. A huge department store captured us inside and I was very enthusiastic from the stationary part, where I bought funny pens and a bunch of stuff I don’t need. The entrances and exits of the building are in the tops of bridges that are spread upon the highways, where the bus stops are. We got another iced coffee from a middle-aged man who ran a booth in the main street with his daughter, and came back to the Khaosan with bus number 15. usually each bus has a ticket collector but in certain days and hours the trip is of free, and until now I’m not sure when and why. We spent the rest of the day lazily, between beers at the pool and strolling outside. We bought some clothes and earings in the streets and when we got hungry we sat at a phad thai resturant with colorful chairs.

At night I dreamt about a young girl with a death obsession, wars that I document or bystand, and a mail I get from the job I just left before the trip and it says that I need to go back to work.

We began the last day in Thailand with noodles soup with some weird shaped things inside, tofu, meat slices, crunchy stuff, a mix of tasty and unfamiliar things. The place was ran by women only who also took care of a toddler, that walked around between the tables or played on the floor. After we had coffee at the woman with the baby in her hands we took a bus to the MBK again with a little more money, because we needed some specific things. We sat at Pink Note cafe downstairs, had coffee and tried more strange pastries. On the bus back I told Roni that it’s been a week since we arrived at Thailand, but it feels like a month. We decided to celebrate it with lunch where we ate when we just arrived, at the alley with the middle-aged couple. We drank again the orange ice tea that they make and ate rice and noodles with pork, and went on to explore the city by foot. We found a place that looked like spices and dried leaves shop but had a comics department from some reason. We reached at a park by the river and heard music played by a young man and woman who sat on the grass and played on home-made string instruments. Aside from them there was an old lady who looked at them while a little child collected white flowers for her, and a western man dressed in sherwals who was meditating.

At the afternoon we came back to the pool, talked with our families and looked for a hotel in Hanoi, our next destination.

At the evening, after we’ve been through the whole area, we sat at the hotel’s pub and drank mojito. Next to us sat two young German girls that told us it was also their last evening at Bangkok, because they are going back home tomorrow. I thought how fun it is to be on our side, before everything. How many things had happened until now, and our trip is just beginning.

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