Friday, May 23, 2014

Bangkok Update

It's Saturday morning, May 24, 2014.  I spent 12 hours out and about yesterday in Bangkok.  I saw no military, trains are running as usual and the malls and streets are crowded with people going about their daily business.

Overall I had a great day.  Yes, I'm disappointed in no television.  I have limited television in Myanmar so access to more channels (not in Hindi) is a perk of coming to Bangkok.   My choices are CNN, BBC or staring at the military emblems on all Thai stations.  I'm not sure how my watching Top Chef Texas could endanger the temporary government.  That's a small issue though, since everything else seems to be running smoothly.

Having said that, I tend to head out early and return early in the evening. The curfew has not cramped my style.  That can't be said for tourists (and locals, trying to make a living) on the many businesses which operate at night.  The large mall near my hotel was closing at 8:00 p.m. instead of 10:00 p.m. to allow people time to clean up and get home before curfew started.  Tourists who come for the nightlife at places like Soi Cowboy are screwed.  Which is kind of funny when you think about why they go to places like Soi Cowboy in the first place.

I'm now going to address things that annoy me that have absolutely nothing to do with the current coup.  Some of the issues aren't even specific only to Bangkok.  Brace yourself, here's my cranky rant:

  • Cell phones.  I'm enjoying living in a country where cell phones and SIM cards are so expensive that they're not used by every resident.  In Bangkok, like every city in the USA, people have and use their cell phones.  Constantly.  Why should I care?  Because they use them in public while moving.  If you are walking in a mall, street or public transport station, be prepared for me to yell "BOO!" in your face when you come within 1 foot of me and are totally aware of anyone near you.  If you happen to be so engrossed in your texting that you stop directly in front of the entrance to an escalator, I'm going to gently move you out of the way.  Watching people text and walk through the BTS station was like watching human bumper cars.  People bouncing off each other as they texted while ignoring their surroundings.
  • Motorcycles on sidewalks.  I was almost run over when I started to walk from the inside of a sidewalk to the curb - by a motorcycle coming up behind me.  I get that Bangkok traffic is bad but stay the hell off the sidewalks!
  • No big shoes.  I'm 5'10".  I wear size 10 shoes.  I'm significantly larger than most Asians, including Thai people.  I have foot issues which makes it challenging to find shoes even in the US.  In Bangkok, pretty much impossible.  The irony, because many people wear "slipper" or sandals here, there are lots of styles of shoes that would be perfect.  They just don't have them in my size.  I went to more than 20 shoe stores yesterday in Bangkok.  I came home with only the shoes I went in with.  I'm hoping for better luck at Chatachuk market today, where I bought my current shoes.  I plan to buy them out if they have them in my size.
  • Subway behavior.  This is something else that happens worldwide and in many ways, Bangkok is better than many places.  Having said that, why do people get on a train and immediately park themselves in front of the door instead of moving toward the center of the car?  Do they not realize there are twenty people behind them trying to get on?  And what's up with pushing onto the train as soon as the door opens instead of waiting for people to get off?  BTS, the Bangkok Skytrain, which is fabulous, has painted arrows to show where to stand to get on the train - to the side, allowing passengers to disembark first.  Yesterday, one family who I'm guessing were Chinese tourists, parked directly in front of where the door would open.  About ten others, including me, were standing in the designated spots to the side.  A guard nicely asked them to move.  Three times.  They didn't.  And when the trains arrived and the doors opened they shoved people trying to get off out of the way.
Ok, those are my pet peeves.  After 12 hours out and about in Bangkok, that's a pretty small list.  Thanks for letting me vent.  I hope if you're reading this on your cell phone, you don't run into someone.

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