Published: October 25th 2011October 25th 2011
Buildings of Wat Phra Kaew
Bangkok, back in Bangkok after 30 years, back to my place of birth. Despite the fact that this is the country I was born in and where I spent part of my youth in, I have never been particularly keen on re-visiting it. Thailand is too touristic for me, or at least that is what my impression was before coming, and still is now that I am actually here. It isn't that I mind about the other tourists, I am not a travel snob who thinks off the beaten track is better than a beach in Thailand. No it is more the fact that because Thailand is and has been on the tourist radar for such a long time there isn't really anything new to discover here. There are so many stories about this country, so many programs about it, every other travel magazine has a feature on it, I have seen so many pictures of it that I can dream about it and there is no reason to go here in person. Every beach has been photographed countless of times, every temple, every jungle track, every hill tribe has been chewed over by generations of travellers. And that is my
Statue in Wat Phra Kaew
problem with this country, I like to discover the unexpected, go to a place I know little about and Thailand, let's face it, doesn't really have that anymore.
But that said, I am here and it is of course beautiful and I am enjoying it. I am enjoying the ease of travel, the relaxing nature of life, and yes I too appreciate the fantastic beaches.
Foremost I came back to revisit some of the places of my youth. However 30 years is a long time and I quickly discovered that the Bangkok of my memory is not the Bangkok of the here and now. The appartment we used to live in doesn't exist anymore, the school I went to has moved to I don't know where, the roads I walked have changed unrecognisably. Bangkok is for me just another city, I get no fuzzy feelings when I walk its streets.
The memories will remain memories, there Bangkok will remain stuck in time, idealic as youth memories often are. There I will run down my Soi and play with the children of our neighbours. There I will terrorize our poor landlord, by going to places we were not
allowed to go, or by accidently burning part of his furniture.
As for the rest of Thailand. Well in the weekends we used to go to Pattaya, but I will not even venture there these days, since it hasn't got the best of reputations. But back then it was a nice beach, not too crowded and in easy reach of Bangkok. The car journeys down were often eventful, like the one time when we were overtaken by a car tyre. As it turned out, it was our own back tire that had come loose and was rolling past us! Yes, those were the days.
On the longer holidays we often went up north, to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, on winding roads some paved, some not, where every curve was crowded with spirit houses. Up north I will still go, but I have to wait for the floods to recede. Instead I have moved south, to the islands, of which I have no memories since we never went that far south back in the day.
I have been relaxing on Ko Pha-Ngan, with a friend, and amongst the youthful revelers of today, reminding me just how old
Scenes from the Ramaya
I am. When you talk to a girl who has never heard of Knightrider and asks you if it is a show from before 1988, you know enough! But come on, we are talking about Knightrider, with David Hasselhoff and his trusty talking car KIT!!
With the monsoon dragging on it looks like I might be around these parts for a while. More beaches, more sun-tans and more uncomprehending faces when I talk about obscure eighties shows. I think I will be drinking a lot of Chang to compensate.
There are more photos below