Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The predominant sound in the Thai language, which is a tonal one much like Chinese, is "ka" -- or at least, it seems like the predominant sound to my untrained ears. As a result, I feel like I'm surrounded by a huge flock of some exotic species of tropical crow. I can't quite call it a pretty language, but it's certainly mesmerizing.
On my second day in Bangkok, I met another American girl traveling by herself on a ferry-bus down the Chao Praya River. For her, Bangkok was the staging area before she went south to teach English in a city near the Malaysian border. We got along, and hung out together for the next few days until she left. It was interesting to compare perspectives, her in the initial oh-god-what-have-I-done panic of arriving at her work-abroad post, me with my jadedness at the opposite end of the same experience. She hated Bangkok for its servility to the West, which is what I (somewhat guiltily) appreciate about this city.
Despite the wild-eyed craziness of Bangkok, I have managed to find many pockets of peace and tranquility for myself, despite staying just half a block off Khao San Road. On Sunday I took a boat tour on the river, and somehow ended up being the only person on the boat. I've also found a chill little coffee shop nearby; most of the time I am the only person there.
I do have to admit that the tourist trap aspect of Khao San is getting to me a bit. The other night I was walking down a busy side street when a man complimented the tattoo on my back. I thanked him and kept walking. He continued trying to talk to me, until I got a little creeped out and ducked into a shop. When I came out he was still there, and continued following me and trying to talk to me until I turned around and said, "You are following me. Stop it." He left me alone then, but I can't stop thinking about the fact that there are many women out there who will be too clueless, polite, or unaware to face a man like that and tell him outright to leave them alone, and they will be taken in and have devil-knows-what happen to them. The thought of it is chilling.
On Monday I took a cooking class, which was one of the goals I had for Thailand. It was amazing, and I learned a great deal. Overall, I am completely enchanted by Thai food. I have not had a bad meal the whole time I've been in this country, between all the curries and the heaping plates of Pad Thai and the fresh fruit.
Tonight I take an overnight bus, then ferry, down south to Ko Phangan. Stay tuned for updates from tropical paradise. In the meantime, more of my Thailand pictures are up on Flickr.