Monday, September 12, 2011

For the love of mopeds

I am in Bangkok, where I have a day in transit on my journey to Ndola. I arranged this stop-over because the coming flight to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, is a bit of a milk run taking in both Addis Ababa and Harare. A very long flight. All the same, on landing in Bangkok last night I wondered why I hadn't just pushed through. But not this morning.

What a sensational place this is.

The heat. And yet the men don't wear shorts -- only women and Swedish tourists do. Anyone who knows me, knows also that I am easily identifiable as not-Thai. But sweat is clearly another identifier. The locals are actually wearing cardigans today. I am not.

Cleverly camouflaged as a Swede

The girls, or rather the men who keep them. This has been less of a problem than I thought -- only a couple of street hawkers and my concierge have so far given me that dreadful wink, and in the case of the latter it was rather comically done. I was very tired, it was very late. 'What are you doing tonight?' he asked, with my backpack on his shoulder. Then he winked with both eyes, and in heavily inflected English and with a lisp no less said, 'I'll take care of anything else you need.' We both knew it was not his best pitch ever.

The powerlines. These are beautiful but deeply troubling creations. What I love is the way they are overtaking, almost as vines, the old apartment housing in the Silom area I'm staying in.

The dark, narrowing alleyways. Which aren't at all malicious, because at the end of each is an open area with a golden, illuminated Budha drawing the eye. And then you turn the corner to this:

And, of course, those mopeds. And these really are wonderful, because they tell you where to go. Simply put, anywhere you can cross the road safely is the right direction.