and final thoughts on myanmar
05.13.2011 - 05.14.2011
i was quite overwhelmed by bangkok upon my arrival. but to be honest, after our travails in myanmar, coming back to bangkok (civilization, good food options, not so much dirt and dust, and cars more recent than 1984 that don't expel black fumes, more opportunities for a/c) seemed like a blessing. not that i didn't enjoy myanmar. it was an amazing experience. i saw so many things that just were, well, surreal. sitting next to a monk in an internet cafe was one. the street flooding and people just walking through shin deep filthy water on the sidewalk, people carrying baskets and big! bags on their heads, fake 7-elevens since the real ones aren't allowed, squat toilets. many of the people were friendly. some were not especially, but perhaps just a language and cultural barrier.
as i mentioned the fake 7-11 - there aren't any chain restaurants or stores at all. there are some myanmar versions, like j'donuts (kinda like dunkin donuts) and parisian cake cafe. but the fake 7-11 in bagan even had a photocopied (and pixelated) banner with the store's logo. but the inside was definitely not a 7-11...
no one ever mentioned anything political, obviously and never did we. but on our taxi ride back to the airport i noticed more than i had before the military men standing on streets corners, outside fancy residences, near the park, near the lake holding their huge guns. and then there were stickers on people's cars or taxis of guns with a big red "x" over them. i'm not here to make any statements either way, but definitely something that strikes an emotional chord.
but yes. back to bangkok we are. we are in a lovely hotel with a pool, a/c, shuttle service to things in town, fast internets, and a volume control in the bathroom! the first night we just enjoyed the hotel and some nearby food and a trip to a real 7-11 to stock up on goodies. 7-11's here are like starbucks back home - they are on every street corner. yesterday, after an attempt at a nearby internet cafe (the power went out twice, hence i was only able to upload a few photos, whilst sitting next to a 10 yr old girl playing grand theft auto), we headed to mbk which is a big mall. sounds lame i know. but this mall is biiiig. like 6 or more floors. plus i was able to get a sim card for my phone so i have a new thai phone number temporarily. mostly i got it for internet service for when i'm traveling. but if you feel so inclined, the number is +66 0845675028. we then went to another mall nearby called siam center. this was the fancy mall, also like 7 floors. they have an swanky imax theater with a chandelier and aquariums around the food court. we met up with friends of flo's at a restaurant in the ritzy part of bangkok, thonglo. we all headed to a lounge nearby to meet up with some more of their friends. the lounge looked kind of like a modern castle with blue velvet couches ha. and then we headed to some dude's very luxurious penthouse suite for an after-after party. don't worry, it wasn't anything crazy. just some people hanging around chatting and relaxing. the crowd was mostly asians, surprise surprise. several of them were from bangkok, but were not of thai descent. it was a moment that felt like it was from a movie, sitting in this marble-floored, gold trimmed, grand stiaircase apartment overlooking bangkok city lights.
today, we are meeting up with another of flo's friends who runs a bakery out of one of the sister hotels of the one we're staying at. the company is amari. ours is amari atrium in case you're curious. we're goign to sample some delicious cakes, then head to a well-known weekend market, called chatuchak market for some shopping! tonight i'm not sure - either dinner with friends, or muy thai boxing...tbd. but i'm really getting used to this asia place. at least bangkok doesn't seem so overhwhelming now, and i actually am kinda liking it as i discover its many sides.
tomorrow, sadly flo will be leaving but then my journey continues with my group tour!