Saturday, September 23, 2006


I love this city. I haven't been here for quite 24 hours yet,

so i can't confirm whether Bangkok is, in fact, full on 24/7. But it does seem to be. The sticker on the airport taxi window, "We honour his Majesty the King", celebrates the 60th anniversary of his reign.

The sidewalk food stalls, where i ate dumplings and noodle soup, under an umbrella, watching a rainy parade of 3am traffic, prostitutes, travellers and an occasional dwarf, are replaced today with a fresh set of stalls, peddling assorted sweatshop produce. The sidewalks are an extended market. Wandered about this morning, down along the San Sap canal. Not much sign of the imposition of martial law, other than armed soldiers here and there on intersections. Well, multinationals run the world. Governments come and go but both capitalism and the weather are here to stay. It's business as usual.

The Buddhist people here are pretty tolerant, but corrupt Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's antics have finally become too much even for them. He recently sold his communications company Shin Corp off to Singapore for $1.9 billion, but his changes to the law meant he didn't pay any tax on the deal. The last elections were boycotted by the opposition. The electoral commission which looked into it was, like most of his government's bureaucracies, stacked with his cronies. So the military seized power, with the tacit approval of the beloved King, while Thaksin was away at the UN. I've got to go and catch the skytrain so my political analysis will have to wait. And it will probably be more informative once i've figured out what the fuck is going on.

Meanwhile i am installed at Suk 11 guesthouse, which is a traditional Thai style haven amidst the sprawling commercial district. It has four floors, a roof garden, a gallery, a day spa and is quite charming. Offerings here and there. Wood panelling, much foliage. A walkway to another building crosses above the street. An array of jars, each containing a single siamese fighting fish. A funny little black cat. Wooden verandahs with low tables and long triangular silk cushions. Paper lanterns. Quiet spaces hidden here and there.

The streets, meanwhile, rock. The amount of fun to be had in Bangkok is limited only by one's common sense.

No comments: