Lately, I’ve been daydreaming about Bangkok.
It was my first home abroad, and honestly still feels like my home. I miss its hot and sweaty streets, cool and dreamy parks, endless possibilities and opportunities lurking around every corner.
Every now and then, a particular memory will hit me, and stick with me for days, so real I feel like I could reach out and touch it.
This is one of those.
I sit on the curb outside the ubiquitous 7/11, on the dirty sidewalk of a crowded soi (street) off of Bangkok’s Sukhumvit. The cold Chang beer perspires in my hand, almost in unison with the small clear beads of sweat trailing discreetly down my temples, my back, slowly dampening my black tanktop. The air is thick with humidity, heat, and expectations.
Night has already begun and the neon signs blaze obscenely in yellow, electric blue, and pink. The signboards announce the restaurants and bars, while illuminating the myriad steel carts lined up on the street, cooks preparing recipes ancient and modern in their latest location for the hungry masses. Som tam, guay teow, banana pancakes, pad thai, the faceless crowd is already drunk, and no match for the sharp, sweet, sour, savory smells wafting almost visibly in the air. I watch the throng, a mix of grandfathers and teenagers, local and foreign, red Singha shirts and crisp business suits, united by hunger and the invisible pull of this frenetic street. The customers call out their orders in their shared language, or point and nod, and the cooks whip them up, a constant exchange of words, wrinkled baht bills, and steaming hot meals.
Vehicles zip by: faded red buses with their windows flung open, battered white vans, shiny black Mercedes with concealed passengers, fluorescent tuktuks, bright pink taxis, small and agile motorbikes. The heated air is crammed with driver’s beeps, spatula squeaks, and loud conversation. The skytrain track floats above, a galaxy away. The train glides near- silently, the hustle below blocking out its rumbling.
I sit unnoticed and observant on the trashed curb next to crumpled clear bags, folded plates, and meal remnants of congealed noodles, half eaten skewers, and sticky rice bits too quickly forgotten. I take a sip of my flat, heavy beer. One disposable pleasure down, and they’re onto the next.