Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I lived here for months before I found out where Bangkok downtown was. Los Angeles is spread out but its downtown is easily recognizable by the cluster of tall buildings. Bangkok, not having the earthquake paranoia, has far more tall buildings, but they seem to be everywhere. To try to guess the location of downtown by a tall building cluster is impossible. I have never seen a city like it.

It didn’t matter. I had guides to take me everywhere. I could sit in the back of the car, look mindlessly out the window, and drool contentedly, which was befitting of my station in life.

Then I decided one day to explore on my own.

You should have seen the panic in my household. They obviously didn’t understand who I was. I was the first white man to walk through portions of the Peruvian Andes. I drove alone through Iranian deserts (on paved roads, but there’s no need to mention that). I lived among Montagnard tribes in the Vietnamese highlands and went alone into Free Fire Zones. And all these people could see was this old fucking incompetent who had to be led everywhere. (In their defense, I preferred being led everywhere. If they had offered to push me around in a wheelchair, I probably would have gone for it. I’m like those guys on an episode of the Drew Carey Show who got rich and didn’t want to walk any more.)

Anyway, with the aid of a map, I discovered what they call “downtown.” It is really the old central part of the city. There are colorful monuments, Buddhist shrines, parks, and royal buildings along with multi-storied malls and a few tall buildings. It encompasses a part of Chinatown, which once dominated. Some of the Chinese establishments could be centuries old by the look of them. I’m not talking about anything special, just stores that looked very old.

So what’s the point of all this?

Are you nuts?

You expect a guy who stares vacantly out a window while drooling to have a point?


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