Back in Bangkok again. Feels good to be back. The city certainly has plenty of cons but is just so much more organized and easier to navigate. For one thing, not having to deal with the crazy Vietnamese traffic culture (or, lack thereof) is truly calming for the nerves. And being able to walk freely on sidewalks again ain’t at all bad. Spent the afternoon with friends Lars-Vidar and Maria from Svarte in Sweden around town, mostly near the city’s oldest neighborhood, Rattanakosin where we ate a terrific Pad Thai on the street after baking in the sun on one of the many restaurant decks overlooking the Chao Phraya River below.
There were barely any tourists or anything but Thai restaurants when I first visited Rattanakosin in 1988. I remember spending hours walking around, talking to the vendors selling Buddhist hand-carved ornaments made of wood or stone and iron-cast icons along the sidewalks. I’d on occasion visit the art faculty at Silpakorn University and shoot a roll of film in the noname park near the Grand Palace as I eventually made my way back to Khao San Road and the guesthouse I was staying at.
Today, the Rattanakosin is flourishing with hotels, fancy dining spots, cafés, and a few relatively cheap sidewalk eateries. Fortunately and surprisingly, some of the area’s original rustic authenticity that I was so mesmerized by once upon a time, is still there. The only thing now is you have to share it with a bunch of fellow tourists.