Bangkok, or Krung Thep Maha Nakhon in Thai, which means City of Angels – a captivating place home to more than eight million people and at least the equivalent number of vehicles. A weekend stop for me this time.
Having travelled to Asia a few times, I thought I would get used to the overwhelming influence on the senses as soon as I disembarked the plane. Still battered by the impact of affordable economy seats, the heat and the humidity, the array of different Asian languages all blending into one, the powerful sun bouncing off the glass and steel of the city. It creates a sense of confusion and disorientation and yet, everywhere you go you stumble upon familiar sights and sounds. Like the baristas asking for your name to be written on your cup underneath the statue of liberty, only for it to resemble nothing like you had shouted out to them amongst the crowds of coffee enthusiasts. The chain restaurants displaying golden arches and smiling faces, or the familiar western style designs, cars and business centers, all representing wealth and fortune.
For me this City of Angels is the contrast our world presents. It is visible in everything this place has to offer.
Jim Thompson House – a place that was built to house the magnificent artefacts of Asian culture and demonstrate the beauty of local architecture, it gives a peaceful home to the wonderful ancient masterpieces of Thai art and culture. As a contrast to this and only a three minute walk away an enormous abandoned building displays the famous street art by Alex Face. Branding the city’s skyline with images of a three eyed child dressed in animal costumes is so contrasting in itself that it represents the city at its best.
Wandering the stalls of Chatuchak market, taking shelter from the thunderstorm protected by plastic sheets, while sitting down on stools made of the same, to a meal of authentic pad thai and fried chicken. The shouting and bustling of the cooks and waiters competing against each other could not be more contrasting to an evening of cocktails on the 49th floor of a five star hotel a few hours later. The calm of the city parks, where active joggers complete their morning laps and the canal behind the scenes, taking you past backyards and homes.
Contrast is what makes life exciting and adventurous. No matter how stark, there is always beauty in it.