BANGKOK PART 1: BACKGROUND CHECK
From my experience, there are two types of people in this world: those who love it, and those who absolutely loathe it. It’s the cilantro and Donald Trump of the travel world.
For better or worse Bangkok is an enigma. The beauty is there, if difficult to see, while its flaws confront you with regularity. Now it’s reminding me of Narcos. I mean, Colombia is beautiful and the story is forever fascinating, but the plot moves in fast forward and who decided narration was a great idea?
Back to Bangkok. The common and too often heard complaints: The seediness, the smell, the never-ending sprawl of buildings, the vehicles, and the swarms of people ruined it for a decent percentage of foreigners. Admittedly, a part of me agrees. From the outside it has its blemishes, but so does everything and everyone.
It took me a few trips to peel back the layers and find the real Bangkok. I had to make the effort to reach beneath the sticky, deceptive surface of smog and tourist traps. But once I found a flicker of its magic—the passionate people, amazing restaurants, the hidden gems (pun intended)—I never looked back.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” said everyone since wisdom became a thing. Bangkok is no different. If you’re one of those people who hates on Bangkok because you refused to leave the void that is Kosan Road and never gave the authentic districts a chance, I give my condolences.
That said, this being my 20-something-th trip to Thailand, I’m beginning to question my above sentiment for this town. Have I forced myself to love it like my Dad’s homemade oatmeal or plain yogurt? You know you’ll be a better person for at least giving it a shot, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing.
Either way, Bangkok has always been and will always be an essential part of Cavalier’s business. My family has been coming here to purchase gemstones since the 70’s and that’s not about to change. We deal with the same cutters, brokers, and dealers, in the same offices that my family did, since before I was old enough to board a plane alone.
This time around, Keith and I are spending our first morning getting obligatory knock off sunglasses, Myanmar travel visas, and seemingly mandatory mango sticky rice. After a 7:00 a.m. jetlag cleansing swim at the Narai Hotel pool we take a quick rip to the fruit market to see the same lady I’ve been buying fruit from since 2007.
In a way, it’s this simple act of buying fruit that encapsulates both my own Bangkok experience and the contradictory world experienced by visitors. On my first trip to Bangkok, my server presented me with two choices at lunch time: fresh fruit or a prostitute. Yeah. Not exactly choosing between minestrone or chicken soup, is it? (I elected to go with the fruit, of course.)
I’ve learned to love Bangkok, and by extension Thailand, for what it is, and what it is, is whatever you want it to be. Now, seeing as its Keith’s first time here, I think I’ll ask him what he wants to do for lunch.