I just found the most glorious coffee shop in Bangkok. You could totally miss it if you didn’t know how to get here. Thanks to NomadicNotes, I am here. It’s tucked within an alley amongst street vendors and high-rise buildings right in the center of town. It’s called Re-Café. The shop is a bungalow set in a courtyard with flowerpots all around its large windows, 50’s era design overlooking the yard and alleyway. I’m finding it’s a great place for a writing break.
Doing long-term travel requires stamina and pacing oneself. I realized this point last night after a 12-hour long day visiting the Chatuchark market, Wat Phrakaew for the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho for the reclining Buddha, continued across the river for Wat Arun, and finally, drinks on the rooftop of the River City mall. From all of these incredibly beautiful Wats (Buddhist temples), I would say my favorite was Wat Arun. It’s made of stone and decorated with seashells and bits of porcelain and has incredibly steep steps reaching the high top. From this vantage point, as the sun sets the views are incredible. You can get a sense of the vastness of Bangkok and the vitality of its waterways–especially the river Chao Phraya that snakes through Bangkok’s mid-center and all the way to the Gulf of Thailand. By the way, here’s a little tip, if you do go to the River City mall, you can cross by boat to the Hilton Hotel and then hop onto their complimentary boat to the BTSC, which is the skytrain.
The transportation here is varied and at times it leaves you confused. There’s the skytrain, buses with or without air, tuk tuks, taxis, vans, and subway… But, I’m slowly getting a sense for the city’s arteries. Overall, I feel very safe and everyone I meet reminds me of this fact, “You can walk at night everywhere and nothing will happen to you”. In fact, an expat answered when I asked, “Would you return to the US?” He replied, “Why would I go to such an unsafe place where everybody seems to have a gun?” Quite a revelatory moment since it wasn’t from the mouth of a Thai or French-hating American. It was an American living abroad! LOL. And people in the US have been reminding me how dangerous it might be traveling over here. So far, the Thai people seem extremely gentle and friendly.
Yesterday at the bar and in the midst of monsoon rain, I had a long chat with an English-boarding-school-educated-Thai. As a 30-year old and speaking perfect English, I asked him about opportunities for young people. In Thailand, he said, it’s all about connections. Companies don’t care about your intelligence level because there’s a desire to keep you in tow, beneath them. The gap between the well educated and the poorly educated is vast. But even if you are more intelligent and better educated — when you apply for the same job as someone who is less educated but better connected — the other person will get it. On the other hand, entrepreneurialism is respected. Maybe this is their Chinese background, since it seems that whoever is in a position of power here has Chinese ancestry.
I have been here for a few days, in fact, this is my fourth full day and as expected it already feels longer. The humidity feels familiar, maybe from my travels to Brazil– especially the grey skies and tropical smells of Sao Paulo. Two sentences have been guiding me for the past few days. The first one is a line from a sermon the Bangkok’s Chabad rabbi said during Yom Kippur a couple of days ago, “When G-d called onto Adam in the Garden of Eden, “Adam, where are you?” Adam couldn’t respond: “Hineni” (here I am), because he was hiding. You have to be present to answer that question, you have to take responsibility for yourself, and it’s a declaration about Who You Are.” The second line comes from my dear healer/reflexologist back in Los Angeles, “Ease and joy” she said, “you are in transition from previous storylines that you have believed and now it’s your time for lightness.”
Having taken the step towards the unknown, not having a specific travel plan, but seeing where my interests, desires, and intuition take me – I have thus far felt very honored to have given myself this opportunity. It’s not easy; it’s not without challenges, but it’s My Road. I can only hope to take responsibility for my steps along this path and to step lightly, with Joy and Ease.