We’re cruising in and out of traffic on a brisk Bangkok morning. Early from a flight that chased the night for 17 hours, our pink taxi, and the hundreds we pass that blur the same color, gently remind me that I’m not in Idyllwild, or Denver, or anywhere I’ve ever been in my life. While I might boast the label of world traveler, this is a continent I had not stepped foot on until today, and it didn’t take long to realize that as the cliche really does go, I really was in a different world.
Guarded by the confines of our candy-trippin’-cadilac, I kidded myself for the forty-five minute drive to our hotel that humanity is the same everywhere. Radio Thai’s perfect English broadcast of world news, local politics and American pop-culture, along with billboards for the latest green air conditioner unit, a Prius and its rivaling hybrids, and newly built eco-neighborhoods lulled me into thinking that this far away land must really be like Kansas. How quickly I forgot that the last 50 billboards I saw on the drive to LAX advertised faulty weight-loss programs and super-sized fast food. But I did see a Thai hipster rockin’ out in her fixed-gear Tuk-tuk.
I wanted to end this blog, as I wrote it in my head on that final stretch, with some rather big dream . . . with this triumphant notion that I would spend the next seven weeks unpacking my drastic generalizations that humanity is the same everywhere . . . that my travels, as they always have, would help me see the nuances of culture and cities and their people.
How arrogant could I be? Seven weeks? The moment I stepped out of our beautiful cab, the aromas of salted fish and vinegared gutter water, the roar of the morning moto commute and the un-lit neon signs hanging far too close to my head and exposed wires, stormed over my senses.
And then I saw the 46 meter long by 15 meter tall reclining Buddha . . . and without a doubt, I had arrived.