Hope you liked the illustration of my experience in Singapore. Next stop was Bangkok. Here goes the first part of my wide eyed comprehension of phenomenon, called, Bangkok.
The days were getting interestingly hectic! With minimal warning, new vistas were opening up at a breathtaking pace! Seemed like our clients were conspiring with my Employer to open doors to provide me with inspiring experiences! While in Singapore, I was asked to make a trip to Bangkok at a 3 day notice! With lot of trepidation and nervous energy, even those 3 days appeared to be 3 months! Luckily, I was already on a trip, and hence, did not have the luxury to plan on what to take for the journey and stay in another country. As much did I try to suppress my excitement, my colleagues could figure out the wide-eyed kid in me, and were quite solicitous in providing advice and guidance, some of which, destination being Bangkok, were almost of naughty kind!
As is my wont, I went ahead and gathered as much information about the new place, and also came to know (not substantiated well enough, though!) that till a few years back, the industry that generated maximum revenue for Thailand had to do with the oldest profession known to mankind! That did unnerve me a bit, as the “oldest profession” was indeed considered a taboo in my country, and I was determined to steer clear of any situation to that direction! More on that later.
The flight from Singapore to Bangkok was a short one! The Airport, while cozy and neat, was no match for the Singapore Airport. In 2003, Don Mueang Airport was the only International Airport of Bangkok. Later, in 2006, the gorgeous Suvarnabhumi Airport came into being and usurped all the limelight from its little cousin, which happened to be the oldest operational Commercial Airport of Asia! One thing that I found interesting about the Don Mueang Airport was the availability of Smoking Rooms all around! But was too excited to patronize those in my first visit. Had my first experience with Visa-on-Arrival as well! Having completed all the formalities, I stepped into Thailand!
Being greeted with “folded palms pranam” at almost all places immediately put me at ease! Already started feeling at home. The Cabbie breezed through the morning traffic and reached Fraser Suites in the Sukhamvit area of Bangkok! While getting down from the cab, the cabbie gave me a conspiratorial smile and uttered key words like “Boom Boom, Massage etc.” which did not mean much! Looking at my expressions, he surreptitiously pushed a visiting card in my hands along with the loose change that he owed me from the fare that was paid, gave me a wink, and pushed off! Still wondering about the naughty wink, I settled into the comfort of my designated room and got to work, which involved getting in touch with couple of guys from a partner company, who were assisting us on the project. Some leisurely calling and chatting settled me at the lunch table with the newly found friends, who proved to be a very nice company. While we planned for the week ahead, they were more intent on planning for the evening, and the next day (a Sunday). The evening was to be spent in Potpong, which, I was told, was Bangkok’s street shopping paradise. While I was not really prepared for shopping, my friends convinced me to soak in the atmosphere, which, I was assured, would be a life-time experience.
The evening came, and it was time to board the iconic TukTuk of Bangkok. In spite of being acquainted with Indian Auto Drivers and traffic, the TukTuk experience was “breath-taking” (wherein, you actually realize when you are taking breath, as most of the time, you are cannot!), such was the reckless abandon of the driver. He flew the vehicle, while swerving it perilously close to toppling over! With heart at my mouth, and hands grabbing the handle in front, I somehow lived! My friends seemed in a much better shape than I was, managing to crack jokes and discussing life during the rollercoaster ride! While we were getting down, the TukTuk driver flashed an album at us, which was flush with photographs of ladies, who considered clothes as an unnecessary burden! While my friends gorged on the heady stuff, I assumed a philosophical outlook towards life, trying to figure out how I should react!
A walk through the narrow lane of the market was no less exciting! Vendors with all sorts of imitation items were exhibiting their selling skills in inimitable “Thai English”! You could only stop or look at the items at the risk of a lighter pocket and a feeling of despondency (later) of being duped! My friends seemed to be experts at handling the vendors and making way. My wide eyed attempt at comprehending the surroundings led my vision to waver to the side street shops, which were draped with thick curtains. While I was wondering about the Sales Strategy of those shops, someone walked out from behind one of those curtains, and I was subjected to a view, which I had not been subjected to before! Those shops appeared to be Liquor bars, with a very long table, with tens of patrons on both sides of it. On the table were dancing ladies, who had abandoned most of their clothing! My friends following my gaze and gave a knowing nod before shifting their own gaze on me! My discomfort was not lost on them. They probably had plans to venture into the bars, but abandoned the plan for my sake and decided to cut the evening venture short! We presented exemplary strength of character to ignore all the enticement of several invitations to Massage parlors and made it back to the safety of our accommodation.
…….To be continued