Busy, chaotic, crowded, poor, dirty. And hot. NOT inviting, really. Mind you, one’s curiosity is somewhat tempered by the enveloping, persistent and oppresive heat. Literally. Add to that the ravaging remnants of the flu-from-hell and the increased cost of everything and Bangkok has pretty much lost whatever semblance of appeal it ever had for us.
To be fair, it never held much. Been there….
Discouraging? Not in the least. Travel is all about the good and the bad and it is often the bad that makes for more interest. Mind you, you have to work a bit to find the silver linings at times. “Geez, Sal, ya ever lamented your lot in life? Ever felt sorry for yourself, felt hard-done-by, had the blues?”
“Not really. Sometimes when you are grouchy.”
“So, not often, then?”
We both laughed.
But the point was made. It is pretty hard maintaining bruised feelings about one’s life when looking at what it must be like to be even middle-class in Bangkok. This is a hard life. “If you let me take you to a tailor’s shop for five minutes, he gives me a chit for five liters of petrol. I will reduce your cab-fare sir. It is still worth it to me?”
“James, I don’t mind killing five or so minutes to help you out but I will be dishonest. I am not buying a bespoke suit or silk pajamas. Jus’ not gonna.”
“No problem, sir. The tailor is from my village. I get petrol whether you buy or not. Makes us all happy.”
Five liters is the same price as five liters in Canada. James lives on 30% of what we live on and we live at the low end of the Canadian cost of living standard. Roughly $6.00-$7.00 of gasoline is what he gets for manipulating tourists into a tailor’s shop. It makes his day profitable.
We were there for ten minutes. I was tempted to buy a silk shirt…..
“If you buy the shirt, sir, I get five more liters. If you go back, let me take you, please.”
“No problem, James. If we go back, we go back with you.”
“Thank you sir.”
To my mind, that is a hard way to make less than $15.00.
And James is working all the angles. He has to. Two kids. Wife working the street BBQ every day…after he has gone to the market to do the BBQ shopping for her. Then he drives cab for as long as he can stay awake.
Us? We rested in the afternoon and wondered where to have dinner. Our privileged status is not always so evident. It is in Bangkok.
Unlike Sunshine Sal, I sometimes do get dark moods. I am not always a happy bunny, ya know? Especially when I look at the Trump types…… more so when I then walk a few blocks in the poor-people’s shoes…..I can get into crazy-dark. The privileged, eh? Who the hell do they think they are What dickheads!
But, honest-to-God, if I could fix their elitist views, I would simply put that idiot-in-office in taxi Jame’s shoes for just one week. Put those stinkin’ privileged feet in the shoes of even a well-off man (by Thai standards) and see how that plays out. The president of the United States could not cut it. Potus can’t do squat most places and he sure as hell couldn’t scratch a living in a place like this. Trump couldn’t do what James does for even a week. Even if he survived the week, he would not have made his rent and car payments. The guy can’t cut it. In every working man’s place on the planet, he would be fired.
Relevant to anything? I don’t know. Probably not…….but think about this….Sal and I got into the back of a cab and entrusted James to navigate the maelstrom that is Bangkok traffic. I relaxed a minute into that mad-scramble, pell-mell, weaving-at-speed-through-the-cloying-night drive. The guy was good.
But then, what is even more frightening, when I thought about it, we have our lives and our children’s lives in the soft, small incompetent hands of a monumental spoiled brat with early onset dementia and sufficient visions of self-importance to make King Canute blush (he was the king who commanded the sea NOT to rise). We are entrusting our collective future to a pompous idiot, tool of the Russians. We are relying on a guy who can barely wipe his own butt, can’t cook, can’t build, can’t read, reason, speak clearly or even think rationally. He can’t seem to even tell the truth.
I swear: Trump couldn’t drive cab in Bangkok for a week or three miles – whichever comes first – without total disaster. And his wife would beat him on weekends.
Bangkok and James made me think about that. It’s a perspective-thing…..