Tuesday, July 01, 2014

I planned to write about BangCock trip (no puns intended) before the end of this month and going by how time's flying, it's going to be December 2045 in the next five minutes. Dramatic life is dramatic.

Bangkok happened to me and the sibling when we were least expecting it. I'd made up my mind about heading to Pondicherry or Kathmandu for a break, after I got placed with a company. I wasn't too excited about the salary I was going to draw but regardless, it was a good way to get a vacation extracted without feeling supremely guilty about it. At the same point of time, the Sibling graduated from school making my parents feel terribly happy about raising the two of us in a way that we completed our 'milestones' on time.

Pondicherry and Kathmandu didn't go down well with our parents, family friends, friendly neighbourhood sewage man and the janitress who works at home (because our parents didn't leave anyone who wasn't involved in the 'discussion' of this trip). Eventually, the last minute ticket purchase to the land of 'smiles' was made to work.

Armed with lists and heavy on advice (on how to not forget your passport at the mall and some such), we left for Thailand. The flight was pretty average, with no room to relax. I was so sure that my agonistic prayers were heard until I realized that our seats were strategically placed between a baby in the front and one to our left. It's better left to your imagination, what our night/morning must have been like.

After landing and grabbing a snack from 7 Eleven (Christ, how I love those) we boarded the bus to Pattaya. Now, here's a fact you ought to know about our trip. There's no place untouched from my mucus and infection. Sneezing, blowing nose and coughing were the keywords for me. As for the sibling, she hated the food. She despised everything except pork congee and rice which she'd eat happily for three meals a day. Me? I had a ball when it came to the food. All through Pattaya, I was infection ridden to the point where I could taste nothing but the banana pancakes available on the streets. The first meal that I could actually taste and figure out was in the cruise in Bangkok on our fourth day of the trip. By then, I'd given up hope on recovery. We ended up going to museums, zoos, local weekly markets and also met Prashanthi, an old friend from college who was with me in the Western Music Society as a singer. The whole trip was nothing short of only happiness. The kind that money can and cannot buy.

Besides, quick massage and quickies, Bangkok is known for it's street food. I can't begin to describe the delicacies available for one and all, on the road. Humble sausage develops character when you can have multiple, brilliant versions of the same. Starting from the breakfast (Asian and Continental) to the high-end cruise to even, 7-Elevens and local bakers, everyone loves sausages in Bangkok. The variety and the quality offered on the streets in Thailand can blow your mind away. It'll leave you asking for more with every bite. In the line of mindblowing stuff, Thai omelette can't stay behind. This local joint, behind our hotel served world's most delicious omelette. Cooked in butter with Thai herbs, scallions and local vegetables and served over a bed of sticky rice, this was an amalgamation of the most tantalizing flavours. And, not just the egg, the whole thing came alive with the presence of rice. We were taken aback with the rice serving but by the end of that meal, I could have proposed to the lady who cooked for us. Maybe it was her cart or maybe it's normal but the other mentionable meal was procured as our first lunch in Bangkok was shrimp curry and rice with egg. I can't describe the flavours that the bowl had to offer. It was as close to food coma as you could get. The highest compliment I can give anyone is perhaps making someone realize what you're capable of. That bowl made me realize of the flavours one can anticipate in the form of food, coming to you. The food you can taste and that which exists is closest to a foodgasm. The ice creams and the range of fruit juices deserve a special mention. For someone who despise ice creams, I had one for every meal and sometimes even in place of full meal. Again, the unique preparation, the quantity as well as the quality remains unmatched  (from the countries I've visited, hardly any). One can't overlook the bakers and the patisseries there. While I can guarantee, the combination of jazz and Thai donuts equal sex, I can't explain the thing they do with yeast. How can a simple thing like croissant taste the way, Thai croissants do? Simple. You move to Bangkok and live there for the rest of your life. Essentially, my fix for breads, fruits and meats was taken care of and Bangkok has won the hard spot of pleasing me with their range of fish cakes and crab salad. As much as I am highly prone to allergy after consuming sea food, I was OD-ing on anti-histamines so I lived.

The second striking feature about Thailand is the range of bars and their nightlife. I won't go into the detail of the red light district and the deal, but the rest of it was typically fun and high on endorphin. The rich bar band culture had me and the Sibling sit with our plate of munchies (french fries at 2 am being our favourite) while listening to the bands belting out popular numbers one by one. From RHCP to Nirvana to The Black Keys, there was nothing that we didn't listen to and appreciated. I wouldn't go as far as critiquing them aesthetically but the vibe of the place was stunning. I didn't feel homesick even for a minute. It was so relaxed and yet full of energy. Almost as if, having the beach to yourself.

Saving the best for the last, the shopping is never ending fun at Bangkok. While Pattaya was reminiscent of my Sarojini Nagar trips, only with fresh stock from Forever, Bangkok was a dream. Platinum Mall is as good as heaven. Six levels of clothes, more clothes and yet more clothes. Lingerie, belts, tshirts, dresses, footwear are all generic terms. Aztec inspired peplum, high slit skirt, ripped skinny jeans, acid washed hot pants- just a few terms I'm throwing around. The terms that excite me when I hear, just hear. I witnessed the large volume of clothes and the works while trying to lap as much as I could in two tiny bags. Ofcourse, discouting street shopping which included some vintage metal posters, lots of glasses-reading and shades, nail paints, rings, skirts and crop tops. There is something for everyone.

Along with indulging in touristy crap (and getting ripped by our guide 'uncle') it was a scintillating mix of little bit of this and hardcore local stuff (heading to the best street food joints, adapting their accent etc) helped us get past the hurdles that we faced during the trip. Ofcourse, there were nights when we fought, when we were broke enough to contemplate paying our bills by father's credit card and yet eat three meals from McDonalds at once. We ended up having extremes of both the worlds that both of us shared, enjoyed and laughed about. Even though we shared the bed and the experiences, there is barely anything else we guys shared amongst each other. She was busy with herself and her problems and I, with mine. Yet, it's always great to venture out with some company. They can divide work when queues come in the picture, hold your bag while you're trying clothes and suggest you to grab the wrong seat in public transport. Also, someone to lend you their wipes while you blow your nose.

I don't know how am I surviving. I left my heart in the hotel, that smelled of Thai lemon grass and ginger. In butter fried potatoes, served during the breakfast, with the lady who offered us her cart seating and a meal when we were dead tired and our spirits hadn't given up, the man who made us delicious pancakes while blasting Annu Malik on his phone on loud, the taxi operator who drove us to Tiffany's and with the man, who helped us navigate through till our hotel after my GPS died. There were so many faces, and even more stories that could fit in here but instead, they decided to keep my heart and send me back physically. I'm in love with Thailand. Impossible at the surface level but hard truth of the world. 

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