Courtney. July 14, 2010 @ 9:47AM.
This is the first time I have woken up early enough to see Bangkok prepare for what I've seen of it at night. It's a completely different place right now from what it will be in 12 hours, at it's prime. I knew that Buddhist monks woke up at 4AM, and school children at 6 or 7, but it didn't occur to me that either even existed in Bangkok until I got out of the hostel at 8 this morning. I felt as safe walking around here as I feel walking around Folsom, but I was a little on edge walking near so many monks on the narrow Thai streets because I know they can't touch me and I almost brushed against about 5 of them. I'm not really sure why it's such a big deal for those guys to segregate sexes but I'm going to find out.
Thai men in general are much more friendly in a non-threatening way in the morning than they are at night. In the morning, even quarter mile from the touristy area, they won't even look at you until you smile at them. And when you smile at them they smile back, but again, it's non-threatening and feels at the moment like the most genuine smile you've even seen. There were other things that I saw in the 2 hours I walked outside of Khao San that I haven't seen yet in the 8 or 10 days I've spent in Bangkok. One was the 'permanent' public newsstands. We might have them in the states but if we do I haven't noticed. Either way there wouldn't have been monks reading them. They're double-sided podiums with one newspaper on each side. They're in Thai, otherwise I would have caught myself up on what's going on in the world for the first time in 3 weeks.
Half of all Thais in Bangkok are on their cell phones in at 8AM. Even the monks. That was a weird sight. Even more difficult for me to wrap my head around was the fact that I was standing there, watching the food venders prep the food that I've been eating for 3 weeks. Obviously they have to set up every morning, but I didn't know exactly how they did it. You know that bucket that every American has in their garage, that contains either a plunger, weeds that you pulled from your yard last summer, or leftover dirt from when you planted your 2' x 2' tomato garden? Well Thai food venders use that bucket to wash the food that we eat here, just before they set it on the ground to dry. And its not like a designated 'clean drying' area either.It's the part of the ground that was splashed 5 minutes ago with dirty water from the dishwasher from the night before.The worst part is: I'll be eating it again in about 8 hours and it doesn't really bother me.
I saw cats on leashes. In Thailand there is a cat for every 2 or 3 feet that you walk. Most are obvious strays, but about 1% is manicured like a Western domesticated pet. And even the well-kempt ones I've never seen on a leash - here or in the US. But this morning I saw 3 cats on leashes on 1 street corner alone
I saw more bird flu (or whatever they're for) masks this morning than I've seen yet during this whole trip.... Maybe immune systems are weaker in the morning?
The food stands outside of Khao San Road are completely different from inside The Road. I don't know what they are because not one person speaks English outside of The Road. But there was something the size of 4 marbles wrapped in a leaf, a bag full of what looked like raw parakeet eggs, and I think I saw a puppy fetus in a bag. I hate to be that graphic but I can't describe it any other way.
When I crossed the streets this morning there was at least 2 feet between me and each car that I wadded through. At night, you make sure the car you're trying to pass wont hit you by keeping one hand on it while you squeeze between it and the car in front of it.
Bangkok was a very different place for me this morning. Maybe because I've never been up this early here, maybe because it's the first time I've left The Road, or maybe because I got a good sober night's sleep 2 nights in a row. But there are 2 things that haven't changed since I landed in Bangkok International Suvarnabhumi Airport: I love this place - and I am more wet from sweating right now than I am when I get out of the shower...