Motorbikes, Buddhist rites & the boys in brown…
19.09.2009 29 °C
Bandolier style, my laptop and briefcase straps criss-cross my chest. I’m casually checking a text on my phone with one hand while my motorbike taxi weaves in and out of Bangkok rush hour traffic down the perennially-packed Sukhumvit Road. I don’t even bat an eyelash as the driver squeezes us through a hole between cars so close I can feel the exhaust on my shins.
This is a far far cry from my first white-knuckled terror trips down Asoke a few months ago. Having to literally close my eyes as we barreled straight into oncoming traffic and letting out occasional panicked yelps as we’d avoid a collision by mere centimeters. Yesterday my overly rammy driver tried to smash my sweet self between a bus and a BMW – so I gave him a solid shot to the ribs. He just laughed. I must be a BKK native now!
Last night I took a motorbike, two trains, a boat and a taxi to get to dinner at this lovely restaurant on the river. That is a myriad of transport methods for one dinner! But it was well worth it to sip a Singha on the deck with a stunning view of Wat Arun all lit up like a Siamese fever dream.
A new company moved in to the office next door to ours yesterday. All the employees kneeled respectfully on the floor as 7 monks in orange robes performed rites meant to christen the new business. Chanting, incense, symbols indecipherable to my foreign eye chalked on the glass doors. I was thoroughly intrigued but politely dropped my gaze as I walked past en route to my morning coffee.
My office is in the same building as the Israeli embassy and yesterday we had about 100 Thai Muslims protesting outside. The building security guards set up barricades to hold them back and were wheeling mirrors underneath all the cars coming into the parkade. In true Thai style the protestors aired their grievances vocally but politely and then went away in time for lunch.
More protests from the Red Shirts today at the government buildings –with between 20,000 and 30,000 red-clad supporters of the former Prime Minister expected. But from the pictures I can see on the news they’re in pretty good spirits and hopefully the violence of April will be averted. No one’s come to hassle my neighbour, the current Prime Minister, on our street just yet but the boys in brown (Royal Thai police force) are out in full effect just in case…incidentally, does anyone know why these gentlemen wear their uniforms so gosh darn tight? Aiyeeee!