Because of connections (or rather lack thereof), I must spend one night in Bangkok. I am excited. I have never been to Thailand.
The airport is overwhelming. It is steel and glass and modern and there are lots of people crowding the space. I stare a lot. It is already nightfall once I clear immigration.
I direct the taxi driver to take me to the night market, the famous one, Lumpini Night Market. I’ve heard of it from other travelers. It’s overwhelming, but in a different sense than the airport. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of small stalls crammed together in an outdoor space, selling the same things: small coin purses with elephants on them, Thai silk pillow cases, knockoff designer glasses frames claiming they are the original, t-shirts with bad slogans printed on them, soaps and candles, and more. The shop keepers seem tired. They don’t even look up when I walk by. They continue to read, or eat, or massage each others’ backs. There aren’t many tourists.
I sweat as I wander through the stalls. It is much warmer here than in Kathmandu and the air is completely still.
I get offered many massages: head, feet, body. I stare, then decide no. I would fall asleep immediately if any part of me was massaged right now.
I walk by a pharmacy and notice armpit cream. I am curious. Armpit cream? Is this deodorant? No. It is armpit cream, which guarantees whiter armpits in just 7 days. I almost buy it just because I am curious. I decide my armpits are white enough.
While looking for a taxi, I accidentally wander into the food market. I weave in and out of the stalls selling fresh fruit juice, noodles, curries, and am intoxicated by the smells. There is a concert going on, a small Thai woman in an orange dress and matching orange thigh high boots belts out Thai pop songs. No one seems to be listening to her.
The beer girls surround me, trying to get me to purchase their brand of beer. I smile politely and say no. I would fall asleep immediately if I drank a beer right now.
I try to find a taxi, but I keep wandering into new market stalls. I see tables of hair clips, sparkly, bright and shiny hair clips. I ask the woman to show me how to use one. She cannot reach my hair. “You so tall, just like model,” she shrieks. I bend down and she twists my hair into a fancy do. I probably pay too much for the clip; I probably won’t be able to replicate the style on my own. She is happy.
I finally find a taxi to take me to the hotel. The roads are wide and the cars aggressive. Neon lights illuminate the city. People are out, enjoying the hot and humid evening.
I arrive to the hotel. The receptionist, a tall, slender young man, hands me my room key. I notice he has the most beautifully manicured fingernails of anyone I’ve ever seen, male or female. His nails are long, perfectly shaped, and painted an elegant pearly white. He wears outlandish dinner rings made of diamonds and rubies on two of his fingers. I wonder if he is a hand model.