Bangkok Chronicles: Sunday August 26

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I slept like a rock after not seeing a bed for 36 hours or so. Kuhn Tor (Kuhn is added to a name to show respect, kind of like how “San” is added at the end of a name in Japan) took us on a short tour of the neighborhood. It is definitely densely populated, being close to Silom road and next to a station of the Sky Train. There is a grocery store, which is surprisingly expensive. Interestingly enough, it is more affordable to eat out (at the reasonably priced restaurants, of course) than it is to get the bulk of one’s nourishment at the grocer. I’m not sure why this is but it seems like a worthy subject of study. I wonder how much different things will be once the US dollar hegemony ends and the Fed is no longer able to export inflation to the dollar-holding central banks of the world. We then took the Sky Train (BTS) all the way to the Siam stop, at which is where the Siam Paragon is, which I believe is the largest mall in Thailand. And it is huge!

I figure somebody in Bangkok must be doing well, or else a lot of tourists must be, since this mall had designer stores like Dolche & Gabana, Armani, etc. as well as BMW, Maserati, and Lamborghini dealers. I can’t imagine trying to drive a Lamborghini in Bangkok. (Interestingly enough, the grandson of the co-founder of Red Bull would allegedly hit a pedestrian with his Ferrari a week later). I think it also has the bookstore with the largest collection of English books in Thailand. There is surely plenty to see (pictures to come later).

Most people in the mall were on the lower levels, where affordable things, such as goodies at the food court, were available. Foot traffic was pretty crazy. Go to the top floor, and you’ll find a bowling alley and IMAX theatre. And they have some interesting cinematic services available, such as getting a couch and a blanket with food service at your movie. Not sure how much that costs, but I think it costs roughly the same as just going to a new release in the US does.

We spent most of the day here, trying new things. One of the highlights, and what I wish I would have caught a picture of, was the Japan Fest that was happening right outside. Imagine all kinds of anime characters becoming live action, complete with Japanese girl on stage in a short-skirted school uniform, singing a pop song. They had all kinds of costumes. There was Sailor Moon, samurai, even guys looking like they were straight out of Call of Duty. There is also very interesting food offered at the Paragon. One thing we tried was a milk tea cake/ice cream ball thing. It was…interesting. The most tasty drink I might have had so far was from a place with “Amazon” in the title, which was some type of mango smoothie. Yummie.

After being at the Siam Paragon, it hardly felt like I was in Asia. Most of the signs in the mall were in English. I dislike the feeling of sameness everywhere I go. It kind of reminds me when I first took a commercial flight (the only time flying before that was in someone’s private, single engine biplane in Bismarck, ND) and flew to the Denver Airport. It was so huge! I had a 2 hour layover and decided to see how many times I could walk from end to end. That is actually still what I do when I’m in airports: tour. But then I realized that I just kept seeing the same stores over and over. What is that very popular bookstore called? Hudson? And then the same restaurants. And then the same retailers. With the same products, only with a different city pasted across the sweatshirts or coffee mugs. Had these places lost any locally distinctive trait?

Hence, I’ve decided forthwith, that if presented the opportunity (if reasonably priced) I will opt for the local experience over the possibly more comfortable and familiar chain. I will stay at the older couple’s B&B rather than the hotel. Or whatever else seems necessary. Isn’t that part of the reason that we travel? To experience something different? You can get McDonald’s at home.

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