Magun's Compass
Learn from the Travel Experiences of Others

"Bangkok, Oriental City...."

Bangkok Palace, Copyright Michel Guntern. ....the words of a song become reality.

The overall picture is not solely flesh, the girls for sale are mainly concentrated around a few side streets, but the traffic is everywhere: Busses; cars; taxis; tuk-tuks; the sound of blaring horns; whining motorcycles that never stop for pedestrians; and the policemen trying to make their whistles heard above the noise.

Tranquillity can only be found at some of the wats, or temple-monasteries, but walking around them, and in some cases up them, is hard work. Plastic bags filled with crushed ice and soft drinks are sold everywhere; to refresh all and sundry, suffering from the tropical humidity.

At the floating market, it is interesting to see the old ladies still trading produce from long wooden boats, but the tourists themselves can become the spectacle.

Floating Market
Michel Guntern

An attractive girl paddles up to a tourist barge with an armful of straw-hats, a kaleidoscopic clash of colourful flower garlands, and a saleable smile.

The tourists can be interesting to watch.
These normally sane people pay extortionate prices to be herded around the waterways. They wear straw-hats on their heads, flower garlands around their necks, photographic hardware on their shoulders, and suck fresh coconut milk through straws. They are content, they are a part of the floating market.

At night, Bangkok turns fake: t-shirts and watches are for sale on the pavements:

"All good quality, All good price!" Of course.

The embroidered Ralph Lauren's are harder to emulate, and some of the copies look more like a tennis player on a shire horse. Sow on labels are easier. A group of Polish speculators need an extra taxi to take their shopping to the airport. A Benetton shop in Warsaw's main street, now sells the United Colours in Polish Zloty, but the high price of the genuine article (almost a month's wages for some) gives the importer of a cheaper copy a ready market.

Then there are the girls; smiling at the male as though he is the only one. And what a sight some of these couples make, strolling around together the next day. He is big, beer-bellied; his pink skin covered in coloured ink, and he sports a beard -- as if to hide his face. She is made up to look western, smiling, willing, and comes up to his gut, if she wears high heels.

Asia Index

Nomadic Gatherings - Travels in Asia and Australia

Travel on trains and buses in Asia, then jump into cars with complete strangers in Australia and New Zealand as Michel introduces you to a collection of characters that bring Nomadic Gatherings to life.

If you can't afford to buy a copy of Nomadic Gatherings, the chapters are slowly being made available online - for free.

You may even decide that it really is worth having a hard copy in your hands; a useful read for those long bus journeys being written about, and for endless waits at ferry ports.

Nomadic Gatherings - Online Chapters.

Find out more about Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, The Middle East, and The Americas.
Magun's Compass

Originally Hosted on Geocities - in 1996

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