Finally made it.
Getting over here was an adventure in itself. I have only travelled by plane twice before, and was much younger when I did so. Navigating airport logistics was pretty haphazard, and I actually feel quite lucky I managed to stumble through it well enough (though I almost missed my flight to China out of LA!) Certainly makes the title of this blog, which I created well before embarking on this trip, feel apt.
I landed late, and thus missed the chance to take the Skytrain to my hostel as I had originally planned. Exhausted from the long flight, I managed to get a Taxi and find make it to the hostel despite a lack of internet and a language barrier.
I took my first day here to just wander the streets of the Sukhumvit district and get a feel for the city. I have to say, so far I’m a lot more charmed with Bangkok than I had expected I would be.
Streets are lined with vendors making all kinds of street food as fragrant smoke billows from grilling kabobs and skewered fish. All over there are living walls draped with vines and flowers, and fern-like leaves furnish every block from countless peeking branches. Siamese cats walk confidently across the alleyways. Here the street and the sidewalk enjoy a much more casual and fluid relationship—whether on foot, scooter or bike, or in taxi or car, we’re all just a bunch of bodies being shuffled around anyway, right? That seems to be the attitude here.
All the elements of the city are more narrow and tightly packed, but rather than creating a sense of claustrophobia, it lends a feeling of coziness and ease. For me at least, it makes the larger infrastructure of the cities in the US that I’m accustomed to seem more alienating and inhuman somehow by comparison. I was unsure of how I would take to the weather, but I find this dense tropical warmth very much to my liking (granted, I’m getting the best of the seasons, between the scalding heat and the heavy rain.)
My big task of the day was to find a good first Thai meal. It was challenging not due to scarcity, or shyness, or linguistic challenges—but rather to the sheer abundance of choices. I decided to start at a nice and quaint Thai family restaurant, and the food was great, and cheap! Exploring the cuisine here is going to be great. Also, while I certainly don’t intend to make a habit out of it, I had to go for one of the famous Thai red bulls.
I am really excited for all that this trip will have in store.
I have to admit though, I am finding it very difficult to unplug from all that is happening at home. I keep opening broswer tabs on my phone with op-eds and news stories, trying to keep up with the pace of political discourse that is going on and make sense of what feels like a growing intensity of cultural and political polarization in the US. I feel a real sense of heaviness around all of it.
In particular, I am feeling the weight of the events unfolding at Standing Rock, ND. It seems like all of the most fundamentally important issues of our time are enfolded into this massively historical event. And now, word has it, the Army Corps of Engineers has provided notice that officials have been sanctioned to force the Oceti Sakowin camp from the land they have been occupying sometime around December 5th. Oceti Sakowin is nearest the site where the drilling is occurring to send the pipeline running under the Missouri, and in one sense is technically owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, but only if the breaking of the 1851 Fort Laramie treaty—which guaranteed that land to the Standing Rock Sioux—is continually disregarded. The force used by the militarized police forces against the peaceful protestors has gradually escalated over the months, and I feel mounting concern around what means will be employed during next week’s attempted displacement. I give my thanks and prayers to those who are standing up for that most vital of necessities—water. The North American Indigenous tribes that have gathered together are fighting centuries of ongoing oppression, and in doing so are standing up to the fossil fuel industry and climate change. If that isn’t ample evidence that at the core of it their struggle is also our struggle, and as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, that we are all held within a web of mutuality, woven into a single garment of destiny, and that a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere—I don’t know what is. It’s tough being right in the middle of a time carrying such a sense of moral urgency, and trying to let myself be where I am, here, and fully sink in and embrace the experience while others are bravely putting their bodies on the line not just for the millions who rely on the Missouri River for their water supply, but for the well being of all, and the future generations to come.
I think that a news and social media fast will be necessary for much of my time here. I can jump back into the mix when I return home, hopefully with a clearer head and a renewed vitality to engage the world in a way that is helpful.
For now, I think it’s time to start looking into making a quick excursion to Cambodia before Linden gets here to join me on the 6th of December.
I can’t make any promises about how much I will be posting here… I’ll try to share all the major stuff 🙂
Thanks for chiming in…