Shopping Through Windows in BKK

image  So you’re in Bangkok, and you get a sudden craving for a Krispy Kreme chocolate frosted banana cream donut. Or a new pair of your favorite Gap jeans. Or a Maserati.

Well, just get right on the BTS Sky Train to Siam station and head for the Siam Paragon Mall. You can get all of the above there, as well as some new Jimmy Choo high (higher, highest) heels, exquisite woven silk wall-coverings, maybe a little Japanese, Italian, French, gourmet Chinese or pan-Asian fusion cuisine, and a Rolls Royce to drive yourself home. That Ferrari was sweet, but so very small, don’t you think?

image  I began my day taking the river taxi from my hotel in the Arab quarter to the center city’s soaring towers of commerce. Just below the traffic-congested streets of Bangkok, the klong (canal) system is the oldest means of travel in the city and arguably the most pleasant – quiet, fast and cheap. (12 Baht, about 40 cents, one way – the sky train is 75 Baht, or $2.50, for the same trip.) The boats tend to be rather crowded, and getting on and off requires a clever little two-steps-and-a-hop that was quite a challenge for this old girl, but I really enjoyed using this historic way of getting around town.

Then breakfast, a cup of iced espresso and a chocolate croissant that I shared with some fancy carp in a pool filled with water-lilies. Bangkok is like that: the overall is noisy, crammed and smog-clotted, but the details are magnificent.

imageFollowing that, it was endless escalators and glass-bubble lifts; astonishing prices; stunning gemstones; fashions for women far, far thinner than me, and some really nice shiny cars. (I do want to know how they got that Maserati to the fifth floor.) For the most part I didn’t see much that I couldn’t have gotten at any high-end mall in the States, and I bought nothing but a very nifty dinosaur t-shirt for Michael from Tokyu, the Filene’s Basement of Bangkok. The whole of Asia comes here to shop, though, so I had a good time just watching the nations of women go by. A goodly number of Thais too, especially school-girls in their crisp white puff-sleeved blouses and pleated navy skirts, clearly dreaming of a day when they will dress in a more resplendent manner.

Now I’m back where I belong, in my neighborhood of faux designer goods sold in street stalls, where 500 Baht is still a lot of money.

Tomorrow, the dentist.

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A Big Map of Some Rather Small Countries

Amazon delivered a HUGE map of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, & Vietnam Nam on Wednesday, and I’ve put it up on my wall with those little removable foam widgies. I’m booked to go to Thailand for a month starting on the 16th, G*d willing, but now it seems the month will be not long enough – not nearly, for all the routes and journeys I can now see if I turn my office chair just a quarter way to face the map rather than the computer.

What their pin-up girls were to WWII soldiers, this map is to me: a reminder that there’s a better world a- waiting if I just step out my door and keep on going.