Thursday, 23 September 2010

Thailand musings - observations and things forgotten

Well, we're back...I have a head that feels like it's full of cotton wool and I've picked up the dreaded lurgy somewhere along the way so have a blocked nose, sore throat and am feeling a bit crappy.....I can however, do THE most wonderful impression of 'Balcomb' from the Tunes advert! (Eeek, now I'm showing my age!). Anyhoo, this is not going to be a long post....just a few wee things that struck me about the place I called home for two and a half years....observations and things forgotten

I had forgotten about the weird and wonderful (ha, I say wonderful....) things that the humidity does to my hair! Seriously, I stepped off the plane and almost imediately I felt my hair go 'poof'...instant frizzyness...not a good look!

I had forgotten how Bangkok's very distinctive and I'm really not sure how to describe it! It's a mixture of heat (a kind of steamy wet smell...the one that you get when the kettle boils or you are making soup) combined with exhaust fumes, the aroma of cooking (think barbecued meat and stir fried chilli), dry fish (you have never smelled anything till you come across dry squid man...well, except durian but they are not in season at the moment!) and drain. It sounds awful but actually, and I don't know why this is, it's kinda wonderful!

The sheer joy of stepping outside at night and feeling the heat on your skin. Some of the restaurants and pubs really crank up the aircon and you can actually feel really quite cold......there is nothing nicer than opening the door and feeling the warm night air hitting your body...particulary your freezing feet!

Oh, talking about feet....Foot massages....simply divine!! We had one after spending two days walking around tired feet were revived and I could have danced out the shop (I didn't cause that would just have been weird but you know....I could have...if I'd wanted to!)

There were also a few things that made me really sad....

Seeing what was left of Central World after the troubles (For those of you that don't know Cental World is...was...a huge shopping centre in heart of the city that was completely destroyed when the red shirt protesters set fire to it). It has messages of hope written along the side of it but that only made me feel worse cause it's going to take a lot more than that to put the country right!

Another casualty of the troubles was the loss of yellow Mondays. Let me explain, the Thai's have colours for each day of the week and yellow is Monday's colour (it is also the colour of the King cause that was the day he was born). So on a Monday nearly everyone wore yellow shirts.....walking down the street used to be like moving in a sea of yellow but that doesn't happen anymore....I guess it's because it is now associated with which side of the political divide you are on (Red shirt or Yellow). (If your curious about what colour the other days are you can find out here)

The range of goods and the quality of what is available (on the streets that is) has dropped...not surpising really considering the number of tourists has also dropped significantly. The stalls used to pack up about midnight but some were packing up as early as ten on a Saturday night....unheard of when we were still living there!

Still, it was really interesting to see what had changed and what had not changed at all! The Thai hospitality and warmth was still there in abundance, the streets were still bustling (yes, I did still have to jump out the way to avoid getting a motorbike up the jacksie and yes, I was on the pavement at the time) and, I think it is safe to say, it will always hold a very special place in my heart!

I will blog more about our trip when I am feeling a bit more human!


Jenny Beattie said...

I don't notice some of those things because I'm here all the time. No Yellow Monday is really sad and the smell... hmmmm, it is wonderful even when it's horrid. That's a bit like durian, isn't it?

Juniper said...

The only bit of Thailand I have been to is Phuket (for the King's Cup Regatta), very different to Bangkok of course but parts of your post still evoked memories: the lovely warm air after stepping out of severe aircon; the massages - and they are the only people who've REALLY managed to clean my feet!; and the friendliness of the Thais.

Sadly I am foregoing my trip this December but hope to be out there for next year's regatta.


Tessa said...

Great post - thanks for sharing so we can travel vacariously! Lagos and Bankok smell very similar I remember. Just add the smell of rotting fruit to the mix and - voila - you have West Africa in the East!! So sad about the Central World - I bought 'designer' jeans by the bucketload for me and my girls...but that is dismally irrelevant particularly when one thinks of why it's in the state it is in now. Sigh. But so pleased you had a good time...frizzy hair an' all!

Sue Guiney said...

Can't wait to go back. Hopefully this coming February! xo

TALON said...

You write of it all so beautifully,Carol, that I feel like I'm with you. It's true about the scents of a place - they stay with us more than any other sense, I think. I'm glad you had a good trip and I'm sorry some things have changed and not in a good way. You can tell you love it there just by reading your words! Welcome back, frizzy hair and all - and I loved the cartoon - lol!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great post, Carol...I'm sorry you're still under the weather. When you were talking about the smells it reminded me of when a fish hit the prop on our boat and jumped in it. I had no idea that fish blood smelled like fish. It sounds silly...but I didn't expect there to be a fishy smell left in the boat...

Feel better soon!

French Fancy... said...

Oh welcome back you lovely woman. My trip to Bangkok was about 20 years ago but I still remember the smells - and of course my hair frizzed up straight away as well.

Did you manage to meet up with Moon?

Come back and tell us all about it when you catch your breath


ladyfi said...

OH, how I remember the smell of Bangkok! Sad to hear of the changes, but that delicious heat and hospitality sure is something else.

Hope you feel better SOON!

HelenMHunt said...

It must have been strange and wonderful to go back.

Carol said...

Jenny - Marisa said exactly the same thing when we were talking about it! When you live somewhere you don't see the changes because they happen so gradually...only when you go away and come back again that they are obvious!

Hehehe, yup...exactly like durian :-)

Juniper - *snigger* I am now wondering just how grubby your feet are!!

I've only passed through Phuket so don't know that area at all but I've heard the regatta is great.

Tessa - When I stepped out the taxi I really was astonished at how on earth I could have forgotten about the smell!! Funny isn't it...I wonder if it's because there is nothing in my part of the world that smells remotely like it therefore the memory is not jogged.

It is very sad and a very stark reminder! There was another protest in the area whilst we were there....we happened to be in the area and did get some great photos but I was quite anxious. Will blog about it later

Sue - Ooohhh how exciting! Will that be as part of your book tour? Wish I could be there!

Talon - Your absolutely right...a smell can transport you right back to a particular moment in time more vividly than any other sense. And your right, I do love the place...even if it turns my hair into something resembling a birds nest :-)

Sharon - Doesn't sound silly at all...I had no idea that fish blood would smell of fish! I've never really thought about it but I guess I just thought it would smell of blood!

French Fancy - Tis lovely to be back home! We had a wonderful time away and caught up with loads od old friends (Including Moon...she stayed with us for the entire two weeks and we went on a mini break with her) but I was surprised just how nice it was to come back to the UK. The trip re-enforced the things I loved about living there but it also reminded me of the things I didn't love about living there.

Ladyfi - It's so distinctive I honestly can't believe I had forgotten about it! The changes were very sad and we heard lots of stories about the troubles and how differently it's effected everyone. In saying that, it's still a magical place and I still love it!!

Helen - It almost felt like we had never been away which was very very weird!

C x

Marilyn said...

Sorry you have come back with the dreaded lurgy, hope you feel better very soon. It was interesting to read of your reactions to re-visiting Thailand,the differences you noticed as well as things that you realised that you missed or didn't miss. Enjoy being home and get well quickly.

Debs said...

Sorry you've got the lurgy, I hope it leaves you in peace soon.

I'm facinated by the different colours for different days, but it's a shame to hear there are so many changes in such a short time.

laurie said...

hey! we have the same hair!

Carol said...

Marilyn - It was bound to happen....loads of our friends were dropping like flies whilst we were out there! I'm feeling a bit better today so hopefully will be back to normal by next week.

It was interesting to see what changes there had and hadn't been!

Debs - Me too :-). I'm not sure why there are different colours but there are...I think it's kinda cool!

Laurie - LOL! I have spent many years wishing for poker straight, shiny locks but have now learned to live with my mop!

C x

Boonie S said...

Welcome back to Thailand.
Hope you're soon feeling better.
I agree absolutely about the smell. It was always the first thing I noticed when I arrived here from abroad, and very welcome it was too.

Carol said...

Bonnie - There is something very comforting about it isn't there :-)

C x

Juniper said...

Hi Carol, I have awarded your blog an - er - award! You can find the details in my latest post 24 Sept.

Dreams and Reality

Thanks for a great blog!



Ayak said...

So pleasedyou had a lovely time. Smells do it for me's always the smells that I remember about different places.

Carol said...

Juniper - Ooohhh an award!! Thank you very much my dear...I shall be right over to get it :-D

Ayak - We had an absolute ball!! Ate and drank far too much but enjoyed every single minute of it!!

Smells are so evocative aren't they!

C x

Mel said...

Well, I've not been--but I now have a taste (and smell) of the land. And a good feel of your love of it, ty.

Welcome home. I'm sure the hair will calm down again--either that or it'll be 'bed-head' from the rest required getting over that dreaded lurgy! (ya poor thing!)

Amanda said...

Ooh, hope you are feeling better, Carol. Loving the likeness to Crystal Tips hair. And jealous of the foot massage! Glad you enjoyed your trip. x

LilyS said...

Those foot massages look sooo nice (saw it on telly once) and the food markets look yummy. I must go one day.

Hope you feel better soon x

Carol said...

Mel - It's a wonderful place and I can heartily recommend visiting it :-)

Hehehe, I am very glad to report that my hair is starting to look normal (but only just startin to).

Amanda - Still feeling pretty awful but I'm sure a few days in the house will help get rid!

The likeness to Crystal Tips is a rather scary one....far too like her for my liking!!

Lily - Oh they are....till you get a wee Thai woman with thumbs of steel!. Yep, you really must visit one day...I think you would love it!

C x

Lane said...

What wonderful descriptions of the smell. I had no idea - but I do now.

And the evening heat sounds wonderful.

Hope you're feeling better soon m'dear.

Mark said...

I think it is always nice to return. Things change and so do we, but that makes it all the better.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

LOL, Carol--What does blood smell like? In fish, it smells like fish...ick!(PS: I'm glad Macy made you smile today.)

JJ said...

Carol: I love your site, your drawings, and your writing. I would like to follow along. Thanks.

Carol said...

Lane - Hehehe, has it's own unique smell and I totally love it!

The evening heat is wonderful but odd....going outside at 2am and it's still roasting does feel kinda wrong :-)

Mark - That's very true. I do think I looked at it through different eyes having been away for a while. It was great visiting but I was happy to come home again which surprised me a little.

Sharon - a bit metalic and erm warm and sticky (no...I have no idea how something can smell sticky either but hey...)

I needed that smile today...Uni was severely trying my patience!

JJ - Welcome and thank you for leaving such a lovely comment *blushes*. I shall now pop over to your blog for a nosey :-)

C x

SpiralSkies said...

Going 'back' can often be a strange experience but I'm glad your blog post sounds as if it was written with a smile.

Hope you (and your hair!) are on the mend X

trousers said...

Well this might have been a brief post, but it's very evocative. I've never been to Thailand but you provide a vivid description of what sounds like a very mixed feast for the senses!

Carol said...

Spiral - It was a strange expereince but mostly in a very good way! It was fab seeing everyone, visiting the temples and going to all our old haunts. The great thing was that, unlike most holidays, we didn't need to try to work out how to get about or where would be good to eat cause we knew it all already :-)

Trousers - Hehehe, that is a very good way of describing Bangkok...'a mixed feast for the senses'...I love it!

C x

D.J. Kirkby said...

I thought I had left a comment here but it's vanished. Sorry you're feeling awful, that is a nasty lurgy going round. xo

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