City of Angels – the real name of Bangkok.
City of smiles – its nick-name.
City of traffic.
City (country) of noise.
This is the first thought that will come to mind of Bangkok once I leave.
It is unbelievable how much traffic there is here. It can take 1 hour to go 1 mile some days. Mostly it is unpredictable too, as some days you just seem to sail through, when you’re not expecting too.
And noise – wow.
The day starts with the small street type vendors that pedal their wares (and I do mean pedal) around the streets on their trolleys attached to the front of bikes, beeping and honking horns to let you know they are there. They sell brushes, or pans, or sundry hardware, or almost anything and they start at about 5:30 AM.
Then there are the security people who are at the front and rear entrances of every apartment block; and sometimes even some single family dwellings. These people are given a whistle as a “badge” of their importance. The more they blow the whistle, the greater their social significance.
Their job is actually to direct traffic into and out of their grounds. This is done by wandering around streetside, pretending to have police authority by waving the arms about, and blowing the whistle as loud as possible. They step bravely out into traffic to try to get it to stop to let cars out; and will step into the traffic equally as bravely to wave cars (who already know they are turning – they’re indicating) into the building. They also blow their whistle at traffic jams by the building, to encourage them to get moving (really!) and sometimes blow their whistles when there is not even anyone around, presumably to drum up business, or possibly to appease the traffic spirits who have deprived them of other reasons to blow the whistle at that point.
And not to forget the garage and supermarket fore-courts that put on promotional displays of various sorts. This involves setting up several (very tinny sounding) LOUD speakers and playing continuous music (of the bangy/crashy Asian type) louder than the system is specified to function. On top of this several people, again of the arm waving/whistling type, strut around their territory blowing and waving furiously. These are obviously either security guards that have failed, or that got promoted – haven’t quite figured this one out yet. This time, however, the fun goes one step further and the strutters are given microphones, connected to the music system, so that they can bawl out specials and jingles at the customers. The organizers do not take any hints that this is noise pollution from the throngs of visitors walking the car park or whatever with their fingers in their ears.
Amusingly, every approaching car, entering or leaving the space under bombardment gets personal attention with exaggerated waved directions about where to park, or which pump to go to, or how to get out. If it wasn’t so awful it could make a great “funniest home video”.
Add to all of this the “straight through” exhausts (I’m not sure this is purposeful – bangers abound here) and the screaming scooters/motor bikes, etc. and this place is quite something.
Role on the next weekend at the beach (going to an Island on the 26th for 2 nights).
The weather is great now though. A cool 28 degrees, and lots of sun. Haven’t seen rain for about 4 weeks now.