Bangkok: return, cities, transitions

October 9, 2023

We arrived on Friday late afternoon.  What was supposed to be a six and half hours drive ended up taking eight hours and a half, with at least five of heavy rain.  It was raining when we departed Sara Resort and it was raining, heavily, when we finally got home. The street where we live had been transformed into a small river.  

We were delayed because of heavier than rain traffic.  It started as we approached Bangkok and was so dense that sometimes we just din’t move.  Going through the last 30 miles of the trip took close to two hours. Much, much worse than being becalmed at sea.  

Cities struggle to find the right balance between infrastructure and nature.  Nature lost the fight in Bangkok, a city of cement, asphalt, and concrete. You see it coming, even before you enter the city and face the buildings and skyscrapers across the Chao Phraya river; the massive columns that hold the rails of the BTS — Bangkok Mass Transit System – extend far into the suburbs.  Because of traffic, having the BTS is convenient; we use it all the time when moving around the city.  Once plates and my driving license are sorted out I will start using the motor bike that came from Beirut, but for now our main transportation system is the BTS.  From an aesthetics point of view, however, it is a disaster.  Contrary to a metro hidden underground, the horrendous infrastructure supporting the trains is there in your face, a monstrosity in the middle of the city.  There is no scape, and no number of plants or threes underneath can make it better; it is quite oppressive.

There is a small database of “green space” by city but could not find Bangkok in there.  I learned, though, that one of the cities with the highest share of green pace is Oslo (68%), and one with the lowest is Istanbul (2%).  San Francisco has 13%, New York 27%, and Tokyo 7%.  Bangkok must also be below 10%. 

Woland didn’t like the transition.  He was an exemplary dog during the trip, spending most of his time sleeping or munching on one of his toys in the back seat, with Natalia or me, whoever was off driving, by his side.  We made only three short stops to buy coffee and for him to pee.  But when we arrived to the building where we live in Bangkok he became fazed.  I tried to bring him to an open area with grass to pee, but it was raining hard and he didn’t want to get wet.  Back inside the building he didn’t want to enter the elevator and once forced inside he started howling.  In the apartment he was restless, scared by the view through the windows (like me he has vertigo), and I was worried that he might pee in one of the carpets.  It took a few tries for him to settle down, enter the elevator of his own volition, and  use the open green area outside the building to relieve himself and eliminate.

I didn’t like the transition either.    Back in Phuket, when he woke up in the morning – between 5:30 and 6:30am – Natalia or I would just open the room’s French door and walk with him into the patio.  Here in the apartment, it’s a bit more complicated.  You must use the elevator to go down to the green area and need to cross public spaces.  Since there might neighbors, the concierge, or security around, you can’t be naked or wearing pajamas.  Before taking him out for a pee, you have to dress and wear shoes.

But I know we will adapt; we always do.  For a starter, we joined a dog-park around the corner.  Joined, as in becoming members and paying fees, because here these parks are private.  They don’t have a big space but there are other dogs.  It won’t be the same as playing at the beach –he misses the waves and the long walks, so do I –, but it will help.   At the same time, this is just a temporary situation.  Soon enough we will be traveling to DC and eventually Ecuador and Cartagena.  The ocean is waiting.

The picture is of our last sunset and dinner at the beach in Phuket. I don’t have new pics from Bangkok.

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