I started my journal on the flight to Helsinki and then left the notebook on the plane to Bangkok. It was a nice one from that paper shop near the Ajuntamento. Anyway, I was thoroughly annoyed with myself.
In Helsinki I went to the Finn Air Lounge and had beet soup and a cookie surrounded by Asians of all varieties eating lasagna and smoked salmon. My jet lag has, by the way, swallowed my spelling abilities. As I finished my snack a British couple, he very nice looking she calculatedly plain, who had an aura of oddness about them came to sit near me. She went to get them food. As he angled and re-angled himself to get into his stool it became apparent that what was odd was that he was drunk. She may have been too but less than he. He turned and said something to me, which was totally incomprehensible. He then paused, got his mouth under control and announced, “I hate Chinese.” Since we were surrounded by many who probably were Chinese, I am still after all these years inadequate at telling the difference between various Asian groups, this was a startling conversation opener. I inadequately responded, ” Well, I supposed you could hate anyone you want.“ For some reason this silenced him. Five minutes later I thought of what I should have said, “I hate drunks.”
I removed myself to my gate, where I became imbedded in a mob of Thai speakers and their children in a happy hubbub.
The flight was fine, although I slept little. The food was good but the best was breakfast with a bagel heaped with small shrimp and fennel salad that I adore. They had The Seventh Seal on their movie list. I watched it for the first time in about 40 or 50 years. It is still superb.
Walking out of the airport in Bangkok was like walking into the gentle embrace of a large, very warm, damp bear. I had no difficult getting to the A One Inn where I was greeted by Khun Fai who had expected me yesterday. I had forgotten to tell her it was an overnight flight.
Before I left Barcelona people asked me if I was excited. I wasn’t, just content to be going to Bangkok and then to be in Bangkok until I got out into the soi and began to see and recognize things—the banyan tree hung with offerings, tables where people eat from the food carts, the scrawny cats with their knotted tails, the woman who sells rambutans and longans.
I took the Sky Train to the Paragon Mall—I immediately become a mall rat in Bangkok—where I had a lovey lunch at Bao’s Beans, meaning coffee beans, of crab, shrimp and noodle curry. This is not Western noodles but thin, broad slightly glutinous Thai noodles that soak up the curry. I was seated at the outside perimeter of the restaurant, which meant that I received the full impact of Thais happily circulating in search of the right restaurant in the basement food court of the Paragon. The noise is pandemonium. Across the way at another restaurant a young woman was lunching with two men friends, one, attractive but not outrageously handsome, had on a pair of rhinestone earrings that became him very well with his dark skin.
After lunch I walked among the restaurants enjoying the bustle and the variety—What’s for Dessert, The Durian, MK’s that has excellent shabushabu, the Mandarin Oriental pastry shop, several Japanese restaurants, a Swensen’s Ice Cream place. Then I went into the Gourmet Market inhaling at the durian aisle, admiring the monstrously perfect peaches, rejecting the humungous carrots in cellophane, to find my rucala, cherry tomatoes, smoked salmon, brie and yogurt.
I just saw my old landlord and wife from the no longer existing Bed and Breakfast walk by. Night has fallen and the soi is full of Scaparelli pink and lime green taxis.