The mysterious and romantic East
Oh, but it is, it is!
Well, the massive traffic jams straight ahead out the window aren't romantic, though it is mysterious to me why anybody would put up with them. (Actually, Bangkok's transport system is genuinely heroic: The Skytrain, with its arctic air conditioning -- a class marker, in Thailand -- and relatively affluent ridership damaging their brains with the telescreens that play advertising for skin whitening products, etc., in between the announcements for stops -- is the big story, but it's not the real story. The real story is an incredibly flexible and resilient system of multi-tier-payment buses, cabs, "tuk tuks", and motorcycles that somehow flows itself around the blockages created by those bloated contraptions of steel, rubber, and oil that we call "the automobile." ("Auto," eh? "You don't drive this alone.") We filled in the canals in the "Venice of the East" for "that new car smell"? Well, no, we didn't. We filled in the canals for real estate speculation. But I digress. )
The ubiquitous cellphone -- another flexible and resilient network, if one thinks about it -- is to the left of the frame. Ahead, the driver's cabin, which has the flavor of the rural pickup the driver would probably be driving if he didn't have this great job in the big city. Which he does, he does! Every time he puts the bus in gear, he bangs the steering wheel, hard. Perhaps he thinks of his bus as a water buffalo? We see the bananas, the cooler, and at the top right, the edge of the speakers the driver has rigged up so that the entire bus can hear the car radio he's ripped out from under some dashboard and wired up to them. Playing absolutely spectacular, world-class, popular music from a singer who's like a combination of Edith Piaf and Diana Ross, if you can imagine such a thing. Thai is a tonal language, so who knows what the tones mean? My Western ears hear longing and despair and hope. And great maturity. Dove sono, with guitars. Probably the singer was big when the driver was young, before rock and roll and K-Pop ear worms infested everything. But these passengers don't want to hear that, now, do they?
On another note, here's a picture of Thai people having chowed down, chowing down, or preparing to chow down, a majpr pre-occupation here -- the street food being prepared and delivered by another awesomely flexible and resilient system of, it has to be said, very low margin operators. And the 7/11 is right around the corner. It's got air-con!
This is soi 38, which seems to be the "street of the moment" for food, in trendy Thong Lor.