Thursday, January 19, 2006

Panda Sex and Thai Reality Television

Being back in Thailand is like hooking up with an ex-boyfriend, comfortable and familiar, but lacking that original spark. Still, as I wait in Bangkok for my Indian visa to be processed, there have been moments to remind me why I fell in love with Thailand in the first place.

Always the benchmark for serious journalism, on the flight in I was not surprised to see that the front page of the Bangkok Post featured a photo of two pandas having sex, full-on going at it. The accompanying article explained that this was the first time the Chiang Mai zoo's pandas had mated. In true Bangkok Post style, the story included a detailed description of how the pandas had sex. Clearly front page stuff.

The other front page story was that Thailand's leader is participating in a reality television series. In an effort to boost sagging polls, he is in a poor part of the country randomly giving away money and land. Cameras will follow the leader for days and will even show scenes of him bathing. Could you see Paul Martin doing this?

Much of what I loved about Thailand was there as I walked through Bangkok's streets the past few days - the Buddhist monks wrapped in their saffron robes with their shaved heads, sitting cross-legged, thin like stick men, reading a book under a tree - smiling tuk-tuk drivers calling out "Hello Cindarella!" to me from across the street - vendors, packed onto sidewalks, deep frying springrolls, dishing up curry and serving sweets to uniformed Thai children after the school day - men playing Thai chess in the park to escape the heat - the sweet smell of the Bangkok streets, strangely reminding me of baking, a mix of incense, cooking oil and fish sauce - kids splashing and laughing as they wash clothes in the river - the sun setting behind Wat Arun, causing a hazy silhouette of the temple against the river.

But just like any ex-boyfriend, I am also reminded of some of the things that I didn't like in Bangkok the first time - the way your throat hurts from the pollution at the end of the day, the nouveau-hippies (as I described to Matt in an e-mail) that walk around barefoot in fraying clothes and dirty rags wrapped around their heads - styrafoam containers and plastic bags floating in the filthy river - and, of course, the mangy homeless street dogs that sniff me, stare at me with their black empty eyes and that insist on sitting next to me as they raise their back leg to lazily scratch the fleas behind their ears.

Ahhh the Bangkok I ever remember the Bangkok dogs. Those dogs alone were grounds for the break up in the first place.


Blogger mom said...

Snowing in Tokyo. Finally decided to read your complete Blog. One comment or should I say quesion. Are you really my child?

8:32 PM  
Blogger Krystyne said...

Della, it is 9 degrees celcius here in Toronto....Sucks. Spring like weather.... Those dogs sound so sad... :(

7:59 PM  

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