What to say about Bangkok? Where to even begin...?
A megawatt city of epic proportions. It never sleeps. It never stops. From the moment your feet touch its squalid pavement, it is as if the pulsating heart of the city would suddenly become aware of a newcomer. Someone who has never been here before. A first-timer. The heart is excited, just as you are. You can feel its reverberating, never-ending thumping beneath your soles and throughout your body. It teases you. It dares you. It dares you to go ahead and try to match your own heartbeat with its rhythm. So, courageously you strive forwards, delving into Bangkok's depths and uncovering its secrets. You do your best not to be overrun by its sheer overwhelming size; its hustle and bustle; its insanity. A billion impressions are hurtling themselves at you from every side, all of them competing for your attention, all of them trying to make an imprint in your memory and to touch upon your soul.
What else could you expect from a city whose original name is so complex that even its residents mostly cannot repeat it from the heart without peeking on a cheat-sheet (I am not even making this up - see here). Bangkok is a city of, well, everything. What is special about it is that “everything” is not neatly packed in separate corners of it, like in well-mannered, frivolously organized European cities. In Bangkok, everything is bundled together in one big exciting bunch, just waiting to be sieved through and explored. Stylish apartment buildings are just a step away from degraded homes and dirty narrow streets. Chic expensive western hotels rub shoulders with sleazy massage parlors and erotic bars. Classy high-priced rooftop bars with amazing views of the city extend their sleek necks from the street level cramming with lively pubs where alcohol flows like the Chao Praya river. Scents of exotic spices, delicious food, flowers, and perfumes are interluded by smelly waves of dirt and pollution. Streets are filled with cars, while motorbikes and tuk-tuks zoom among them in seemingly complete chaos, and yet it somehow all works out. Countless street vendors offer their products, food stalls take care of the hungry, and alluring bodies of all genders take care of those with other carnal needs in mind.
Bangkok is fucking crazy, yet alluring. Exhausting, yet exciting. Squalid, yet clear. It has a beautiful face as well as an ugly one, and it proudly shows both of them, trying to hide nothing. It is surely not for everyone, but then again, what is? Either you like it or you hate it.
When I left Bangkok after a week, at first I felt relieved, like being able to breathe again and take a rest from its relentless tempo. But it did not take long before I secretly began to miss it. As I managed to squeeze out of its grip and as my feet no longer tread its streets, almost immediately I once again wished I could feel its heartbeat and listen to its thumping echoing in me.
For that which challenges you, that which dares you, also makes you feel most alive.