Swatdee Kaa (Hello in Thai)!
I did this for my NYU Stern essay and I have done it prior (subconsciously) and now I actually consciously realize that I do it all the time: I analyze things by categorizing them according to how they appeal to my different senses, ultimately combining the senses to deliver a final response. For my NYU essay, for example, I dissected my personality and self according to senses (e.g. The sense of hearing was conveyed by an attached CD with sounds that defined me).
Therefore, let’s dissect Bangkok accordingly.
Taste: Being the food-lover that I am, I have to start with the taste. The taste of Bangkok is eclectic and original. It is best enjoyed through maneuvering a cramped street replete with street vendors selling anything from Rambutan (a lichee-like tropical fruit) to the staple Pad Thai. The concept of street food is almost similar to that of Spanish Tapas – you go from vendor to vendor, eating small portions of their speciality until you find yourself full. The overall flavour is a blend of Sweet, Tangy, and Spicy. There is much, too much to write about food – an altogether new blog entry later.
Smell: The smell of Bangkok is heavily dependent on food (Thais, more than tourists, love eating out as the price of food here – especially that of the street – is ridiculous cheap). The smoky kebabs mix with the darkness of coffee. There isn’t a pungent stink (as is common sometimes in India) and the people smell surprisingly neutral (despite the heat). With Bangkok being very much a city – the smells come coated in a thin layer of smog.
See: There is a ton to see in Bangkok – ranging from the historic (and surprisingly ornate and beautifully maintained) Wats (temples), sparkling in the afternoon sun to the zig-zaggy streets that by day sell cheap souvenirs and by night sell cheap souvenirs. Sometimes called as Venice of the East due to muddy canals that we just found are also home to some grotesque animals (i.e. wild Komodo Dragons).
Hear: I find it personally odd being in a place that sounds a lot like India – with names rooted in Sanskrit – and being completely unable to neither understand nor pronounce the language. The Thais are also very quiet and speak softly. The voices, in turn, are drowned out by the wheels of the motors and the tuk-tuks (rickshaws) that dot the city. Blaring horns, however, are not common at all.
Touch: It is HOT! Not as humid as Mumbai but blisteringly hot. The sun beats down on my tourist skin with relish – turning me a shade darker every time it spots me. June is not supposed to be a summer month here (it signals the start of the Monsoon), so the heat is also somewhat unexpected. When it rains – there is a coolness in the air – but as soon as the rain stops, the heat is back with a vengeance.
Bangkok, my gateway into all things South East Asian, has served as an amazing starting point. I am thoroughly excited to immerse myself further into the East Asian culture and dig deeper to understand the nature of the people and their culture better. It also helps tremendously to be introduced into the city by a friend who has lived in Thailand for the last few months and can help to maneuver around the tourist traps!