An American Abroad

Bangkok 5

Sukumvit Road is supposed to be one of the longest streets in the world. I doubt that, but it’s long enough to pass through many worlds. My hotel is at the nexus of several of these. It’s located at the edge of the Arab tourist quarter. There are Omani, Persian, Lebanese and Iraqi restaurants. There are hotels with names out of the 1001 Nights. There are many shops with Arabic signage. But most incongruously are the Arab women dressed in full black niqabs, through which only the eyes are visible. Watching one of them pass by a ladyboy prostitute, who is wearing a tight low-cut minidress and high-heeled boots, I wonder what is going through both of their minds. Do they disapprove of each other? Feel threatened by each other? Envy each other? Attempt to blot the other out of their memories?

Another direction out my hotel door leads quickly to an Indian district, where I indulge my major weakness for Indian food. Sikh tailors stand in the doorways to their shops, offering to cut the best suits for me at bargain prices.

The sidewalks are jammed with people and market stalls. T-shirts, beard trimmers, pirated DVDs, sex toys, placemats, realistic replicas of popular guns, jewelry, postcards, Viagra, baby clothes, phony high-end watches, electronic accessories, wooden elephants, cigarette lighters, martial arts paraphernalia, Buddhas, and hijabs are all on offer.
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At one corner by the golden arches, Ronald McDonald welcomes the hungry with his palms pressed together in a traditional wai.
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(Ahead to Bangkok 6)

(Back to Bangkok 4)


  1. I think that the Ronald McDonald is one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen…

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