Monday, January 27, 2014

Bangkok, City of 1000 Smells

We arrived in Bangkok late in the evening, far later than the bus company had published. The sun had already faded away into the grey murkiness that surrounded the city - a dull scarlet orb that gradually yielded to the enfolding haze. We were left in a public square thronged with street vendors and billboards and windows that peered deeper and deeper out of the inky darkness above us.

More powerful than the darkness, though, were the smells. Alleys vomited the debris of markets onto the square, busses and tuk tuks left ephemeral trails of diesel dust,  food carts served their wares over trickles of brackish liquid, and beyond that the subtle scents of river and flowers melted into the background. Curry and car exhaust, incense and fetid water and jasmine, frying meat and cook fires and motor oil and bread pierced by acrid, human odors.

My stomach had not enjoyed the last day in Cambodia and probably left me excessively sensitive to such things, but my main memory of Bangkok is of an overwhelmingly and unpleasantly odorous city. I am glad we only spent one night there before heading off to adventure in Thailand's northern hill country.

(Post by Josh)

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