Before I left Sydney a week ago I wrote about travelling to Bangkok. I’m here now, 6 days later, having been on a bus & boat tour of Ayutthaya, the previous capitol of Siam, spent most of the day with a lovely couple from a country town near Dusseldorf, extending my use of conversational German, and lastly to be told that most tourists only spend three days here.
I can see why; the air quality these last 2 days was officially classified as between unhealthy and dangerous. The temp midday was 34 deg; the noise of tuk-tuks, the motorised utility capable of carrying four tourists in an open air double seater, pedestrians, hawkers, was something which left me frazzled and querulous; it culminated in a session of atrial fibrillation that lasted 18 hours, usually it reverted during sleep. Finally I sat up in my hotel room seat and began to meditate crosslegged; after half an hour [?] I again felt a stable rhythm. The nasty lightheadedness and shallow breathing is something to be avoided at all costs.
A certain same old same old is settling into my interaction with the country; here and there the old teak houses of colonial days survives; in tropical conditions the splendid timber blackens depressingly; only with museum care does it achieve its optimal deep red gloss.
Yesterday at the National Museum there were the Buddha images; such a United Nations variety of them, Afghanistan, Burma, India. The profusion was boggling, despite the lack of aircon and decent lighting; amongst them all I remembered the seminal moment in the Athens Archeological Museum on confronting a bronze Apollo found at the bottom of Pireaus harbour, the realisation of a unique experience, a real confrontation. The equivalent here was a sculpture of Krishna, god of love, the flute player, beloved of all ketoy. His face expressed such a promise of love, that seemed to transcend its medium.
Methinks he spoke for things Thai: there is tedium, ugliness, poverty, then turn the corner and things are magically transformed with beauty, perfume, promise.