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Chinatown: Smells and Sights

Mostly sights - since nobody has yet figured how to share smells over time and space... or have we?

So [as warned by my Aunt] we are here during the tail-end of the rainy season. More often than not, our afternoons have been spent cooped up in our room listening to the pounding rain, taking a cat nap or rinsing the sticky sweat and city slick from our bodies. I haven't yet figured how to frame this scenario to be relaxing and pleasant; at present it fills me with yearning and anxiety to be out perusing and eating and snapping photos in this uncharted territory.

When the rain finally let's up it leaves murky, mystery water puddles in the craters and divots of the uneven, broken, and sometimes seemingly jagged Bangkok-sidewalk terrain. While carefully skipping over these puddles and pot-holes in flip flops, dodging the run-off from over head awnings poses another challenge to stay dry. Simultaneously navigating the two-way walking traffic on narrow sidewalks in between street vendors frying up pieces of pork in a wok full of scorching oil, walking briskly through the exhaust of countless taxis, tuk tuks, and motorbikes to keep pace with the melange of locals and tourists. A woman wearing a surgical mask walks out of a restaurant with a steaming bowl of noodle soup in her hand, behind her trails a delicious and savory essence that disappears as she walks into a store front several doors down. A delivery perhaps. Soon the idea of a heartwarming soup is completely banished by the hot steam rising from a street sewer emanating a fermented seafood and questionable waste stench. This is Yaowarat Road in Chinatown, Bangkok.

Countless stores on both sides of the road full of gleaming 24-karat gold jewelry, window fronts displaying large dried Shark fins despite the ecological controversy, roasted chestnuts spinning in large vats, gigantic prawns over a charcoal grill on the street corner, fruit, lots of fruit, noodle shops up the wazoo.

Navigating down several side streets brought us upon some sights that I regrettably decided not to capture. One of them being a pseudo sidewalk-threading salon. Several men and women sat in plastic chairs with their faces painted with a white chalky mask as they had their eye brows, foreheads, chins and upper-lips threaded. I even felt tempted to take a seat but the reciprocated gazes and stares as we walked past prompted me to continue on. On this same sidewalk blankets lined the curb with individuals selling what seemed to be a knapsack inventory of talismen, trinkets, old watches, and other odd ends. Down another alley were endless small storage-facility style stores selling wholesale items i.e. shoes, gift items, clothing, phone accessories and more shoes.

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