Current somewhere: Bangkok.
In less than 24 hours since my sister and I arrived in the Thailand capital a few days ago, we already got stuck in the notorious Bangkok traffic. (And I thought Manila was the worst. Still it’s up there.) We’re staying in a relative’s apartment where the nearest BTS (the city’s sky train and MRT are absolutely heavensent) is about eight kilometers away. An eight-kilometer cab ride, which we discovered in the next few days, normally takes 20 to 30 minutes. But on that Friday morning, 30 minutes turned to an hour, an hour and a half, to when-will-this-cab-ride-end?!
We were not sure how far we were from our destination and whether we could just walk it. We would ask our taxi driver but he would just smile at us and say that traffic is really bad (which is infinitely better than the angry and clueless cab driver we got yesterday, ohmylord). At first, I occupied myself by taking pictures of anything interesting along the road that would catch my eye. Their versions of jeepneys, the campaign posters lining the road (the election is in a few days), the food stalls. The eager tourist in me making sure no time was wasted while stuck inside a cab.
But after an hour, eagerness turned to boredom. My sister, however, was way past boredom and was just in a state of agitation. I would tease her and tell her to take the time meditate. You can do silent retreats for 10 days, woman. Get a hold of yourself! In a particular stretch, we had not moved more than a few meters for almost 15 minutes when a monk in his orange garb came walking along the side of the road. He sat on the bench across the street and my sister pointed him out, wondering if I wanted to take a picture. I did.
For the next few minutes we just looked at him. Sitting there by the bench with his bags. Appearing all calm (at least that’s what I wanted to think) and far from agitated. I was back to eager tourist mode. I couldn’t wait to see more of the city. And I told my sister that it was probably sent to her to calm her down.
The past few days have been busy–going around the city, hopping on and off the MRT and BTS, hopping on and off a river cruise, weaving through mazes of little shops, weaving through a sprawling temple complex, sleeping late and waking up early (my travel ‘pakyaw’ mentality at it again), making the most of our time in Bangkok. (More posts about it in the next few days.) Getting stuck in that horrible traffic, while not the most productive way to spend one’s time, doesn’t have to be all that horrible. We got to slow down right before the flurry of activities for the next few days. The monk also helped.