My watch stopped working again. And so, it seems, has my body.
I arrived in Bangkok as scheduled without difficulties until I got to my hotel. It took them a while to find my reservation, after insisting they didn't have it and after my insisting that I'd already made online payment.
Krit was waiting for me to call about dinner and I also wanted to call Mutsumi. So I decided to go out to nearby Khao San Road to get a phone card, make some calls, and welcome myself to Bangkok.
By the time I got back to the hotel less than an hour later I was hyper-stimulated by the traffic, the noise, the lights, the people, the smells. Kathmandu is such a quiet place by comparison. Mutsumi said I sounded like the country bumpkin overwhelmed by the big city. And that is exactly what I was. (Interestingly, Krit and Knot, who grew up here, claimed to have had similar reactions when they returned to Bangkok six weeks ago after a couple of years living in Savannah and the Atlanta suburbs.)
I slept little that night and decided that since my first day in country was already a write off, I might as well spend it shopping, which I dislike in any case and which wouldn't ruin an otherwise fine day. I called a tailor advertised in the in-flight magazine to come and pick me up for measurements. I waited 90 minutes and then decided to go to the malls. I must have visited at least a dozen shoe shops only to find only a few selections in my size, none in styles to my liking. So, Day 1 was no sleep, no suit, no shoes.
Got back to the hotel, took a dip in the pool, ate a plate of fried veggies and rice, and went to bed. I slept fitfully, but I slept. Woke up around 04:00 with diarrhea, which a dose of loperamide seems to have cured. After breakfast I went to a bookstore I had read about on the internet that specializes in Buddhist books, but the selection was anemic. On the way back to the hotel I checked out Khao San Road for shoes. One of the girls at the front desk noted that there are some shops there selling brand knock-offs, mostly for foreigners. Which I found. I didn't, though, find any shoes my size. Went back to the hotel, napped, read, and waited for Krit, Knot and Peung to show up for dinner. They took me to a little hole-in-the-wall family run restaurant that served up some tasty Thai home cooking. So, Day 2 was a little better. I met old friends and had a nice meal. But no books, no shoes, and no clear head.
Day 3, today, started again at 04:00, again with diarrhea, but this time more severe than Day 2's. Loperamide didn't seem to help, so around 09:00 I was off in search of pharmacy and some antibiotics, which seem to have conquered the runs for now. It's now nearly 18:00 and I haven't had to make a dash for the bathroom since this morning, most of which I slept off after getting back from the pharmacy. In the afternoon I went to another bookstore recommended on the internet and was again under whelmed by the tiny collection.
And now here I am at a large, brightly lit, western-style shopping mall sipping a frozen blueberry/yogurt concoction and detailing what has to be the most disappointing visit to Bangkok, or any other destination, that I've had the misfortunate to experience.
I was looking forward to stopping here to enjoy the heat, which has done nothing but make more miserable my sleep-deprived, diarrheal body; I was planning to pick up a suit and shoes, but all I’ve gotten in my shopping are some antibiotics; I chose my hotel based on its having a pool, which I haven't been able to enjoy; and my hope to indulge in the local cuisine has been confined to the hotel breakfast buffet.
I've got one day left. My fervent prayer is for a good night's sleep, no more diarrhea, and a decent meal before I board my plane Saturday night. I guess there’s hardly any need to say that I hope you're doing better.