National Stadium stop on the Skytrain in central Bangkok is packed at all hours of the day and night. With a population of 14 million in the city, there’s always movement and excitement. The trains – with announcements in Thai and English – are so air-conditioned my glasses frost up when I step inside. What a welcome relief from the weight of humid heat on the crazy-busy streets.
Sidewalks on Soi 16 are just a suggestion and every couple of meters, we have to step into the street and straddle the v-shaped concrete ‘drain’ that runs beside the broken interlocking paving stones. Aside from a few random piles of dog poop and the occasional scurrying rat, the sidewalks are relatively clean.
On Sukhumvit, the eight-lane main drag, clogged day and night with vehicles and motorcycles, there’s a pall of smoke when the air is still. Bangkok is one of my favourite places – vibrant, incredibly crowded and bustling, colourful and scented with cooking food from the sidewalk stalls.
Inside, MBK is as chaotic as ever. Not every knock-off is perfect, obviously – we say t-shirts that read MINON rather than MINION, and I know it wasn’t concern over copyright. Much of the designer schmatta is made in Asia and if a few hundred logo products find their way into a discount hive marketplace, well, that’s simple commerce. There is so much designer branded and trademarked merchandise available, but that’s the cost of commerce.
The latest Hollywood movies are available for sale for about $10. Seven floors of captivating, noisy, blinking excess.
But don’t shoplift. If they catch you, it could be expensive. The justice system in Thailand is swift and severe – throw a cigarette butt on the sidewalk and an enforcement officer will pop out of the shadows and hand you a 70TB (Thai Bat @ $2).
Still, this is one of my favourite cities in the world.