Why is my head in Africa lately? In part, I have a simple problem with being settled; no matter how much I love where I am, I'm always thinking about somewhere else. Thankfully, Bangkok is exotic enough to keep my wanderlust satisfied. Last weekend Bordeaux and I took advantage of the city's cosmopolitanism, as we crossed to the other side of town to visit Chinatown and Pahurat, Bangkok's Indian enclave.
You can tell you've arrived in Chinatown by the warm smell of spices and herbs permeating the air. The streets are lined with herbal medicine shops, their dark antique wood cases stuffed with strange ingredients: golden colored roots, ground leaves, and dried out sea creatures. This area has a number of incrediblly beautiful buildings. Aside from the ornate Chinese temples, there are blocks of buildings from the early 20th century. Some are left clad in muted faded tones, and some have been freshly painted in eye-grabbing hues.
The sidewalks of both Chinatown and Pahurat are crowded with vendor's tables. There were stands selling t-shirts, used appliances, and Barbie dolls dressed like Thai school girls. Somewhat more photogenically, there were all sorts of foods for sale, like steamed desserts, sizzling satays, and juicy, freshly sliced pomelos. While we didn't get to try much of the street-food, Bordeaux and I picked up some pistachio-filled Indian desserts from an alley stand after lunch. As I bit into the first one, a woman on a passing motorcycle smiled at me, and said "Good, yes?"
The main reason for our visit was to buy some fabric for Bordeaux's latest sewing projects. Paharut has a well-deserved reputation as the place to go to buy cloth and fabric; it boasts an impressive fabric market, packed with reams and reams of cloth in an amazing array of colors and patterns. After spending several hours among the maze of dark alleys in the fabric market, we emerged with several yards of cloth, coordinating zippers, and spools of brightly colored thread. For Bordeaux's side of the story, check out his blog.