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One Songkran (Thai newyear festival) night in Bangkok - 15 April 2006 Back to stories index

It was 14 April 2006. At 2:30 a.m. I decided to go home. There were still lot of works to do, for example to modify the 300 something cheap looking web pages, to update a couple of my clients' web sites, to clean the room - which is one of our traditional activities at this newyear period, and to finish making book cases. Yes we make book cases ourselves.

At the minimart at the street corner I met the usual counter-girl who asked me what did I do to go home at this time everyday. I told her I was doing kinds of Internet, writing something. She just smiled. I paid for food and left.

The full moon could be seen through the clouds. The place was quieter and darker than it was on any other day. The intersection with the narrow street leading to Peep Inn was guarded by two browny dogs. The building where a bank used to be was in the middle of demolishing and there was no sign of workers staying there. The mostly north-easterners work team was going home for reunion with their families.

A small cluster of open air restaurants - also mainly from E-sarn (north-eastern Thailand) was empty except for a skinny stray dog looking for left-over food. A dog far inside the dimmly litted Soi (side street) barked two times. I continued walking the two-feet wide platform littered with freshly left empty beer cans, alcohol bottles, cigarette boxes and plastics.

When I crossed a big intersection where there used to be motorcycle taxies, there were just packs of dogs sleeping on the tarmac of the road. On the traffic police box was the poster with a picture of a scantly cladded sexy girl advertising for a foreign drink.

I passed by a seven-eleven and one more minimart convenient stores. On the other side of the road, inside a group of Padauk trees, music spilled out from an all-night karaoke restaurant. Though there was no sign of clients eating or singing inside.

Before I reached the four way intersection where I had to turn right, an on-line game shop was surprisingly doing business as almost usual. Only a bit fewer gamers than on an average day. I have no idea what time it opens and closes.

Bangkok's canal Since there were no cars coming (one of few amazing things in Bangkok that you can expect only at this time of the year !) I didn't need to care much whether it was red light or green light. On the way up to the bridge I was greeted by a group of young men still enjoying Songkran at these hours. There were buckets of water in them. I told them they could pour water on my body but (please) not my bag which was overflowing with documents and papers. Even though they looked quite heavily drunk, they were polite enough. They just washed my hands as if they found them too dirty for me to carry home.

Then it came the famous odd smell of the canal below the bridge. Bangkok is criss-crossed by many cannals. I don't know the water quality in the old days. A few years back a famous singer drove (or was driven) into one such body of waters and was since in coma. After the incident many newspapers and magazines were filled with news of his fans crying, praying and so on for months. But I did not see any article talking about importance of managing clean water.

The lights from the wet or fresh market emerged behind the bridge. Every day in the early hours merchants transport all kinds of fresh produce such as fruits, vegetable and meat to this market. Pick up trucks and taxi cars could be seen parking along the road. People carting the stuff crossing the road from this side to the other side are seen without shirts. But now there were just few of them.

After walking over a kilometer I arrived at a major bus stop infront of a large department store, where I intended to stop and wait for a bus to take me home. A homeless man was snoozing on a bench. A group of Songkran revellers also were waiting for bus. Large advertising posters of all shapes and colors marketing services and products were draping the tall wall of the department store.

A smart looking small white dog slowly walked toward the center line of the road. There it looked to the right, and to the left as if to inspect if cars driven by drunk human creature were coming. Then it started to release solid waste from its tummy.

About 20 minutes passed and a bus arrived. In the bus there were more revellers with white powder marks on their cheeks and hands. Some of them looked drunk. Few of them were talking loudly about how they threw icy water on the girls and how these girls reacted. An old blind begger was sitting quietly in a chair, his hands clutching an old violin and a small cloth bag. The bus dropped me at my stop.

As I walked the quiet platform infront of a hospital, fat rats were runing between their underground home and a garbage collection. They were busy searching for food and taking them home. My apartment is just opposite the hospital. A bowl of instant noodle soup was my early morning meal of that day. Oh, did I tell you one of my habits that I forget one thing a day and I never fail to remember when it is too late? Well when I entered the bath room I remembered that I forgot to buy a piece of "sabu" (soap).


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