My first ever culture shock was at the age of 13. I remember clambering into a Tuk Tuk and whizzing through the streets of Bangkok being absolutely terrified. What I now come to recognise as functioning madness, was a confusing array of colours, smells and noise. Six people on the back of a motorcycle, fried scorpion and tarantula on sticks, wild dogs running through the streets. It seemed a world away from what I was used to. However, as time passed, more similarities became apparent. Families still sat together to enjoy food. Commuters still woke up at 5am to make their way to work. Children still sat by their mothers and played with their toys.
A friend of mine once described Bangkok as a strong current. “You have to allow yourself to be swept up in the chaos or you’ll be exhaust yourself trying to find routine.” Nevertheless, in this ‘Backpackers Paradise’ moments of clarity can be found everywhere you look. Pop up shrines with incense burning calmly. Temples where the light touches the roof. The sun shining down on the city turning it into gold.
10 years after my initial introduction to the city, not much had changed other than the more frequent use of technology. Street vendors still sold fresh orange juice, backpackers from around the globe still drank Chang beer and people continued living their lives. The city still functioned and felt more alive than ever.