Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bangkok Chronicles Five: Impressions

Thursday, March 19, 2009

In Plato’s famed Allegory of the Cave, prisoners live in a cave with their legs and necks in bonds such that they can only see the shadows of things on the wall, not the things as they actually are. Socrates asks Glaucon, “Do you suppose such men would have seen anything of themselves and one another other than the shadows cast by the fire on the side of the cave facing them?” Then one prisoner was dragged out of the cave to see things as they really are – for the first time.

I am like him.

For the first time, I went out of my cave, my sheltered world, to try to discover what life is like beyond it. For the first time, I visited a foreign country. I saw things as they actually are - not described through the limiting and limited vocabulary of an author and not filtered through the distorting lens of a photographer’s camera. Preferring quiet walks to the more obvious must-see destinations, we didn’t see much of the city of Bangkok but what we saw opened my eyes to a lot of things.

My first thought as I stepped out of the plane was, this feels like Manila! In so many ways, Bangkok looks a lot like Manila, too. But as our stay lengthened, the differences become more glaring. And seeing the stark disparities first-hand is way more astonishing than merely reading about it. Litter-free streets, the ease of not having to have your bags checked everywhere you go, the absence of pushing and jostling to get inside the next train, inhaling air free of diesel stink – such small matters made me realize how, unlike the Philippines, a country like Thailand has made things work.

It is easier to understand what is truly captivating and unique about Bangkok by focusing on how everything there, though outwardly of divergent natures, blends seamlessly with each other – the fusion of various flavors in its culinary offerings; its towering temples, skyscrapers, five-star hotels and shopping centers dotting the skyline in a non-competitive way; the red light district of Patpong in harmony with the verdant sprawl of Lumphini Park; the river boat and the skytrain packed with both monks, locals and tourists in tranquil coexistence.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

did you enjoy the actual "google satellite map view" of metro manila and metro bangkok? :)

Angeli said...

hah! i did of course. i enjoyed it so much that my seatmate's arm got black and blue. :)

Amelia said...

yes Angeli. It's just sad to admit that it's really different now in Manila compared with the neighbouring Asian country. It was just sad...

Angeli said...

but it's not yet too late, amelia. the philippines can still catch up with its neighbors. what do you think?

:)

Amelia said...

if only the government has this "political will" then why not....the problem with our country is there's too much politics and come on there are a lot of things that needs to be done...

I just felt sorry for this because Manila is not like that..I live and grow in Manila for 27years and I see the beauty before and comparing it to now...there is so much difference...just a simple illustration, our classroom before never uses aircon except for the auditoriums but now all classrooms do have aircon it's because it's super hot and pollution is everywhere...try to visit Taft Avenue, Manila, it's not like that before....

Amelia said...

but having said that, I totally miss Manila...like one of the foreigner we encounter in Coron, Palawan..."there's something in Manila that will make you come back" and I said, the "life and energy"...

and there's really no place like home...;)

Artemis said...

I agree with your impressions... many people say that all our neighboring countries are moving very rapidly,, but there is still hope of course, we just don't know how long it will take.

I like the way you describe the harmony of the opposite scenes.:-) Whenever I see these saffron clothed monks among the rushing lay people, I somehow feel a sense of peace. Compared to Manila, Bangkok has much more culture and colors to offer for the tourist. And when it comes to economic development, it surely has a more modern look.

Angeli said...

very well said artemis. i felt that sense of peace, too.

thank you.

:)

Angeli said...

and i could see myself living there, too! if only i could understand what the street signs mean.... :)

jacqueline said...

well, our country still has hope... everybody is expected to do their part (our part).

everybody needs to be re-educated on how to keep our environment clean, at least, we can start with that one. :)

a lot of things have changed that even the way people think have already changed... too few seem to care now. :(

and having a concrete point of comparison to what our place has become we can't help but feel sad... truth hurts because reality bites... :(

witsandnuts said...

Just the same here, although I love Philippines at times I feel safer here than when I am in Metro Manila. But I'm not losing hope. One day ours will be better.

 
muffled solitude © 2007-2017. Design by Pocket | Distributed by Blogger Blog Templates