Big City, Little Problem

 

Deboarding the plane at the Bangkok airport, my body unfurled from its extended confinement.   I had arrived in one of those unsettling physical states produced only by air travel and time zone change: exhausted from sleep deprivation (note: over-the-counter sleeping pills do not in fact guarantee a good sleep) and restless from a 17 hour stretch of physical stagnation... Let's just say that I was seriously tempted to sprint down the terminal to customs and collapse into a long outstretched slumber.

 

After walking through customs (yes, I refrained from a full-out sprint), I entered the airport's bustling point of departure, crammed with backpackers and business people, vendors and vacationers, all pushing their way through the crowds in different directions, hobnobbing in a plethora of languages you don't often hear at good old T.F. Green airport. 

 

Immediately energized and overwhelmed, I found myself captivated by the liveliness of the surrounding travelers but rather confused about how to actually find the exit to the street. 

 

My airport experience --this strange blend of invigoration and bewilderment-- would be echoed again and again during my first few days in the city.

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In my defense, Bangkok is big.  It is home to almost 10 million people and sprawls out over 600 square miles. 

 

 

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A torrent of fluorescent pink floods the city's streets as brightly colored cabs, motorbikes and tuk tuks (open air taxis) rush by.  Tightly packed street carts selling food, jewelry and textiles, adorn the city's sidewalks, constructing a visually stimulating labyrinth of patterns and colors that produce a concoction of smells that stick to the hot, heavy air. 

 

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Engulfed by the city scene and humidity, I have weaved my way through a few of the city's neighborhoods, attempting to absorb everything, but often finding that it is only possible to take in so much.    

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Ok--  But, I'm not here just to wander around the city--  

 

My initial plan of action was to get to Bangkok a week before I left for Phichit so that I could meet with PATH, the organization with which I had been in contact.  PATH has produced a more comprehensive curriculum that aims to resonate with young people.  It was PATH's project, “Teenpath” after which I hoped to model my own teen health curriculum. 

 

However, this plan had to be revised upon discovering, after two days of unanswered calls, that the entire PATH office had gone out of town to attend a week-long workshop. 

 

Slight misunderstanding? Yes. Slight problem? Well… yes and no.

 

Though PATH does fill the niche of developing teen sex ed curricula, lucky for me, Bangkok is packed with NGOs and universities. 

 

Good thing I bought a cellphone--- Looks like I'll be making many a call.