Thursday, January 05, 2006

Say it with cake

We are back in Bangkok which is a bit of a shock after the slow, slow pace of island life. On the island it would be a big day if I managed the walk to Handsome Sandwiches (more on that one from Ed) and usually after all that exertion I would need a nap.

But here in the city that never sleeps, this kind of behaviour is not an option. Instead Ed and I are doing as the locals do and have become cosumerist, mall crawling city folk. Bangkok seems to have an obsession with shopping malls - in Siam Square there are at least 10 gigantic shopping malls hunkered down on a traffic choked main road - they are all connected with walkways and each seems to be more space age than the next. Each one is stufed with shops, beauty salons, food courts, massage centres, hairdressers, cinemas. Rich Thai princesses in shorts and stilletos work out their credit cards in the designer clothes stores, sharp looking businessmen check out the Bentleys for sale on the fifth floor, giggling schoolgirls admire pastel coloured mobile phones and everyone seems to be stuffing themselves silly at the food stalls.

The cinemas are total pleasure palaces, for a few dollars extra you can go VIP and have a huge remote controlled seat, pillows, blankets and bar service - some of the cinemas even have been themed to suit the film. Yesterday when we saw Narnia Ed almost came to grief when he bashed into a spiky tree covered in fake snow.

The shops often have great "Thai-lish" names like "Mr Bread", "Sparkle Fun Girl" and my personal favourite "Say it with Cake". The great corporations of the world haven't missed out on the local action either - behold the terrifying Ronald McDonald doing the traditional Thai style greeting above, its been giving me nightmares for days...

Now amongst all this rampant consumerism in Bangkok there is still a traditional side, ancient Buddhist Temples are everywhere as are the orange robed Monks whose shaved heads, sandals and cotton bags hark back to a simpler time. Well of course this was what I thought until a spied a big gang of monks roaming the mall testing out laptop computers, admiring mobile phones and checking out video cameras - seems like they dig on the consumer vibe too.


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