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We’ve been away from home for 52 days.
Every time homesickness strikes, we find the nearest restaurant with burgers, induce a food coma, and take a nap. We wake up with fresh eyes and the energy to explore again. The cure isn’t that revolutionary. Most of the time, we only miss home because we’re tired and miss the familiar: friends and family.
Seven days is too long for the intensity of Bangkok but it aligned with the cold that took us down a few days. Tariq also earned his immunity badge last week; he was bedridden for 36 hours with the trifecta of food poisoning symptoms (think Pepto Bismol jingle). Now that he’s on the other side, a world of street food stalls has opened up to us. I don’t even wipe our utensils anymore and I definitely don’t look too hard into the kitchen to gauge hygiene.
Thailand is currently in a state of mourning, their late King, Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away in October. Most people will wear black or neutral tones this entire year or a black ribbon to show their respect. You can find life size, gold framed portraits of Adulyadej set up outside skyscrapers, malls, and restaurants. He was truly admired, an uncommon narrative in most history books. None seem too excited about his wild son becoming his successor though.
Despite this year of mourning, tourism is still encouraged. Unemployment is low because everyone has a hustle here: tuk tuks, hand made souvenirs, shoe shine, etc. There are low barriers for entry; if you want to sell bracelets, you can start that day. Bangkok is innovative, chaotic, commercialized, spirited, and tiring. The malls are lavish, the night markets are aggressive, and the party street's sell everything from fried scorpions to warm bodies.
We met up with my oldest family friend a few times who’s studying abroad for his MBA. At dinner, I noticed seven too many tables with white men and young thai women. My friend, Farzad, responds: “Wondering why there are so many escorts here is like asking, why are people drunk in Vegas?” That’s fair. Bangkok can be considered progressive. The culture is both open and closed minded, but overall, evolved when it comes to women's rights. Not every woman here needs saving. Though human trafficking is still a global issue, plenty women here choose their hustle - there’s not much to frown upon.
An unsurprising/surprising take away came from the Ladyboys. Once I got past their beauty, the Ladyboys reminded me how much progress is left to be made in feminism. If all sexes had political, economic, and social equality, women/transgender/Ladyboys wouldn’t be the first label you place on a person. If I could re-do any of my time in Bangkok, I would sit down with some coffee with one of them. I don’t know enough about Ladyboys but I admire their strength. They won’t take any crap from you and demand respect. Despite prejudice, they are loud and proud. The world knows they’re here. They defy traditional beauty standards, gender roles, or any form of constraint.
Happy #InternationalWomensDay and keep up your #Hustle