For me, giant cities are the destination. Ambling for hours, usually in neighborhoods local denizens prefer to have never heard of, finding as many types of street food as possible, deliberately experiencing rush hour (that one’s tough to chew on), and exploring street-scapes for bizarre, anachronistic and/or long-forgotten architecture. Since my most common stomping grounds were in East Asia, it’s easiest for me to focus on the metropolises of Tokyo, Jakarta, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. And then there’s China, oblivious on its ceaseless path of creating the world’s ugliest skylines. Which I really, really like. More on that in another entry.
Bangkok, ah I’m not planning to steam in on its infamy (if you’ve been to that part of the world, Bangkok is just drop in the bucket, a very conspicuous bucket mind you), and there’s only three things I dig. 1) Sukhumvit Soi Arab, a small bustling enclave of Arabs, non sub-Saharan Africans and halal eateries, evasively serving up a melange of foul medames, pita, falafel, and pickles, surrounded by Thai hawking their mangosteens and freshly tapped water. 2) Mango sticky rice. Done deal. 3) Offbeat buildings. Let’s start with a true classic, the elephant building, or, since I don’t know any of the Thai language beyond hello, thanks, straight ahead and promfat (fake Thai for pomfret), the chang building.
There’s a popular weekend market in Krung Thep called Chatuchak (or Jatujak, or if you search long enough a place to watch crickets fight), it’s at the Mo Chit BTS Skytrain station. That malarkey wasn’t on my menu for the day, as I briefly read about the elephant building beforehand. I’ll go on a certain detour just to walk around and peruse a structure, or to try a new cuisine (Kajang, the sate/satay capital of Malaysia, for instance), or to check out a subway or monorail (Daejeon, that’s all you’re worth). The chang is on a tourist tangent, yes, but it’s still very much in Bangkok. You breathe the same soot and exhaust, meddle with the same easily-bent forks and hear the same, same…same. At least there are plenty of buses and taxis nearby its presence at Thanon (street) Phaholyothin and Thanon Ratchadaphisek, plenty that I didn’t avail myself to, because the walk from Chatuchak suited me just fine.
It was finished in 1997, and is mixed-use with residences, offices and since last year, a Best Western, though it seemed many offices went kaput.
I went in to have a look. At first, I ended up on a floor with Best Western hotel rooms, greeting the housekeeper with a sawasdee KRUP, and briskly snooping the low-lit hallway for windows to snap a picture from within, which reminds me, yellow tusks? Afterwards, I skedaddled to the hotel reception area, where I was greeted with “there were no rooms available.” Tidings to your day as well!
Considering the significance of an elephant in Thailand, this one I can understand a bit more than say, The Big Duck. (Thanks to RoadsideAmerica.com) Nonetheless, it’s a worthy addition to my fledgling “Noah’s Ark series” of buildings, which isn’t to be confused with the “Noah’s Ark series” of buildings, part 2.