Double Vision, One Reflection

Thailand felt easy. Efficient public transportation, fast food chain restaurants, comfortable accommodation and several tourists – the perfect combination for pleasant holidays. Conversely, besides the weekend in Koh Tao, the definition of holidays (and such relaxed implications) did not quite reflect the schedule of the past two weeks. Although not filming or documenting, I was still caught up with work. Thailand being Thailand, also offered all the commodities needed to be productive; and so, it felt easy.

Even the daily schedule was adapted to my personal desires. I am not a morning person and during periods when I am solely dependent on my own productiveness, the morning struggle repeats day after day. I tend to feel guilty for waking up anytime between 9 and 10am. But then again, the most productive hours of each day usually transpire from 10pm until late. Morning after morning, it just came naturally to linger around bed longer than most of Bangkok.

Bangkok is a city constructed by businesses and made for business. Part of the recent Asian economical boom, the economy has drastically changed the face of an otherwise developing country. The immediate effects are perceived through subtitles: neat dress code (from business attire to fashionable youth), cleanliness and organization, and the epitome of development: shiny reflective tall buildings. Nothing reflects better capitalism than those mirrored windows: only some are permitted inside the dual vision club, while the others content themselves with a reflection of the truth.

Politically talking, the protestors did bring some of those buildings down. Burnt entirely to their fragile and naked structure, black and grey symbolized the end of more colorful existence. Despite the condoling lack of reflection, Thai people surely know the exact way to treat any being like an individual; and not just another visitor amidst countless others. Lovable, relatable and affable, any “positivable” combination emulates the actions of the population.

One exception to this gentle rule involves taxi drivers. I bet under different circumstances they would also be genuinely kind people, but some drivers might disagree with the notion of a (paid) ride due to the following reasons: a) the final destination is too far away, b) the final destination isn’t far enough or c) the trajectory to the final destination involves too much traffic. After a few instances, it just became comical to enter the vehicle, detail the final destination and get immediately kicked out.

I am not aware of the reasoning behind such behavior but I am positive it is related (here we go again) to the search of greater profit. In fact, overtly consumerism manners can be evidenced around Bangkok. Imposing shopping malls, chaotic street markets, and numerous street vendors display the latest in fashion, technology and commodities. Things are relatively cheap; but then again, the average income is directly related to numbers displayed on price tags. Hence, the sight of consumers carrying bags and bags of recently bought goods becomes an assertion of Thai behavior.

Such practice certainly translates into visitors’ schedules. Victim of the surroundings, I bought one T-shirt and (needed) film equipment. I even considered getting a typical tattoo and falling under the stereotypical behavior. Studio after studio, my concept didn’t come to life, and so I refrained from permanent inking.

Just because I didn’t get any physical mark, Thailand will still remain in my memories. Out of all the places I have visited thus far, Bangkok certainly tops the list of places I could settle down for a certain period of time. Although some changes could be done to accommodate my personal desires (as in less tourists), I still prefer to be the one creating my own reflection than manipulate the changes from within my two sided window.