19 March 2017
My Old (Thai) Neighborhood
After half a year visiting the States, I found a lot of changes when I returned home on the rim of greater Bangkok. In my old neighborhood there is new construction going on everywhere, new elevated rail lines, new highway overpasses, and new buildings going up. The road intersections are much improved, with traffic circles and newly constructed lanes, all of which makes it much safer to walk and cross roads.
The heat and the dust are the same. Dust everywhere. And my friends are still here. My old neighborhood acquaintances are still good to see as I do my regular walks.
Going down the sidewalk toward the river, a cook greets me with a bit of English (I’m not sure what his background is, but he may not be fully Thai and he has impressive knowledge of the wider world; but I can rarely talk much with him because he is always extremely busy cooking up stuff).
Further along that sidewalk, a Chinese woman and her son sell snacks and cold drinks in front of their apartment, and they always greet me with a smile. All the way down the road to the hospital is the guy who copies keys, and who I talk to at length if he is not too busy; he spent time in the USA many years ago and speaks excellent English.
Closer to home, on the corner where our soi meets the bigger roads, are many folks that I see almost every day. The Popcorn Guy is by the Police Box and pops fresh popcorn. He speaks no English, but we communicate through my pathetically sparse Thai: I can say “Thank you”, and on hot days like today I will point to the sun and say Thai for “hot!”, and he nods and then we shake our heads and laugh. We go back quite a few years now.
There is a couple who sell cold drinks from a cart on the corner on weekends or holidays, with umbrellas for protection from sun or rain. They both speak excellent English. The guy told me that he once worked for an American who consulted/worked for the big electric utility that is at the other end of our soi, and that is how he learned English.
I’m a hermit, but I do have good neighbors that are a delight to see.