I haven’t written anything in a few days, mostly because I’ve been trying to verbalize my thoughts for myself. I’ve done a good deal of sightseeing, been here almost a week, and I feel – well, odd. There are so many Westerners here that if it weren’t for the heat and the street vendors I could be almost anywhere. Add to that the absolutely constant movement, and it’s like being in New York or London or the city of your choice, in the touristy part of town, permanently.
This omnipresent tourism has an interesting, and somewhat disturbing, impact on my experience. I walk through my days in a haze, somehow subconsciously aware that the pace here dictates I keep moving, look at the temple for a minute, then keep walking. Don’t stop, sit down, even stand in one place for too long or you’ll be accosted by touts. The traffic, the milling throngs, everything points me toward speed, efficiency. The sheer number of tourists almost mandates an us-or-them mentality – it’s not that people are unfriendly, it’s just that there are too many of us to really pay attention to. What have you seen today? Have time for more? Move on to the next Wat – it’s right next door, 100 more golden buddhas and 1000 more tourists and lots of Thai people who don’t expect you to be pleasant or respectful and therefore deal with you brusquely, if at all. I guess that experience by the tracks was even more unusual than I thought.
I don’t know what it is, really, that’s bothering me most. I don’t seem to be able to relax, find a place to be quiet and think. There’s too much noise, too much traffic, too many people and yet nobody to talk to. Everyone seems to fall into 2 categories: tourists travelling in packs, in search of the next cheap Chang, or solo travellers stopping through as briefly as possible on the way to somewhere else. Maybe I should take a hint from the latter and move on sooner rather than later. I’m beginning to feel lonely, and in a city this big, with this many people in it, that’s just not right.