Floating Elephants

It’s 7:20pm on January 1st. I’m laying down on the makeshift pullout in Bangkok Thailand. I’m exhausted, as per usual.

We visited the floating markets today, which consisted of markets with boats that drove or paddled around on canals. There was basically a community of lifted homes or shops on the water, teeming with canals, and then there were long boats outfitted with old car engines and a long 15ft shaft with a propellor on the end. The shaft entered the water at a 30 deg angle, and the boat was about 30 ft long and covered. There were paddle boats as well. It cost about 800 baht to drive around for an hour. Most of the goods seemed a bit generic. Regardless, it was enjoyable to go on the water and look at the goods and see the people. It was mostly tourists, but it seemed the entire economy in many of these developing countries are sustained by tourism. Its difficult to determine how much culture is authentic and original, and how much is simply manufactured. The line is blurred, and maybe the manufactured goods is in fact a part of the culture, and therefore inseparable.

Aftter that we had lunch, then went to a Thai amusement park. We were greeted by a lady boy with bleached hair, thick makeup, and pink braces. All very normal.

We saw a monkey show, rode on elephants, and took a gold cart to another park where we visted a “long neck village”. It was mostly animal and human exploitation at its finest, and I have to confess, I feel guilty about visiting and looking and indulging.

The monkey’s were chained, and performed horribly. They were kept in steel cages and looked pretty worse for wear.

There were about 30 elephants that gave various rides. It was an entire community of people, and there were other amusements as well. The ride was about 30 minutes or so. We walked around a coconut grove, and were submersed in about 15 feet of water at one point.

The long neck village was pretty surreal. Girls eight and nine years old, to seventeen and even older like sixties were there. There was a seventeen year old who looked twelve who had a seven year old daughter. These people were called Paudang or Burmese, and were brought it from Burma. They lived high in the mountains and had metal rings around their necks. The story goes that these people were very beautiful, and they had rings around their neck to showcase their beauty. At five they had 19 rings put on their neck, and one added every five years until they had 29 in total. I believe that is what I was told. The more brass rings, the prettier, and more desirable.

They lived at this amusement park in a make shift village. Many of the girls weaved various garments which took them five days to make, or so they said. They were weaving in front of us, but many of these girls were very young and very illiterate. Eight years old. Twelve years old. All of them were very beautiful. Like, very very beautiful. The most beautiful concentration of Asian’s I’ve seen yet. Exquisite physiognomy, and very hushed and humble demeanor.

The whole day was very strange. I felt odd observing all these show cases. The asian culture is very strange indeed.

I can’t decide how I feel about these things ethically speaking.

We’re about to head to downtown bangkok and have dinner at a sky rise restaurant.

bangkok is huge. About 8 million people if I remember correctly, or more than the entirely state of New Jersey.

The city is enormously sprawling. It’s difficult to gauge how huge it is because there is a downtown center every half mile, with massive skyscrapers. You can drive thirty minutes and feel like you haven’t left the downtown area. I imagined it smaller, but i still haven’t grasped the full size of the city. I need a map with some explanations behind it.

Traveling really makes me want to read biography’s about the cities or history books. I want to nature the history of the people and their culture. I want to know about the politics and government. There’s sooooo much more I want to know and explore and understand.

Will write more later. Signing off.

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