Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Siam Center and MBK Mall shopping

I was told to look at the MBK mall if I wanted anything electronic or whatever and I wanted to see what it was like. I thought I might buy a memory card for my camera if the price was good but I don't really need one to tell the truth at this point.
So I took the sky train, which is incredibly modern and efficient. I'd say it was quiet too, which is more than I can say for most metro trains. Two stops later and I was at shopping central. The contrasts here were driven home again though with the sleeping man under the stairs and the child beggar asleep on the stairs with his cup. I guess if I lived here I'd have to get used to it. It appears that millions of people have.
Once inside it was a relief from the muggy heat of mid day. It must have been in the eighties with humidity around 75%, but I'm just guessing. There is quite a lot of air conditioning here and I wondered what the power source was as they use it liberally. Inside it almost seems like malls within malls and malls linked to other shopping centers by passageways over streets and it seems to really become one amazingly dense concentration of everyday commerce. All the ladies underwear, Pashmina scarves, luggage, fast food, electronics and so on with another area reserved for the Imax and other movie theaters. I'd guess Singapore might be on a par with this but this clearly is some miles ahead of even the most modern department store I saw in Beijing.
After looking over the electronics and wondering how so many people selling so much of the same thing in such proximity can survive I decided the prices weren't compelling and I was unwilling to risk the purchase of a product more sophisticated than I can readily understand and not be confident I will have no problems when I am thousands of miles away and have no recourse.
Roaming around in the malls also were visible numbers of western tourist fair skinned and blond in many cases. It looked like a high school had gotten out in some San Diego suburb as there were so many young looking white girls and a lot of maybe college aged couples as well as the odd middle aged person looking lost. Hey, not me. The point in getting lost is to figure out how to find your way back so you begin to learn your way around. That's my theory. Of course if you get frazzeled or anxious you can hop in a cab or on a tuk-tuk and sit in traffic for a while, might be quite a while too.
I decided to look for neckties and underwear. At least I found three decent neckties for around six and a half each. They definitely will bargain as she wanted 490 baht each for the ties and I offered her 900 for three, she laughed at me and said some things in Thai I didn't understand and accepted my offer. Perhaps she didn't expect a westerner to bagain that way, I don't know.
Finally it was time to head back as I wanted enough time before the tailor delivered his goods to me.
Then I got lost trying to leave and began to feel like I was in a video game of strategy where because I am overlooking one critical detail I keep repeating the same sequence over and over. It was maddening. Finally I went outside to get my bearings and sort of did and decided to go back inside and go up a level so I could go across and so on and it didn't work either, I ended up on some upper floor walking past the same Bangkok versions of KFC, Sizzler, Pizza Hut, Swensons and innumberable Japanese chains. Finally some how I saw the detail hidden in the mass of confusing textures and images and signs and mannaged to find my way back to the sky train so I could confidently wait on the platform to take the train going in the wrong direction a few stops. It all worked out and I got back in time to have one of the beers I bought last night and got cold in the room fridge.
Tonight I imagine will be an orgy of photography and street food. Maybe I'll get propositioned again, most likely I will. It's kind of flattering, even if it is all about dollar signs. At least it's honest and it never happens at home.

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