Sunday, March 26, 2006

markets and expats

It's Monday morning here. I just got out of the shower. I was told how to turn on the hot water, but honestly have not had a need for it. Cold is just fine. Just fiiine.

Yesterday Colleen and i got up fairly early and headed to Chatuchuk market. You know when you hear about shopping in Bangkok? And how great it is? Really? People aren't expressing it strongly enough. Let me put it this way:

Chatuchuk market wore me out. I was the one who said 'I've had enough, let's go now". Those of you who have ever shopped with me will be gasping right now. This could very well be a sign of the coming apocalypse. Or I have finally gotten old. Really old. Seriously.

That market is HUGE. I mean, I've been to the souks on Marakech, and the markets in Egypt, and I've been to some damned big malls in the US and I've shopped on Bond, Regent AND New Bond Streets in London, and this market is the king of them all. If you can't buy it there, forget it, it does not exist.

And, for you people who like beads and jewelry ws nirvana. I was stunned, overwhelmed and confused. I was almost mad at myself, in a way, because there it all was, everything i could ever want or need in the bead and silver way and I kind of just froze. I had once asked Colleen to "pick me up some beads" and now I see why she just laughed when I asked her that. The selections of stones and pearls and silver and findings and what all, amazing. Too much. The stall holders used bags of pearls as chairs and foot rests. And the prices? Well, let's just say my luggage is no longer in the light category. I didn't buy as much as I thought I would (overwhelmed, 'member?) but then I do have three and a half more weeks......

AFter about 4 hours of the market (where i got a bit scarily overheated and crabby, I forget I get crabby when I am hungry) we left to go to Jim Thompson's house museum. Jim Thompson was an American expat who is credited with turnign around the Thai silk trade and bringing it to the attention of America, thus reviving a dying art. He died in mysterious circumstances in 1967. His house? Amazing.

But the thing about his house is, it reminds me of how my grandparents' house was. See, my grandparents (on my dad's side) traveled throughout Asia and the Middle East extensively in the late 50's early 60's. This was back when Thailand was still Siam and Iran was Persia. They saw Angkor Wat before Pol Pot did his worst to Cambodia. Their house, on the Guf Coast of Mississippi, was a veritable museum and style show of Asian and Middle Eastern Art.

I don't think I realized, until now, how much Thai art and style have infulence my whole view of everything, through my grandparents. I am fairly certain my grandparents met Jim Thompson. He was known for (according to the books) meeting up with every expat of some status who came to Bangkok at that time.

Anyhow, it's been a bit bittersweet as I walked around that museum, as everything I saw reminded me of my grandparents, and their incredible, beautiful style that melded Asian and American influences. I grew up with Buddhas and elephants and dragons and temple rubbings when other kids had naugahyde chairs, brown shag carpet and lava lamps. I feel very comfortable here, in a way, because I grew up with the visual language.

It's killing me because now I REALLY want to talk about all this to them, and they are gone. Opi died in 1987, Omi died a few months after I got to Norway. I've been thinking about them alot. I brought along a brooch that had been hers, that she got here on that trip. I like the idea of her buying it in Siam, bringing it to the US where it languished in her, my mom's and then my jewelry box, and then I bring it full circle back to its place of origin 47 years later.

I am also wondering how the hell they got all the stuff they bought home to the States. They must have filled a large shipping container. Me? I get a measly 20 kilo limit. Just the beads I bought alone might have put me over that. That's really starting to piss me off.

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