Certainly, like any spot in the world, it has flaws. It also has been extraordinarily generous to me, and many people whom I love I would never know if Bangkok hadn't presented them to me.
When I returned two years ago and rented an apartment at RTS Condotel, I had no idea I would meet a family there who have become my friends. Mrs. Nupa, Mr. Prateep and their two sons have brightened my Bangkok life with their intelligence and warmth and radiant kindness. I'm lucky that we are still in touch on facebook, I hope they will come to visit me here in the year to come, and I desperately miss the conversations that I would often pop in to have with them and hope to continue to have throughout our lives.
My friend Usa and I have struck a sort of generation gap that had never come between us before. She is a vibrant, beautiful woman in her 30s and I am a 60-year-old who has slowed down a lot. But I love her dearly and know that in another few years, that energy gap will narrow and once again we'll spend hours chatting and eating and having a good time, whether it's here, there or someplace in the middle. And if we're lucky, her evil brother Eddy will be with us.
A friend of more recent vintage is the irrepressible Jessica C--I met her in person in Bangkok soon after she returned from a long meditative stay in Chiang Mai so I was ready to bask in her spiritual wisdom. "Let's go somewhere where we can have a bottle of wine with dinner," she suggested--which was a challenge for me because it was a Buddhist holiday and alcohol was off the menu in most restaurants. We ended up eating terrific food and drinking a very nice merlot in a hotel restaurant near Patpong--an evening that cemented our friendship, for me at least.
As for my relationship with Bangkok? I'm examining it from a distance in a trial separation--not for the first time since I first fell in love with it fifteen years ago. It's the place where I found my voice, where I learned to live in a way that made sense to me, it might be the place where I grew up. I love it still, always and forever.