It's appropriate to end this stay like this. I've been in an expat frame of mind here for the most part, whereas in other times I could fool myself into thinking that I was living a Thai life. Like many snobs, I have felt that to have an authentic experience here, I had to be uncomfortable.
In some ways, I defend that position to the death. The worst Thai food I've had here has been eaten under airconditioning, although I've also found some truly abysmal food stalls. And buses, whether taken in the city or to a national border, are self-enclosed communities; the Skytrain and subway are not. Outdoor markets are the place to buy fruit and fish and flowers--not supermarkets.
But although my recent experience here may not have been as I wished it to be, it has indeed been Thai. This multi-layered society has room for many ways of living, and mine hasn't even come close to Bangkok luxury. Or even middle-class living. As always, I've gone for the bizarre, Bohemian, bookish life that I lead anyplace that I sleep in for more than three nights.
There is so much I haven't seen in Thailand--and quite a bit that I haven't seen in Bangkok. The other night a friend took me to a chic little bar called WTF, where you can have a cocktail that wouldn't disgrace any stateside bistro and Elliott Smith was played in the background. I had a Beer Lao Dark and tried not to feel too out of place. I've never been to Soul Food Mahanakan, the spot du jour run by an American chef that's rumored to have the best gaeng hang ley in the city, or Nahm, David Thompson's controversial foray into Bangkok's hip scene.
And I don't care. What bothers me is that I haven't yet had the salt-encrusted grilled fish on my soi and I've only been to Elvis Suki and the ice-cream place in a shophouse livingroom three times and I definitely have not eaten enough shwarma. And if you gather from that sentence that Bangkok is food for me, you would be absolutely correct.
When I come back, I'll go to Thailand with just enough time in Bangkok to see friends. There's still so much to see and to do and to taste--and like any good gourmand, I've left room for more.