Nobody really has any idea how many people live in Bangkok, owing to the undoubtedly massive population of illegal immigrants and slum-dwellers, but the city itself is twenty-five times bigger than DC. You could fit New York, LA, Houston and two Baltimores inside Bangkok and still have room for another state capital or two.
The whole thing is an unbelievable mess. Bangkok’s thoroughfares are such an insane traffic disaster that they’ve built elevated highways that sit above street level on giant concrete pillars. They’re the jungle canopy to the city’s sticky heat, constant noise and cavalcade of bizarre smells, and if you listen to the cars on top you’ll remember what a tiny, tiny part of this enormous metropolitan tumor you are.
No matter how many times I come to this city I will always be completely overwhelmed by it. Every one of the six times I’ve been here I was either scared out of my mind or trying desperately to get out, so I’ve never really explored it in any serious capacity. I resolved to conquer Bangkok this time – to see everything, to make sense of it, to somehow understand the patterns behind its maddening bustle and pollution.
I couldn’t do it. Three days and I was ready to bolt. Bangkok, we’ll meet again.