Bangkok/What I Read on the plane/What I am reading

This isn’t a travel blog, but I am in Bangkok right now; it’s just after breakfast time. I had a big bowl of Jok with pork and eggs, and the aunties who run the stall apparently find my lumbering frame and desire to eat Thai food adorable. Bangkok is a unique place; things grow and decay almost at the same time. Buildings are stacked on buildings, tiny alleyways off alleyways offer endless rows of food and shopping. Motorcycles buzz around you while you eat noodles on the sidewalk, and there’s a crush of people everywhere; it’s like no other place I have been.

On the plane ride over here I read “Goldfinger”, the seventh Bond novel. They’re like potato chips; not really what you want a whole bag of, but once you’re in… This was the most “Bond as I remember from the 70s movies” Bond yet; the plot is silly, the action is crisp, the racism (this time against Koreans) is kind of a dull roar. Fleming also apparently hated people with red hair, for some reason, and the titular Goldfinger is described as a kind of basketball headed freak with red hair. As a redhead myself, I found it all very… strange. There’s an article about Fleming’s fascination with his villains physical characteristics; he almost always makes them strange or gross in some manner. (In general, Literary 007 is an interesting place to visit for Bond book-related things. Give it a go if you want more backstory/critical thought on Bond.)

I also finished “Goliath” by Tochi Oneybuchi which was an interesting sci-fi novel. Set in a near future wracked by war, climate change, etc. it looks at the lives of people who are either stuck on earth or return to it from “The Colonies”– off world places where the wealthy and middle classes have gone to escape the planet. It’s a novel I enjoyed, but really don’t feel all that qualified to write about; it very directly addresses race and class, and I am in a position where it’s better for me to listen to people’s perspectives on those issues than offer opinions on them. That having been said, it was worth reading, though it felt more like a series of vignettes than a whole work– there’s nothing wrong with that per se (in fact, if you read this blog, you’ll know that works like that are kind of what we do around here), but it’s something to be aware of. It stuck with me, in a good way.

I started “Sightseeing” by Rattuwut Lapcharoensap; it’s a collection of short stories that take place in modern Thailand. Thus far, the stories are enjoyable, and the collection hangs together well. I suspect I would get a little more out of them if I understood Thai culture more than I do, but that hasn’t stopped me from understanding what Lapcharoensap is putting down. You can insert your own cliches about how reading is a window into another world, etc. here.

I also began the “Otherland” series– something about travel inspires me to dive into multiple book series; mostly I suppose so that I don’t run out of book while sitting on a twelve hour plane ride. Thus far, it’s proven worth the time I put into it, but I’m not that far into it. A few more thoughts on it as I go along.

Irregular updates to follow as I move about Thailand and Cambodia; regular blogging to resume once I am back home and on a normal schedule. Right now, I’m relaxing for a few more minutes, then rejoining the fray. It’s a beautiful sunny day, and the haze and noise of Bangkok is waiting for me.

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