Where’s @t at?
Our attempt to walk from Khaosan Road road westwards to the floating markets got interrupted as we followed my urge to walk down a random one way street off a busy main road. There was nothing really special looking about the road and crossing a four lane road isn’t the best idea but we did it anyway. Thick black telephone wires obscured the view of bright pink and blue painted apartments, like everywhere else also here two or three street vendors set up shop and some neighbours congregated outside their homes to chat and eat.
T-shirts hanging in the window of a ground floor apartment caught my eye and though the sparseness of the space made me a bit unsure if it actually was a shop the open door made me feel it was all right to go in. Sure enough a Thai guy walked down the stairs as soon as we got in and showed us his t-shirts, which it turns out, he designs and prints himself with some friends as a collective called Hangover. Randolph chose a cityscape t-shirt with a big tree sprucing out of surrounding skyscrapers. The guy didn’t have the right amount of change to give us back so he headed off for a minute and came back with the right change and a bottle of Coke and Fanta for Randolph and I. The three of us sat outside on little wooden benches and @t, as he likes to be written, started talking about his collective.
Soon his friend popped on over and @t asked if we wanted to try some Thai deserts. Not even waiting for an answer his friend sped off on @t’s brakeless bike and came back just a couple of minutes later with food I had never seen before. Green short noodle-like things in coconut milk cooled by a huge chunk of crush iced, a cream coloured mushy, sweet and grainy soil grown vegetable in salty coconut milk and purple jelly squares floating in sugar water. The textures and tastes were almost overwhelming. The green noodles were glibbery, wet and slimy, the sweet vegetable in salty coconut milk made a crass contrast and jelly, though not that unheard of, was extra slippery in its pool of sugary water.
After we established that @t and I are both avid magazine readers he gave me a stack of Thai magazines to flip through while we picked at the deserts and drank the coffee. The sincere hospitality was mind blowing especially for Randolph, who in his week long Bangkok adventure had only encountered TukTuk drivers and Thais who seem helpful enough giving directions but then end up just being after your money.
A random stroll down a one way street changed our whole day plans. We stayed at @t’s home all day. He took us to a pawn shop after I told him I was interested in getting a camera. He took us to a magazine and packaging printing factory just a couple of houses down from his. He bought us dinner from yet another street vendor which we ate with his two friends. A spicy red pork curry, fried boiled eggs, a pork ball soup, a seafood soup, rice, fried pork, chicken and fish.
The sincere friendliness, view into his life and culture was numbing. And what made the situation even more surreal is that @t felt just as fortunate to have met us. As I told him I’d write about his designs for Flamingo Magazine and we promised to help him with his t-shirts once he expands the business he repeatedly described our visit to his shop as god sent. Bless him!