pool table

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Nettie and I are in Bangkok, Thailand in our hotel bar early Friday night playing pool and eating hard-shell chicken tacos with super spicy salsa, drinking mango margaritas and listening to Elvis Presley belt out “Heartbreak Hotel” on the damn good ceiling speakers.

Elvis is big in Bangkok (who knew?), and it’s a blast, man, to be in a world that knows no borders and has no timeline. Where things are mixed up. This could be Memphis or Los Angeles or Timbuktu, we could be fifteen or twenty or thirty…at least in our minds.

better busy

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We’re actually in our early-sixties…but who’s counting? I’m not counting and Nettie’s not counting and today on our walk through the largest and busiest Chinatown in SE Asia at the heart of Bangkok, nobody seems to be doing any kind of counting at all.

busy market

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They’re all too busy shopping and eating, and most of all living…living and living and living some more.

tutut

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The hustle and bustle of this city of 12 million people is the first thing that comes at you, fast and noisy, slow and sleepy and soft, colorful and drab. All mixed up again. There’s activity in every inch of the streets, in every corner of every store, stall, and tut-tut taxi.

The Thai’s are moving and standing in place at the same time. It’s an irony of time and motion, of perception and reality, of you and them, and of merging the two into one. You need only visit the Golden Buddha to understand what I’m talking about.

golden building

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It’s a fortress of sorts, or looks like one from the outside. Great big stone blocks of architecture…imposing edifices and steps that lead you to the gentlest Lord of them all, Lord Buddha.

golden

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Five tons of solid gold! 5.2 tons of him!! The largest golden statue in all the world. In honor of the one and only Buddha.

This is the same Buddha who left the palace of his father to renounce all earthly possessions, the blessed Buddha who sought the source of pain and suffering and found it in attachments, the great Buddha who then divested himself of all attachments, finally even the attachment of food and water and nearly starved to death beneath the Bodhi tree…but instead found enlightenment.

This same Buddha is honored here in Bangkok with a golden edifice unmatched in ostentation. Ironic, certainly. Iconic, certainly. And pure Thai at the same time.

slow canal

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We then travel the ancient canals in narrow canoes propelled by a solitary and silent man who himself could be two hundred-years old or forty, but we’re still not counting. The birds, the strange birds in this strange land, whistle as we pass.

overview river

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We pull up to a floating market where women make delicious Pad Thai noodles and sizzling pork in firey pots in the center their boat. We drink Singha Hah beer and Tiger Beer. How many? Who’s counting. Not us.

river cruise

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Then we put on fancy clothes for an evening cruise down the Chao Phraya River (The King’s River) that runs through Bangkok and brings all things to life. The boat is the Grand Pearl. It’s spectacular with glistening windows, gold railing and marble at our feet. We sit at deck-side tables, the city sparkling on shore.

Then we hear it begin…music and singing on the upper deck.

“Can it be?” I look at Nettie, “Can it really be him?”

“Maybe this is where he came,” she says, “maybe he never actually died.”

distant elvis

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We hurry up the stairs to the top deck. We hear the notes of one of my favorite songs by the King and the opening lyrics…Please don’t ask me what’s on my mind, I’m a little mixed up and but I’m feelin’ fine…”

elvis close up

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We reach the top step, the blue and red lights illuminate the stage, and there he is, Elvis Presley right here before us, right here in Thailand. How strange indeed, how remarkable to think we would come halfway around the world to find the King of Rock ‘n Roll on the King’s River aboard the Grand Pearl.

What are the odds of that? I mean, really. They must be astronomical…they must be in the millions, maybe even the billions. But it doesn’t matter what they are because we’re not counting and neither is Elvis. He’s just singing his heart out beneath the Asian sky where the world is crazy and spinning…where Elvis is in love and he’s All Shook Up!

To see a selection of photos of this week in Bangkok, click here:

Bangkok Photos

 

 

 

 

5 Responses to The King In Bangkok

  1. Norma and family says:

    Frank and Annette we are on the trip
    With you through every touching wonderful
    description.
    We love you both
    N&C

  2. Beverly Pine says:

    We are leaving for Vietnam tomorrow and will be inThailand in 2weeks. Your blog reminded me of our trip to Egypt where our guide took us to “our Memphis to visit our king” (Ramses). Elvis is in the house! Have fun.

    Beverly

  3. Gary Maxwell says:

    Great Blog. Love the pictures. Stay safe. We love and miss you. I got another film gig. You’ll be back before I shoot it.

    • Frank Z says:

      Thanks. I dig that you dug the post. But I really dig the “another film” gig. Hey…can I be your driver just to get on set and watch you? I’m serious about this question. In Hanoi tonight, I won’t even get started with all the shit that the name brings up for me and Nettie. I will just say this is a lovely city, beautiful in fact, with nice people who never called me a Pole. Plus we had one hell of a dinner an hour ago…maybe the best sautee’d spring rolls and braised eggplant we’ve ever had. There is life here in spite of the U.S.

      fz

  4. Stephanie says:

    Namaste!

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