10 May, 13:00:
I am somewhere on the outskirts of downtown Bangkok. I took the sky train to the end of the line, Wongwian Yai, with the intention of walking to Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn. Instead of asking directions, I decided to explore: wandering along thoroughfares, turning into sidestreets including one pedestrian market area along an abandoned railway line. From the railway market I entered a neighborhood of narrow alleyways where homes have roofs of corrugated steel, streets twist and turn and end, but friendly people point the way out.
I haven't seen another foreigner for more than two hours and I am thoroughly enjoying the adventure. I particularly love walking along a rather ordinary Thai street, only to stumble upon a spectacular temple with large white columns, high peaked roofs in red and green, golden snakes curling skyward. This happened not once, but half a dozen times in the course of an hour.
This is the way to discover a city: on foot with no timetable and no particular destination. I am not normally a loner, but this solitary walk in a new (to me) city, country, culture, reminds me of similar excursions discovering Rome, Jerusalem, Hebron, Amsterdam, Quebec. Travel and discovery truly is life-giving, invigorating.
10 May, 14:00, Talat Phu
After two and a half hours of aimless meandering (in the mid-day heat no less), I decide it's time to ask directions to Wat Arun. A friendly woman engages a half-dozen members of her extended family to hail a cab and point me in the right direction. As the cab retraces much of the path I walked, I realize I headed as far as I could in the opposite direction - and loved every minute of my journey.
11 May, at the hotel:
A quick look at Google maps shows I wandered almost 10km away from the train yesterday - and more, I'm sure, given the roundabout route I took.
Vigor: healthy physical or mental energy or power, vitality.
I am invigorated.