"Do you know the way to the Anantara in Sathorn?"
It's the most common question to come out of my mouth since I've begun calling the hotel/apartment complex home. But it's hardly the only one (question, not hotel/apartment complex in Bangkok).
1. Where are all the movie posters? One of my favorite memories of living in New York City is entering the subway station on my way to work and spotting a new poster for a coming attraction when it was still in mint condition before inevitably being defaced by hoodlums with no respect for the fine art of cinema. I almost missed the subway once or twice because I was so engrossed in the one for The Hours, pondering the above-the-title billing: Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, which, in my mind at the time, was the reverse order of why people would want to see it. (This was pre-commercially resurgent/The Devil Wears Prada Streep, and Moore was still Oscar bait.)
2. Do people here sweat? Within minutes of venturing outside, the waterworks begin, and I'm practically drenched. I look around me, and everyone else is completely dry, seemingly unaffected by the high humidity levels. Is it nature or nurture? Were they born this way, with inactive sweat glands that save them from the ignominy of sweaty armpits, or have years spent under the blistering summer sun helped them adapt to the heat and beat it without even trying?
3. Will there ever be another day without rain? Shortly after my first arrival in Melbourne last year, my friend Marcus shared with me a famous Melburnian saying about the city's famously temperamental climate: "If you don't like the weather in Melbourne, wait a few minutes. It'll change." One can say the same thing about rainy monsoon season in Thailand. It's not unusual to wake up to the rhythm of gently falling rain and have clear blue skies by noon that give way to thunder, lightning and torrential downpours by sunset. At least the view of storm clouds rolling in from my 14th-floor balcony is one of the most spectacular things I've seen in the entire country.
5. Food and drinks are so cheap, but why are gym memberships so expensive? When I was calling around looking into joining a gym on a short-term monthly basis, I couldn't believe the prices they were quoting, with what I presumed must have been straight faces. My two-week trial membership at Fitness First set me back about $50 (each subsequent visit would be close to $20, unless I paid for a $100-plus-per-month membership -- I passed on both), which is comparable to what you'd have to pay in the developed Western world. But when you can get a $4 five-star meal on Silom Road at 4 in the morning, you have to wonder, why do they make it so expensive to work off the food the next day?
Maybe it's a conspiracy: Load them up with delicious food, then make them have to pay dearly to work it off. Are the street vendors taking a cut of the gyms' profits? It's out there for sure, but more far-fetched things -- like cockroaches as a popular late-night snack -- have turned out to be true. I wonder how much time you'd have to spend on the treadmill to work off a platter of that!