observation exercise. icu.
Sitting on a sidewalk in the late afternoon sun the weathered and unusually dirty feet of many foreigners and Thais' a like pass by in meandering step. My placement leaves me central to activity on a beautiful Sunday, as I am about 40 feet from Thae Pae Gate at the cross section of the night market. Arriving early, there is a steady stream of people winding in and out of the sidewalk vendor stalls; who are still working to lay out their commodities. The atmosphere is jovial and lighthearted as scantily dressed foreigners peruse and Thais laugh and make conversation. Interactions between the two groups are fairly limited, as it's relatively unpopulated, at least in comparison to what will pervade the scene in an hour or two. Yet, the occasional exchange of accented English and well-versed sa wat dee's resound. Setting up in front of me is a group of four men, adjusting themselves and instruments in a straight line directly in the center of the walking path. All of the men, disabled, are accustomed to their placement and soon begin to play in rhythm. This is one aspect of the market life that is different customary practices in the United States. As there are many more avenues open to the disabled population and are seen much less frequently in this capacity. I resume my focus as the dusk settles in on the influx of patrons to the now fully lined street just as the entire bustle ceases. Playing in the distance the king's song can be heard and it seems for these moments the entire world stands still. The westerners in the area all seem to have caught on to the daily practice except a few whose expressions of sheer confusion go unmasked. Just as quickly as the ebb and flow stopped it restarts and the noises of an entire city return to life. Seemingly moving slower than before as the density of shoppers is increasing by the second. By now all the vendors have completed their displays and the practice of bargaining is in full force. Noted by the presence of a calculator in almost every hand. These interactions are quite fruitful to overlook as many times the language barrier leaves the exchange to rapidly typed numbers and the inevitable swap of baht for goods. Two women adorned in traditional tribal costume and jewelry man a highly frequented table across from me; in general as one addresses customers the other scrutinizes and overlooks the interaction. When the stand is free they sit and exchange quiet conversation with one another, with laughter piercing the air on regular intervals. This general overtone of Thai culture is something I take with me as I stand to continue down the seemingly never ending lined pathway.