I’ve alluded to it before, but it’s worth repeating: Thai people are seriously in love with shopping. They say* that a new shopping mall opens every year in Bangkok, and I believe it. If anything, this estimate seems a little low. You could probably walk from one end of the city to another without ever leaving the air conditioned deliciousness of these temples of consumption. They offer an escape from the heat, retail therapy, and a way to be passionately patriotic – nothing screams allegiance like supporting the national economy.
I was wandering around the Asoke area yesterday, trying to figure out our Indian visas (more on that later). I needed wifi access to sort out the visa application forms (as if mere internet access could ever penetrate India’s ridiculous bureaucracy), and popped into Terminal 21, one of Bangkok’s favourite shopping centres, in hopes of finding it. They had internet. They also had a whole lotta weirdly wonderful consumer opportunities.
Terminal 21 is designed as a departure terminal, and every escalator leads to a new international destination.
Some of its coolness was lost on me as I was desperately searching for wifi and raging at Indian bureaucracy, but in hindsight, it is pretty epic. The main escalator takes you to Istanbul.
After a quick glance, I decided that Istanbul a) sold nothing that I could afford, and b) had nowhere to rest my weary soul/laptop, so I jetted off to San Francisco.
San Francisco had wifi, which was simultaneously helpful and unhelpful, because I discovered that while I could fill out my visa application, it was too late to drop it off. I gave up and decided to wander around the rest of the strange Terminal 21 world.
London was up next, and it was complete with a double-decker bus, a phone booth, and Princess Di.
Rome was a brief stop, but I did admire its frescoes.
But the real gem of the day was Tokyo. It contained all of the following:
As I watched consumption rage around me, the loudspeakers blared terrible Christmas music. One song in particular caught my ear – it sounded like the usual “ooh, babybaby, it’s Christmas,” but then it started spelling out J-E-S-U-S in the least reverent tone imaginable. Truly, shopping is a religion in Bangkok.
* Don’t know who “they” are, but it sounds authoritative