Bangkok is a wonderful city. Oh I know it's polluted - diesel hangs in the air like soup, and there's the endless hiss and smell of frying street food. I know it's noisy - the honking of car horns, the music blaring from restaurants and bars. I know it's exploitative, of tourist and Thai alike. But I still love it.
There are so many things to do. On Saturday I visited the Palace - all gold and glitter and, to western eyes, possibly over the top, but even so it is sumptuous and there are unexpectedly peaceful corners. The city has parks - maybe not as green as those at home, but still places with scrubby trees where you can find shade on the hottest days. There are vast, air-conditioned shopping malls, though you won't see me there.
Instead I'm lurking in the backpackers heaven of Khao San Road. And here you can buy anything. You can choose material and have a suit made. You can have a foot massage, a shoulder massage. You can have your fungally feet nibbled by fish who have, just five minutes ago, been nibbling at someone else's fungals. You can buy skirts, t-shirts, baggy trousers, necklaces, pirated DVDs, scarves, knickers. You can buy a driving license and a degree certificate.
Go to Chinatown and, in the tiny market stalls, you can find wigs, fabric, gold (possibly fake), remedies for everything from alopecia to athletes foot.
Go to the Amulet Market and you can find old coins, artefacts (possibly fake), glasses, dildos, false teeth.
Make it back to Khao San Road in one piece and you can get a piercing, a tattoo, get your hair cut.
You can get your eyelashes permed ... What??
Why would anyone want to get his or her eyelashes permed?
And then, should anyone decide that his or her life is not complete without curly eyelashes, what is involved in the procedure? A smelly lotion and tiny curlers? (Pause to savour that image for a second.)
Am I missing something? It my life really incomplete without permed eyelashes?
(Sorry if I'm letting the side down heading for Malaysia with none of this stuff!)