When you can eat a meal outside in Bangkok, without perspiring on it, that can only mean one thing: Winter has arrived. And that means that Thais will break out their winter hats for the next few months, when the mercury falls below 80 (that's about 27C). Street dogs will be seen wandering about with old t-shirts on, clothed in hand-me-down Buddhist compassion. And the streets will fill with even more people than normal, eating food and drinking. 'Tis a wonderful, and all-too-brief season, this short-lived drought of stickiness.
To kick it off last night, we went to my local beer garden. I call it 'The Tent' because that's what it is - a jolly bigtop that serves grilled chickens, rock salt rubbed fishes and sour salads to hundreds of locals every night. It's full of well-fed, friendly dogs and blind men wander through on occasion, singing mournful songs through their battery powered amplifiers. Occasionally, an elephant plods by and delights the drinking crowd by eating their fistfuls of sugarcane.
This all probably sounds very routine if you live in Bangkok, but it's still strange and wonderful and very fun for me. Pots bubble over a single hunk of charcoal and friends plop cubes in each others' drinks, chasing them with whiskey and soda. They'll laugh and eat talk and order all over again and stay long past expected. And from tomorrow night until February, that's probably what I'll be doing after dark too.
(The Tent is located on Narathiwas, just before Soi 24, on the same side of the street. I forgot the Thai name, but if you're heading north on Narathiwas and Rama 3 is behind you, it's the first restaurant on your left, just past the pedestrian flyover. I'll get firm details the next time I go. Soon.)