Living in Bangkok is a wild experience. This city is massive, and the noise of traffic is inescapable. However, unlike some of the big cities I've visited in the West, Bangkok is also approachable on a human level. Maybe it's because of all of the street vendors selling food and clothing. Maybe it's because of the laid-back attitudes of many Thai people. Maybe it's because of all the potted plants. In any case, there is always a chance of running into someone or something interesting and new here.
One day about a month ago, I took off on foot for the Tesco, a supermarket chain that is big in Europe and Asia. I got lost and ended up under a bridge, by a food vendor. I bought dinner and sat down next to some Thais playing a form of checkers. They immediately invited me to play and insisted that I keep playing. After 45 minutes, I pulled out a chess set which I bought in Budapest in the hopes of playing with people throughout my travels. They went wild. We barely spoke to each other, but we quickly became friends. Now, every Thursday, I have about 90 minutes of chess and checkers with some motorcycle taxi drivers under a bridge in Bangkok. Last week, I introduced them to Led Zeppelin and the Doors during a thunderstorm. It's pretty much everything that I could ever want.
It's also pretty remarkable that chess and checkers are played on different sides of the world – although the rules are different here. Thai chess is much slower, and many of the pieces can't move more than one tile at a time. As it turns out, though, chess actually came from this side of the world, in nearby India, over 1500 years ago. From India, the game traveled to Persia, and from there, Arabs took it to Europe, where it grew and changed into what we know today. However, as I've discovered, there are many different ways to play chess.
Adam De Gree
I am a senior in college, studying philosophy, and am visiting family in the Czech Republic and travelling and studying in Europe and Asia.