A Chinatown Love Story
A fairy tale kind of love story, but with a different happy ending.
Reading Time: Approximately 4 minutes
Suggestion: The photos of the actual locations are in a gallery at the end of the story. See if what you imagined aligns with what actually exists!
On the edges of Chinatown, every few months, a delighted woman would start her turn in a curious game again. She wanted to receive a special gift in the evening, but first, she had to leave her own gifts in the morning. Like the last time they had played, she put on the same satin yellow dress, the same jewels in her coiffed graying hair, and the same elegant, but still sensible, yellow dress shoes. The sun was her muse, and she channeled its warmth through her smile in the mirror, a beautiful distraction from her equally beautiful wrinkles and spots.
As a final embellishment, she brandished her matching yellow umbrella, ready for a bright day or heavy rain. She started her journey with a visit to the Smiling Place, looked down at her feet to check her location and then looked up at the sky to radiate a smile. The puffy white clouds and the anticipation of that evening’s gift made her smile even more cheerful.
Her feet instinctively took her to the next stop, a visit to the House of Brown Pencils, where her eyes automatically started counting how many pencils were in the sun. Her shoes sparkled like gold as her feet started moving in a dance; each pencil was one twirl until the number of pencils was reached. The umbrella spun in time with the flutter of her voluminous skirt, transforming her into a yellow spool of thread whirling around the sidewalk.
The golden girl crossed the busy bridge over the murky canal, extending the tip of her pointer finger to greet their Favorite Lion with a little boop on his nose. She spied the hidden blue chair as she approached the street corner with the Three Blue Eyes. Concealed from most of the street, she sat down and a blue box emerged from the folds of her dress, secured by a little blue bow. She nestled it in their Secret Spot, invisible to all except for players of the game.
Tickled pink, the lovely slice of lemon stretched, her smile following suit, and got up to bow to each of the Three Blue Eyes. She made her way to the Mountain of Silverware and Napkins, hopping around in front of the mound to count how many mouse dresses she could find in the jumble. She was now ready to curtsy at least thirty-three times to any cat or dog she would see. Sometimes the same cute animal would cross her path twice, prompting a giggle and another curtsy.
The bounce of her bright skirt led the way down the narrow alley to another one of their Secret Spots. Another box materialized from her dress and she nestled it among the plants, whispering to them to keep it hidden except for players of the game. She continued like this, on their special route, until she arrived at their Meeting Place. She pulled out a book and waited.
Sometime later, as the sun was starting to dip into the horizon, a man emerged from the same building as the woman did that morning. His appearance was no less peculiar than hers. A shiny silver suit was perfectly tailored to his lanky frame, complete with shiny black shoes. A handsome dark silver top hat was securely planted on his bald head. The man combed his crescent moon mustache one more time because he knew it looked great with the composition of wrinkles and spots on his face.
At the Smiling Point, he chuckled at the glow of the early evening sky, eager to finally take his turn in their game. When he arrived at the House of Brown Pencils, his eyes darted around, counting the number of pencils that were in the shade. As soon as he learned the amount, his feet were on their own, tapping to a song in his head. His hat would fly up and down in time with the taps, creating a blurry wave of silver in the air. If it were raining, he would then dance the number of pencils that weren’t wet so he could get to the next location a little faster.
The silver fox made his way across the same busy bridge over the same murky canal, giving a double boop with his finger to their Favorite Lion as he passed. The sight of the blue chair excited him as he approached it. Sitting down, he reached into the Secret Spot and pulled out the blue box, undid the bow, and popped what was inside into his mouth.
A new sensation made him twitch his mustache in response. He quickly pocketed the blue box, bowing to the Three Blue Eyes, from left to right. At the Mountain of Silverware and Napkins, he hastily counted how many mouse rings he could find. With that number in mind, he tipped his hat to any child he saw as he rushed to the next location. If they ran ahead of him to get addressed again, he simply saluted them with a raise of his hand than risk losing his hat in his hurry.
The beam of glistening silver came to a stop in the narrow alley, directly in front of the Secret Spot. The plants bowed, recognizing him, and revealed the blue box. Again, he opened it and popped what was inside into his mouth. Becoming even more animated, he forced himself to visit one more location to get one more box before taking a shortcut to their Meeting Place. He knew she wouldn’t mind.
The man was in a sweat when he appeared in front of the woman. Two large grins appeared on their faces, seemingly oblivious to his pungent odor. Before he went to kiss her, he opened the last blue box, swallowed the last little blue pill, and energetically delivered the gift she had been waiting for.
Talad Noi, Bangkok, Thailand
How to explore this story for yourself
You can get off at Saphan Taksin BTS and roam/taxi north until you reach around Charoen Krung Soi 28 or 30. Then continue going north on Charoen Krung Road by foot.
Tip: Find a path that will take you to Soi Wanit 2 (pinned in the map below). You’ll see busy scrapyards and impressive street art. There’s even a hidden Chinese mansion around here!
Don’t forget to say hi to the golden woman and silver man! ;)