As we were preparing to move to Thailand I had an exchange with the man I was replacing here at the Embassy in which I asked him if there was anything he would like me to bring him from the United States that was hard to find in Bangkok. His response was, "If you can't find it in Bangkok, you're not looking hard enough."
I did not intend to try and prove him wrong, but up until just today, I thought I had. The item?
Specifically, shoelaces for the brown dress shoes that I wear to work almost every day. I noticed a few weeks ago that the laces were getting a little frayed, so I began looking at the various stores we frequent, trying to find replacement laces. I looked at MBK, this gargantuan mall in downtown Bangkok that has shops galore, but no luck finding shoelaces. Probably because that places is like many "malls" around here--basically outdoor Asian markets with ADD and A/C--they seem to sell everything. There is just too much to take it all in. I'm surprised more people don't end up twitching on the floor with seizures from stimulus overload while walking through MBK. At least it has A/C. And a McDonalds.
My next attempt was Carrefour, which I think can probably best be described as a French version of Target, but done Thai-style. Those of you who've been to Carrefour know what I'm talking about. Those of you who haven't, try and catch the 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. employee dance. Good times.
Anyway, Carrefour had brown shoelaces, but they were those big flat ones that you use for athletic shoes. Not exactly the best option for today's junior diplomat.
I was starting to get desperate, mostly because one of my shoelaces finally broke. That left me with just my black dress shoes or my brown Doc Martens to wear to work. The Docs are okay on dress-down Fridays when I swap my usual wool trousers for khakis, but they just look horrible with a suit. So, the hunt continued...
...and today for my lunch break I meandered down to Central Chitlom. I went to the men's shoe department where, lo and behold! Shoelaces! For dress shoes! See, my predecessor was right, you just have to look hard enough.
Oh, and you know that saying about how you always find things in the last place you look? Yeah, well I'm totally going back to MBK to see if I can find shoelaces.