Wednesday, May 26, 1999

Bumming in Bangkok

It's about 5:30 am and I am just rising from 12 hours of discontinuous sleep.
"Pretty Fly for a White Guy" and "Do you believe in life after love" by
Offspring and Cher, respectively, were songs that woke me up last night. By 6:10am
I was in a cab to Lumpini Park, on the way I saw dozens of monks collecting alms
(food). By the time we arrived at the Park, it was 6:30 and traffic was
beginning to pick up. Lots of Chinese exercising in Lumpini-Tai Chi, running,
walking, etc. There is music floating in the early morning air. Very relaxing.

 Left the park headed north on Ratchadamri. Saw the Hyatt erawan shrine, famous for people asking it to grant wishes. Breakfast was in McDonald's down the block-McChicken sandwich combo. No breakfast menu, but they did have "Samurai Pork Burger"...the quarter pounder? There is a Starbucks "Opening Soon" next door.
Get your zen here
Wandered down to Siam Intercontinental Hotel. Everyone smiled like I was a guest. To complete the image, I walked around like I knew where I was going. Afterwards, I shuffled over to the Siam Center, a large shopping area. Doesn't open until 10 am. It's 8:25 now, and I'm nursing two scrawny Dunkin Donuts and a slurpee in the air conditioned dining area. There are two movie theatres and both are showing The Matrix. A sign with something about the Phantom Menace too, but I couldn't figure out what it was saying. The music in Dunkin Donuts is a Thai version of Soundgarden. Cool. Back to the Siam Intercontinental Garden-peacocks and swans just chillin' out.


Caught a water taxi to Wat Sakhet (I barely missed the first one at 10:25, because I was on the wrong side of the dock.) I arrived at 10:40 am. Basically, the boat comes up, people jump off and on, the boat never really stops moving. The fare taker walks along the outside ledge of the boat, on the other side of the spray curtain.
Water Taxi stand
Walking around the stores surrounding Wat Rachanada, I ended up in a conversation with woman who was sitting in the back of one of the dark rows of stalls, writing down the English lyrics to some love song. She was having trouble with one of the words. She asked me for help, so I read thru what
she had written down. Three-fourths of the characters were legible. The others disappeared in the cursive writing. We made small talk for a while for her to practice her English. It was okay, but far better than my non-existent Thai skills. To this day, this was one of my "had to be there" kind of memories that is too difficult to describe in words and can't be captured in a photo.


Lunch was curry duck with watermelon and papaya shakes, back at the Sidewalk Café in Khao San. I was surprised when the duck came out in a soup. Boy, did that clear out the sinuses. When back to my room, took a nap. Around 3:30 I woke up, exchanged money, and had to buy a new belt because the one I had was mildewing or something. Anyhow, it was ruining my clothes and I still have 6
days to go. It still strikes me as odd to haggle prices around 100-200 Baht. It's like fighting over whether I'm going to pay $4.50 or $5.25. So they knocked 30 Baht off. It may be 1/6th the price, but it's not even a buck. Whatever. But it's a significant amount to for them, which only reinforces how privileged I am to be taking this trip.

Dinner around 6:15 pm at Nat Guest House while watching "She's All That". A sweet and sour chicken with rice meal with pineapple shake-75 baht. Some Marley started playing across the street. Okay, here's one annoying thing about this road (where us cheap tourists stay): I was eating dinner and five different children came up to me with a laminated card saying, in effect "Give me money".
Also, the number of deformed beggars here is far higher than the rest of the city. Out on the east side of town, I didn't get solicited by either a tuk-tuk or a beggar. Once I got back, it must have been a dozen times. That, and I think I also got solicited by a whore during dinner. Hey people, I'm eating here!
Khaosan Road - aka expat alley
Around 7 o'clock, a lot of the curbside vendors have shutdown. The number of white girls with tattoos is simply staggering. Around every third one I see. And those are just the visible ones. 10:20 pm and it's pouring rain. Or so it seemed from inside. Apparently, it wasn't still raining, just water pouring off of buildings and stuff. Walked up and down Khao San at night-no vendors, just restaurants doing business. The weather is much more comfortable at night,too.
I crashed at around midnight.

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