Sunday, May 23, 1999

En route to Bangkok

The Hong Kong airport has that sound dampening stuff all over the place. The sky is overcast. The air is humid. My passport has both entry and exit stamps for the same day at Hong Kong. The guy looked at me funny when clearing me out of the country, because it was still only early morning. But I had to go through customs to check my bags into storage (around 10 US dollars a day each). I traded in $US 100 for 3500 Baht. I don't know how much sleep I've had, but I'll sleep well tonight. I scored a window seat for the flight to Bangkok. So I'll see Vietnam from the air, in theory. The pen goes away now to prevent it from exploding like the other one. Crossed the coast into Vietnam, then continued on over Laos. There are still a good deal of clouds, but it's still pretty scenic. Thailand is pretty green. Big white fluffy clouds straddle the hills.
We touched down at 9:25 am, and by 10 o'clock I'm sweltering in the open air bus station (it's 29 C or 84 F). Solicited by a cab, 350 Baht or $US 10 to town. Ok, fine, it's easier than the bus. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car. The road workers are all wearing those pollution masks. The driver didn't speak English and I didn't have anything smaller than 1000 baht. He pulls up along some other fellows and I flash the $10 bill, they point at it and nod to him.
 I checked into the Khaosan Palace Hotel for 280 baht a night, room F2. That's 8 bucks for a bed, fan, bathroom (shower/sink/toilet).
The room is so small I had to use the mirror to get far enough back
#7: Do not bring prostitutes in the Hotel
Tuk Tuk drivers tried to con me as I left the hotel. Met a "teacher" who told me of a Buddhist holiday at some temple, told the tuk tuk driver where to go. It was 1)under construction and 2)"over just minutes before I got there". Which would explain why the place had no people in it. Right. After that, the driver took me to a suit store, and I got out without purchasing anything. The driver asked where I wanted to go, so I said "boat tour". I haggled the price to 400 from 600 baht. Saw lots of poverty, a monk with a motorcycle in a river shack, and a woman selling stuff on the river. I bought an unripe mango and a beer for the boat driver for 60 baht total.
My first (of many) monk sighting



Smile and wave!
My mango dealer
Kids waving
Boy jumping into the river
Went to Wat Pho with 50 minutes left. Picked up a guide who told me the roof is like a serpent and it goes from earth to heaven. There is a bird's head on top, and it's holding the two serpents in its claws.

Also something about serpents and water. Buddha's pose with one hand touching the ground is to repress the evil from the ground. Interesting stuff. Caught a cab back to the hotel, had curry chicken with rice and a pineapple shake while watching Arsenal vs. Thailand (soccer) at the Lucky Beer in Khaosan. Went to sleep 9ish.

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