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Bumming around Bangkok

December 8, 2011

So at the time I was writing my first post this morning, I was supposed to be calling the Peace Corps doctors here, and I am blaming jet lag and three bad hours of sleep I had for the fact that I did not…but yikes. I got an e-mail, attempts to reach me on my cell phones (which are turned off here in Thailand), and two messages for me at my hotel.

In the meantime, what was I doing? Not deliberately avoiding them. I know the real reason I am here. But for some reason, when I got up it really did completely slip my mind. Instead, I had $1 Pad Thai for breakfast, and a nice young man helped me order it without seafood (but it seems that it automatically comes with tofu). I also had fresh pineapple and some other fruit which looked like mango, but tasted like melon. Hmm.

On a recommendation I decided to visit Jim Thompson’s house. I figured that would be easier than trying to visit the Grand Palace, especially since today or tomorrow is the king’s birthday, so it ought to be crowded.

Then again, Bangkok is crowded. Very crowded. People, people everywhere. Food everywhere too. I am adventurous when I know what I am looking at, but I did bypass some things today. However, I will admit to again eating the “street food” as I am on a strict budget and not only is it in general tasty but also cheap and hey, if the Thai people eat it, why can’t I?

Back to my train of thought…

After JT’s house, I took a long walk in search of Chinatown. And I kept looking at my watch, then wondering why I was looking at my watch (HAH! My unconscious mind was trying to tell me I was in hot water). What I found when I was searching for Chinatown was (1) the main train station and (2) the temple of the Golden Buddha, which also had a history of the Chinese in Thailand. Very interesting and I know I am not a bad photographer but I have to say NO photo will do this guy justice. Can I also say – some of the foreigners (cough) there were pretty rude. There were people coming and kneeling before the Buddha and offering prayers and such, and these yahoos are standing right in the middle of them, taking flash photos! Sheesh! I discreetly took non-flash photos because I loved their devotion – amid all the jerk foreigners, there they are, praying. But I try to think that I do so with more than a modicum of respect.

Still trying to find Chinatown, I ran across a Chinese Buddha, and a man told me to return at 7:00 p.m. for some festival in Chinatown. In the meantime, he said, here is a good place to go shopping, and I took a tuk-tuk there. Mistake. It was not the kind of shopping I was looking for – air conditioned, GEMSTONES laid out. I beat a hasty exit outta there and went in search of the nearest Metro stop.I had a mission to complete.

A long time ago I made a promise to someone I love dearly that anytime I am in a new city with a Hard Rock Cafe in it, I will get her a pin. In order to do so without also buying dinner, as I was getting hungry, I stopped where the locals eat (which is anywhere actually except the tourist places) and had dinner (which I photographed). I also photographed myself in the tuk-tuk. Then I could not resist raspberry smoothie – MAN it tastes good to eat fruit again!

So to my sister, I have fulfilled my promise again, and the pin has little tuk-tuks on it! I also invested in a t-shirt for my niece, as I did not buy her one in Prague. They are no cheaper here but I also need a shirt to sleep in here, so two birds.

Apparently many Thai people bathe twice a day. So did I today. It got warm and huuuuumid, then rained, so of course my hair is a total disaster. But I am clean and fresh again. As for the hair, oy, nothing to do but cut it all off, which would mean freezing when I return to Ukraine, so I will just have to deal with it.

On the way back to my hotel I could not resist buying a couple of snacks since I will soon be headed to bed to try to catch up on the sleep I lost last night. I cannot wait to try the peanuts covered with coconut cream – they sound interesting. In general I am sticking with things I can identify or things someone can describe to me (although I mistakenly got LIVER at dinner – you think I would not make such a rookie error anymore).

If anyone from Peace Corps reads this, once again I apologize. I know I am here for medical reasons but honestly, honestly forgot to call – and my subconscious mind WAS trying to tell me I was screwing up. I hope I am forgiven as I have an overall strong track record of following the rules.

Tomorrow it is off to Peace Corps Thailand…then, well, we will see if I am grounded or can explore more.

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