Monday, February 1, 2010

Bangkok III

The “cool” season is over apparently. Our run of low 80s and minimal humidity has ended. Back to the 90s or higher and instantaneous saturation of clothes humidity. Its a Minnesota thing to discuss the weather when you are: A. avoiding a controversial subject B. have nothing to say, but want to remain polite C. doing recon for an upcoming fishing trip. I (no we on this one) wish it was for reason C that I bring up the weather, but no fishing trips are in sight. We will go with option C and a bit of D for this one. Option D is when a blog needs to be written, but no harrowing, humorous or enlightening subjects are available. See this. I just killed a quarter page in an explanation of why this blog post might be a bit lackluster or disappointing to some. Another sentence, wow am I good at this...

We traveled to Bangkok this past weekend to give the big city another chance. I had a girlfriend in the 10th grade give me another “chance” after we broke up because I failed to drop enough coinage on our first date. Who knew that a Crave Case from White Castle and a trip to buddy's basement for two hours of Nintendo 64 (Bond-Goldeneye) wasn't romantic? Anyway, this second go with Bangkok worked out much better than the second date, an hour of ice skating in sub-zero temperatures and her paying for hot chocolate from a gas station ensured my pager never blew up with her number. Again, with the dodging of the main point. Maybe I am a Republican, err, I mean a politician deep down...

Bangkok is impressive in it's ability to lure a traveler into thinking one will cover a lot of ground and see many sights in a few days. Our plans called for a two hour journey to the city from Dan Chang, with a planned ETA of 6pm on Friday night. Leaving the DC at 4pm was all good, but when the van stopped in front of the local rice paddy for 25 minutes in what we think was the driver's attempt to ensure rice was actually growing, we knew there was trouble looming. Traffic into the city was brutal, no one was moving, even the motorcycles that speed between lanes were slowed to a snail's pace because all lanes, even the ditch were backed up. We made the drop off point at 7 and took a harrowing ride on a motorcycle taxi to our hotel. Sitting on the back of a scooter that speeds between cars is a good way to reflect on life. Deb's knee took paint off a local bus and I wet myself a little when we caught air after hitting a bump in the road. It was the quickest and albeit terrifying, easiest way to get us across the city. We grabbed dinner and drinks with some friends before calling it a night.

Saturday we had every intention of seeing as many sights as possible since we had not been back to Bangkok since November. A mix of scorching temperatures, mass congestion and an appalling lack of directional awareness on my part led to only a few of our planned destinations being reached. We saw Wat Arun, built on the banks of the Phraya River, it is very big. The ascent to the top is similar to Mount Everest we think, but well worth the burning of calories when you see the view. Boasting a 360 look of downtown Bangkok you get a real good understanding of why it takes so long to get places. We enjoyed the cool breeze on the top and even got a couple Pulitzer quality shots of two monks visiting the temple. Our Paparazzi tactics did not phase them in the least, must take all the zen they can muster when idiots like me are chasing them around the temple with a camera.

We also visited an amulet market, on display were about 2 million of very similar looking Buddha or related objects that the Thai's are always buying in hopes of increasing their luck. We did not invest in anything but did enjoy the different sales pitches of the vendors. Our favorite, “buy now and live to tell about it.”

Completely wiped out from our trek across the city and feeling a bit embarrassed we could only muster two main attractions in a day we consoled ourselves with a little snack at a German restaurant. I enjoyed a Bittburger (best German beer ever) and a liverwurst sandwich. Deb went with the classic Pomme Frites and Heineken. Our evening was topped off with a nice Indian dinner and some more soda's with a couple of other fellow teachers.

Sunday we mustered our remaining strength and visited the largest market in Bangkok (many say the world). It was enormous, swallowing up entire city blocks the place is a black hole and should be investigated immediately by NASA. We walked for over two hours and maybe covered an 1/8th of it. A few purchases were made and I declared victory when we found the exit many people said did not exist. There is little more we can remember about the market, I think some of the vendors are born, raised and die there without ever stepping out of the place. B-I-G.

Monday marked the beginning of our last month of teaching। Its hard to believe we are closing in on our last days, but something tells us there is a whole lot more in store before we leave. There are enough weekends left to travel and enough days left to teach that we should be able to keep the blog intact, if not, well...There is always the weather.

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