Continuing my journal of my time spent in Thailand, here is Part 2.
Tuesday, December 16th
Today, Vicki had school to teach, so I headed off on my own for once. I tried grabbing a cab to Putunam Market, but I completely failed the first try. I had a pocket Thai dictionary and was trying to pronounce the name of it in Thai and English and it just wasn’t working. I hopped out of the first cab and then hopped right into a second one, in which the driver spoke a bit more English and understood me.
Putunam Market isn’t really a market, but a series of stalls all along this big street. Nothing really caught my eye, but it’s always fun browsing, the Thai people are very friendly to foreigners. That was one of the annoying things for me because for the first time in my travels, I haven’t been able to fit in. Generally I can pickup language and customs quickly, but being tall and white in Thailand always makes me stand out. At best when I travel, I wish to be treated equally like a local, but it was a challenge in all of Asia actually.
Anyways, here’s a pretty building:
Here’s the street that houses Putunam Market on its sides. I’d like to point out the tiny motorbikes flooding the street, those are my favorite method of travel. They are for short distances, you can find bike stations every few blocks and they are so fun to ride 30-40 MPH on the back of a bike with someone else driving. They zip in and out of tight traffic and you just hold on. I loved them!
There was another massage place that I stopped off at around there for a foot rub, it was nice to kill a few hours getting a massage anytime you wanted. Very relaxing and healthy for the body.
Along the way, I grabbed some rice with egg. One of the things unique to Thailand is the way they eat their meals: mostly communal and outside of their house. They eat many small meals throughout the day also, sampling lots of different meals. I loved that aspect, because it was easy for me as tourist to try alot of food and eat it on the go.
As I continued down this street, I came to Central World mall and the Siam Paragon mall.
Central World was only about 7 stories tall, but quite elegant and full of “rich” stores. It’s another interesting contrast when you have so many poor people and people in poverty on the street and yet here’s a huge air-conditioned mall with all the same luxury goods of the US. They were in full Christmas gift spending mode as well!
Then I came to the Siam Paragon, one of the largest malls in Asia. Jeez. This place was 8x as nice, with limo service outside, an aquarium in the basement, multiple theaters, and again, every luxury brand you can think of. The best thing I found while randomly wandering around was a string trio randomly setup playing Christmas music. The mall was practically empty, save for one other guy listening with me. They were a great trio, it’s just a shame for their performance to be only heard by two people.
I found my way outside and headed south. I came by a big mural of the King, so I might as well explain. The Thai people love the King ALOT. You don’t ever say anything negative about the King or you get arrested. He’s about 80 I think and solved many problems for Thailand and is very beloved. You see pictures of him every where, he has his own song which is played on the radio and TV at 8AM and 6PM every day, and also has a picture montage displayed before every film. He is everywhere.
My destination was Lumphini Park. I’ve heard people practice yoga in the mornings, but it was nice to check out some natural flora and relax for a bit.
Watching the motorbikes take off from a stoplight is always fun. Other random observation, they have stoplights with displayed timers on them; it shows that the light is 60 seconds long and counts down until it changes again.
At the park gate, there were a bunch of soi dogs lying around. ‘Soi’ is the Thai word for street, so they are street dogs. Many many stray dogs randomly running around Bangkok.
Near the North end of the park, there was a school, where I grabbed some quick food and hung out with a motorbike driver for awhile. He was very friendly, I guess, due to dealing with all the kids from the school. He spoke like two words of English and I spoke about six words of Thai, so we managed to talk and gesture for about 30 minutes, it was great. I think all of my gesturing with people with who don’t speak English have made me amazing at charades.
As I was heading home, I found one of the most delicious foods ever, roddi or rotti, I’m not sure. Dough is flatten out and then cooked in a large circular bowl. You get toppings added on top of the dough as it cooks and then it’s all sandwiched together, cut up, and covered with sugar and condensed milk. I got banana below, mixed with egg, below and it’s amazing!
Two hours of massage after dinner and I had a great day. Bangkok is a very laid back city. Here is a shot of the sun setting over the city!
Wednesday, December 17th
Up early today around 7AM, to head to school with Vicki! We caught a bus around 8AM, it’s a 30 minute ride North to the official college campus. Class started at 9AM and I hung around and watched in the back of the room. Learning English is viewed as something very important for Thai people to rise out of poverty. I guess Thailand is a 2nd world country, with a good mix of poor and rich people. By learning to speak English or I guess a second language, the Thai people can interact with the rest of the world in commerce and improve the quality of their nation. Most of the students in the class were wealthy Thai kids, although there were a few Chinese students who were part of the international program. Even other countries do study abroad!
A comment about the campus, it’s huge. With labor being cheap, you can build huge things for cheap.
I don’t get the Roman/Greek architecture influences but I guess they view them as being fancy or official. In Thai terms, this is a very private and expensive college, their kinda Ivy League, so you gotta make it fancy.
Another amusing thing was that they use Dawson’s Creek as reading material. I hate to think that a teenage sitcom is how they view American customs.
I let Vicki teach and wandered around campus to find free Wifi for my iPhone. Most of Thailand is quite connected to the Internet and no firewall either, unlike China! We headed home by 4PM and then got ready for head out shopping. Another day, another sunset!
We headed out with some of Vicki’s friend to a local mall for dinner and rode on motorbikes there. I love them so much!
The mall was packed of course with people doing Christmas/Winter shopping. We headed to an all you can eat for 2 hours conveyor belt sushi buffet. It cost about $5 USD? I love conveyor belt sushi, America needs more places like this. The wait staff loved all of us because of course, Americans love their buffets! Everyone was very friendly and loved having us come in.
Finally, we headed outside this mall to a nighttime market. This was a real experience, night markets are not really typical tourist fare, so it was nice to be alone, wandering around. Scarves, burned DVDs, shoes, tattoos, miniature pets, knives, swords, haircuts, bags, purses, you can find it all.
We finished up the night by going to see “The Day The Earth Stood Still” in a theater. It was in English with Thai subtitles, with the King song montage before of course. The best part was bringing beer into the movie and drinking the entire time. America has amazingly stupid drinking laws.
Thursday, December 18th
I got up early again and headed back to the airport. The taxi driver ripped me off by saying he didn’t have change for my 100 dollar Thai bill, but I didn’t mind too much because it was like a $3 taxi fare and I needed to get rid of the Thai money anyways. Always trying to rip off foreigners…
My flight from Suvarnabhum Airport to Kunming, China was about 4 hours long and cost about $300 USD. There were only like 4 other white people on the flight, always a fun game in Asia, count the white people. I got served coffee, red wine, green tea, cognac, and scotch during this flight, I tried to stay hydrated as best I could! I arrived in China and then began my journey alone.
Bangkok was a great city, quite affordable for housing and food for an American with the exchange rate. The people were very friendly and good handful spoke English or were interested in learning. The beer, Singha, was cheap and good. The women, or atleast the people I thought were women, were all pretty attractive and petite. I can see why so many expats want to retire there!
I spent about $400 USD total for the 5-6 days, a good portion of it on drinking and buying clothes/gifts. It’s really not expensive to get by, maybe $20-30 USD a day easily or less if you just want basic food and housing.
I’ll continue with my travels in China soon!