Korat, Thailand, In the Daytime

Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Flag of Thailand  , Nakhon Ratchasima,
Monday, September 19, 2005

 After a time, it becomes too routine to see the same style temples repeated as if made from a pattern. One of the reasons we are even examining many of these is to see what they look like restored so we have an idea of what we're looking at when we visit Angkor Wat. Feeling certain that I'd grasped the concept, I stayed behind at the hotel today while my companion set our early this morning for a set of Khmer temples about 130km southeast of here. I read a little more of The Hobbit and headed out for the mall I found last night while wandering around town.

It's really amazing walking down streets for the first time during the day. It is a completely new experience as if someone unrolled a big carpet down the street with stores tumbling out every 10 meters. Anyways, I came to the main civic area of the town lying as a wide median for the main north-south route. Part of it was a part, part of it was a lake, and part was a large Buddhist shrine meant for the whole town to use. All around the shrine were guys in Kodak vests ready to take pictures for Thai Buddhist tourists. It was really kind of a novelty seeing tourist hawkers and have them completely ignore me. While on the subject, I find it interesting that in general, the motorbike and tricycle drivers rarely honk or ask "Where you go", but tuk tuk drivers ask nearly every time. The tricycle men seem to have little energy in them for talking, if they even speak English, which is unlikely. Last night I saw one just sprawled out on the pavement near his trike. I guess if you want a ride you wake him up. He has no home except the pavement near his trike.

I came across to a large indoor market that must have been an entire city block in size. As I started walking through I was truly amazed at all the wonderfully clean market items there were. Literally anything that was animal or plant could have been bought at this place. At one point I had to wait a moment because a series of 3 buckets had live fish in them and the fish were jumping from bucket to bucket splashing water everywhere. Past the candy makers and lettuce sellers, I finally came out on the other side. It'd be nice to have a place like this back in the US, if it could be made safe. Then again, the grocery store is pretty easy, and it leaves me more time to do other things like plan long trips...

On to the mall. Why the mall anyways? I find temples are good for looking at the past of a culture, and malls good for looking into the future. I don't find temples too useful because the doings of a culture in its past are generally due to misinformation or projects specific to a leader or regime. What people want to buy is almost always free from political power. By comparing their mall to my own, I can see how things work. Of course this is over simplified and gives a biased view towards the younger crowd, but the younger crowd will eventually be the older crowd, etc. etc.

This mall is an eight story mall with a few escalators and some elevators around the permiter. It's interesting that they pay people to be elevator operators. I guess they figure its cheaper than fixing them when teenagers break them. On the ground floor was a grocery store, KFC, DQ and some other food places. First couple floors were department stores stocking expensive designer clothes and the like. As I was riding to the third floor, I was thinking of how similar these vertical malls are. Clothing is always at the bottom with electronics in the middle and gaming at the top. More or less, its set up so younger kids take the stairs to the top and older folks can ride the escalators that exist on the lower few floors.

The third floor did not disappoint. The entire floor was filled with an endless amount of computer hardware stores and cell phone vendors. There was literally nothing you couldn't get here. Everything from the Epson printer type I had as a child to a $3000 full scale plotter. If such a place existed when I was in high school, I'dve spent way too much of my time there. I spent a good hour walking around to all the stores just looking at all the gadgets and hardware. I found a USB chargable flashlight that I considered buying, but I decided to keep my money in my wallet today. The next floor up had a couple of large computer stores that were similar to a Best Buy and CompUSA. Still entertaining, but not like down below. Of course, every video known to man was for sale, bootlegged. On the top floor was a Karaoke club with a group of teenage girls inside singing to some Thai artist. I checked out the bowling alley on the top floor but it had just opened after noon break so nobody was around except the employees.

Taking the elevator back to the bottom, I checked out the grocery store. They have a required bag check area before you go in. Inside I found a tennis racket shaped mosquito zapper. The netting of racket is metal mesh and the handle has a rechargable battery pack. You turn it on and swing into the bugs and it zaps them dead. I saw someone using one the other day and it was rather entertaining.

My companion arrived back from his trip around 7pm and we headed out to a Lebanese place for dinner. It was excellent. Probably the best food we've had since leaving Europe. I had a chicken kebab type of meal...it was just good. The man who owned the place was Lebanese, spoke English well, and was a great guy. Tomorrow we plan to head towards the town on the border with Cambodia and stay the night. The next day we will travel on into Cambodia towards Siem Reap, and Angkor Wat.
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