A Day in Bangkok

Trip Start Aug 01, 2006
Trip End Dec 29, 2006

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Thursday, November 2, 2006

We have two words to carry with us from our memories of Bangkok: Thai Buffet. The thirteen hours from London was surprisingly less of a hurtle than we had braced for. In retrospect we had done many eighteen or more hour travel days. Sure, changing types of transports broke these up: Bus to train, ferry to golf cart, or my personal favorite; bus, ferry, ferry, bus. Before launching into one of these days I would squat down next to Collette and explain, "Collette, today we are going to go on a train, then a boat and than a car, OK?" She looks blankly ahead and says, "yeah." "You like trains don't you?" Same far away look, "yeah." Off we go.

Landing in Bangkok's newly finished and massive airport we found our hotel driver. He was all smiles, talkative and had great ambitions for us. "Tomorrow you see Palace, beautiful place, must see, or perhaps see Elephants at Animal Park or see River Karu. Meet me at 7a.m. in the lobby." Wiped out from lack of sleep I mumbled something completely noncommittal and looked over at him with pupils the size of a drug addict's. Unfortunately we arrived at eight in the morning and had the whole day and night to overcome. Dizzy and confused with lack of sleep we walked into the hotel's dining area. There at various manned stations was every form of Thai cuisine. It was all you could eat and delicious. Eating more vegetables in one sitting than I did in all of Eastern Europe I was full and my mouth was tingling with the residue of hot spices. Collette and I tackled the roof top pool while Christy rested and I prepared for the evening buffet.

Trying to stay awake we headed for the local mall, which was past some vendors and through some incredibly hot and sticky parking lots. At the door to one of the department stores was a greeter dressed like an admiral in all white. He saluted us as we sought shelter of their air conditioner. I didn't know what to do so I avoided eye contact and marched through the door.

On the walk back a special thing happened. My thongs were separating and as we melted in the heat we passed a man repairing shoes in the street. Without a word being passed between us I showed him my thongs and he glued them together indicating that I should hold them closed for an extended period of time. Forty cents later my thongs were repaired and I was especially pleased with myself. Like I had planned this the whole time and it was through my cunning and intellect that I came upon the repairman. At the very least I thought special things happen to special people and I must be very special indeed to have been this lucky.

Early the next morning the same cab driver poked his head into the hotel and we were whisked back to the airport. Earlier we had noticed that many of the people were wearing a yellow t-shirt with a complex symbol on the breast pocket and scrolly Thai writing on the sleeves. It seemed to be a national uniform much like Bing Tang t-shirts are the national uniform of Indonesia. At the admiral's mall we had bought Collette one of these mysterious t-shirts. I asked our driver about them and he explained that they were commemorating the fifty year (or 35?) anniversary of the king and that the yellow color signified Monday, the day of his birth. Each day of the week had a specific color assigned to it but the driver was a little hazy when we pressed him for the remaining colors. "I think Tuesday is purple, perhaps red." This homage to the king was consistent through out Bangkok and at each of the ramps leading to the airplanes written in stylized printing was "Long live the king."

Our room overlooked the sprawling industrial landscape of Bangkok. High rises poked out of the haze and the whole was covered in a blanket of heat and smog. I couldn't imagine anybody visiting Bangkok without a specific reason, such as Thai buffets. Bye-bye Bangkok and hello Bali.
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