Back in Bangkok

Trip Start Sep 24, 2006
Trip End Sep 01, 2007

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Well I must say I feel that is my 'Asian home'.  Don't know why this farm girl from Saskatchewan feels at home in this big city but I really appreciate the friendliness of the people, feeling personal safety, and compared to Vietnam, the absence of motorbikes and cars incessantly honking (motorbikes don't even have MIRRORS on them, noticed that on La's machine as well as the persistent sales approach of people selling things on the street as they will follow you even after you have said "no, thanks".)  Lonely Planet guidebook advises to say 'no' just once, and keep walking, as to keep saying it or to reply to what they say is an exercise in futility...  They are just trying to earn a living and their stories, which I have heard from other people, are very sad... trying to support family members at school, old parents or trying to save money to get a better education. 
I forgot to mention something that happened in Siem Reap.  I had told La that he would probably have more business if he had a tuk tuk and he said he couldn't afford one. Then I suggested he would be a good tour guide, as he has some English and a very nice personality and he said he couldn't afford the year long course to be an official tour guide, and he couldn't do it even unofficially as he would be fined, and even if he was a tour guide, the government and police are so corrupt, they expect bribes for the privledge of being allowed to guide tourists, even after official training and he couldn't afford the bribes!  Anyway I asked him if he had learned about Angkor Wat, Thom  and its history at school and he said not very much, and he  had to drop out of school. I said what he needed was a book like what I had, then he could study up on the history while improving his English, and at least be able to talk to tourists a little about Angkor informally. He said it would take half his monthly salary to buy a book like mine!  The regular price for mine was $27.95 US but I got it from a vendor for $11.  So I decided to buy him a book like mine, so I found one like mine (from another stall who only wanted $7! for the $27.95 book) - it  has beautiful pictures, detailed history of each temple and community and suggested he read it to his one year old son, so his son will learn English, La will improve his English, and they will both learn about Angkor.  He was very happy to get the book, and he thanked me over and over, and especially for the 'ideas' of reading to his son!  He hadn't thought about that.  So the next day I asked him if he had a good night the night before and he said yes, he had started reading his book.  Such a small thing, and it may make a difference to his life, his vision.  Too bad, he has so much potential. I can see why SE Asia have lots of babies - it is to relieve the dreariness of their lives. Most have very little, if any employment ,and especially in THailand, there are 3 people doing the job of one person, just to keep employment up, so they are all bored, look bored, and maybe their only excitement is what their child is up to!! Anyway that is my theory.

So, back to life in Bangkok. Even though I got a relatively good deal (28,000 baht for one month) at the Royal Asia Lodge which I booked through the internet via a listing in the Lonely Planet, I scoured the Bangkok Post for ads for good monthly rates on serviced apartments and looked at 2, both would have done.  I was looking for a pool that had some shade The first was House by the Pond, off Suk 22 and then I took the Skytrain to Victory Monument station to find The Victory.  Both places I couldn't find right away and had to go into swank hotels nearby to ask for information on location, and both places did a wonderful job of trying to determine where it was and how I should get there. The former actually hailing a motorbike taxi for me (oh Joy!) and I got there in record time of course (had to take a motorbike taxi on Monday as well, but that is another story).  ANyway the VIctory is a gorgeous colonial era/style building and I think their website is, and they have an outdoors pool (what was I thinking, the water is near boiling point anyway) and complementary passes to a gym next door.  ANd it is 5 mintues away from Central shopping mall with everyone one could want, including 2nd floor skywalk to the sky train station! Every sky train is connected to an aircon mall... and only 18,000 baht a month ($600) plus 100 dollars for water and 6 baht per unit for electricity (air con adds up!). So I moved there Thurs. am. Asia Pacific were very good about it, hailing me a taxi etc.
Anyway, while in Siem Reap, I found a copy of the Bangkok Post at the Foreign Correspondents Club, and noticed there was the 5th annual Australian film festival taking place at the SFX Emporium Cinema in Bangkok. So I found the place and bought tickets for 8 movies over this weekend. Yesterday aft. I went to a presentation by the Film Studies Professor at Bond University, Gold Coast, Aust. and he showed film clips of some famous Aust. films, including "Crocodile Dundee"and "Gallapoli" and a few I had never heard of but now what to try to track down on DVD.  Behind me sat a woman who spoke English and we started talking. She is a Director of Watthatri Language and Computer School and also teaches English there.  We may be able to hook up tomorrow afternoon to see one of the Aust. movies. Her School sends students to the University of Melbourne. Last night I went to see "The Rage in Placid Lake" and "Three Dollars", today I will see "Danny Deckchair", "Somersault" and "Dirty Deeds" and tomorrow "The Hard Word", "Year of the Dogs'" and "Peaches".   Got back to my place on the last Skytrain at midnight, and it was very safe. Lots of food stalls still on the street, lots of people on the Skytrain coming from the movies as well.  Hard to believe that such big cities can be relatively safe. 
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