Bangkok - day 3
Trip Start Jun 16, 2011
69Trip End Nov 10, 2011
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Tony is a 42 year-old tuk-tuk driver (who looks more like he's 50...) and he made my day. He started off by arousing my suspicion. Indeed, my Thailand book clearly stated that a tuk-tuk driver proposing a 20-baht ride was highly suspicious... I told him about my concern and what I liked about the man is that he told me straight away what the deal was : he takes me where I want to go and he also takes me to his "sponsors", i.e. shops which give him coupons for free gasoline when he brings a client. If the client buys, he gets 5 coupons. If the client doesn't buy, he gets one.
Because the guy was straight I said yes. I was really inspired to do so. I had a great day with Tony !
A bit of his story now. He's a widow (does one say widow for a man by the way ?), with a single ten year-old son, called Bang. They sleep in the same bed and Tony didn't remarry since his wife died five years ago because his son is not happy about a new woman in their lives. Tony basically spoke about his son nearly all the time. How the kid goes to school from Mondays to Fridays, to football on Saturdays because he wants to play like Zidane (guys, Zidane is a sesame word !!) and helps his dad clean their apartment and do the laundry on Sundays. Tony is the son of a Chinese man and a Thai woman and was born in Thailand but considers himself Chinese !
So basically, he took me to a tailor shop (sponsor), then to the reclining Buddha (my wish), then to another tailor shop (sponsor), then to the official government tourist agency (my wish on his advice) for plane tickets to Phnom Penh, then to a jewelry shop (sponsor), then to a popular shopping mall (good prices Nadege !) to buy a digital camera for my dad.
And then I was starving. So we went for lunch to a Chinese dim sum fast food which was awesome ! I bought him lunch. He was ecstatic ! (mental note : buy a Chinese tea set, with the Chinese boat and clay tea pot before i go back to Europe) and so was I because I had the best Oolong tea ever, prepared the Chinese way (see mental note :-)).
After that, he dropped me off at Khao San Road, but not after giving me his phone number for when I come back to Bangkok and advice on how and where to leave Khao San road, what to expect, what to be careful about, what tuk-tuk not to take, etc... A dear.
Khao San Road is a LOT of fun. First of all because you see all those dirty looking backpackers hanging out on terraces drinking beer and looking "so cool duuuuude". I laughed thinking I would probably look like them in a couple of weeks. Basically, there is everything you can be looking for here, from medicine to alcohol, from funky t-shirts to thai massage. And, oh yeah, I indulged myself, oh yeah, to a half hour neck and back massage for the horrendous amount of 120 bahts (3 euros). The worst part, I think, is that it's gonna look expensive to me in a couple of weeks, I know that...
After doing a mental checklist of what's available there for future use... I went back to the hotel by boat bus and... Found my dad still in bed (yes, at 5 pm). He reassured me, telling me he had gotten up for breakfast... I pushed him gently and forced him to come to the swimming pool with me, where we stayed until nightfall (6:30). And you know what ? He drank an iced tea ! Oh, those who don't know him won't understand... But I hereby wink at those who do... And who must be as surprised as I was :-)
An uneventful evening, eating risotto at the hotel restaurant which has supposedly been the best Italian restaurant in Bangkok for the last 10 years... And yes, it's good :-)
And if yesterday, my dad and I talked about how words such as "sanction", "elite" and "discrimination" were not properly used and understood nowadays, well, today's main topics were "truth, impressions and opinions" as well as "Islam's various branches" and the Gaza flotilla... Yes, never a dull moment in his company ! :-)
I am a bit worried about tomorrow. We are flying out to Phnom Penh and this is the moment of truth : my dad lived there when he was a kid (from 5 to 11). He hasn't set foot in this country since 62 years... It was Indochina then and his dad was a rich French government employee, with, as you can imagine, a nice colonial house, personnel, cars with chauffeurs, etc... Phnom Penh was beautiful and considered the Paris of the east... I read in my book that the town today is probably the least safe in the area, that it's dirty, dusty, noisy and that some architectural horrors exist... His former high school is now the genocide museum... And his former house probably no longer exists. I repeat : I am a bit worried.
But tomorrow is another day ! :-)
Love, love, love.
PS : Needless to say that Tony was definitely the highlight of the day ! :-)