Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

We arrived at the Bangkok bus station at 4:30am and were a little confused as to where we were considering we weren't supposed to get there until 6am. Brian rushed off the bus to get our bags they were throwing on the ground and I gathered our stuff that was on the bus. Because we were an hour and a half early and some people were staying on the bus, Brian asked the baggage guy where we were and he replied with a loud "NO". So Brian moved over to ask the bus driver and as he was asking ,the driver shut the door on him and started backing up - I was still on the bus! Brian made him stop and the driver yelled at me to get off. So there we were, standing in a really crowded bus station and not knowing if we are in Bangkok or in a suburb. Of course there were no signs and no people knew what the word Bangkok meant - even though they live here. Everything is written in Arabic here, so it is literally impossible to read any signs.

An hour and a half later we got on a local bus heading in the right direction towards our hotel (we did get off at the right stop). Two minutes after we left the station, the driver told us we were on the wrong bus so he pulled over and we got off - and got on another. After all that and a long walk with our bags we finally made it to the hotel. Susan and Mike put so up at the Courtyard - thank God.

Bangkok is everything I remember it to be (I was here 5 years ago with the Longo's). It seemed sooo much cleaner than before, but I don't know if it actually is or if its that we have now been to multiple world cities and it just seems cleaner than the others. We wondered around that morning looking for breakfast but the only thing that was open was the 100's of food stands along the sidewalks. Fair enough, but we just weren't in the mood for spicy fish at 8am. Hate to say it, but we found a McDonald's. The rest of the day was spent swimming, sleeping, and walking around our neighborhood. That night we checked out the Night Bazaar which was cool. They have a huge stage that people sign up to sing on for the crowd. Like karaoke - some even had back-up dancers. Pretty sweet.

Our time in Bangkok included a lot of shopping - after all, that's what it's known for. I guess I was really the one shopping. They have a world famous weekend market that tops anything and everything like it in the world (so they say). We also went to the Jim Thompson museum. He was an American and after WWII stayed in Thailand because he loved it so much. He's the one who got their silk industry underway and made it into what it is today. He had a beautiful Thai house built in Bangkok and it is now open to the public. On a trip to Malaysia, Thompson went missing and no one ever found out what happened to him. There are rumors that a farmer ran over him with his truck and hid his body. It was really great to see this museum and what a authentic Thai home is like.

While in Bangkok you have to go see some Buddas, so we spent one day doing just that. We took a ferry boat up the river to the Grand Palace. We couldn't figure out how to get inside. The entire thing is gated off and we couldn't find the entrance. Duh. So meanwhile, we could get into to see the Reclining Budda - a Wat (or temple) across the street. We saw everything in that Wat and realized we didn't need to pay 8 times the amount to see the Grand Palace - which is 8 times the size as well. Plus it was super hot and humid. So we were standing outside the Wats deciding where to go and guy and guy was coming up to us and trying to sell us on a tour in his rickshaw (truck thing). We read about these scams in the guidebook. You pay and get in, then they stop the rickshaw and say you have to pay them more money to keep going and then they take you to a shop and won't leave until you buy something. So they kept coming up to us we kept turning around and trying to not talk to them. Didn't want to be rude but they were the scampers. One guy even said "F*** YOU!" Kind of funny because he probably couldn't say anything else in English. We used our feet and saw a lot of things that day - famous monuments and stuff. Climbed to a lookout where a bunch of art students were all painting cityscapes. It was fun to watch them paint. On the way back to the ferry we passed down a lot of interesting streets. Each one sold its own thing - one street was completely Budda's - millions of Budda's. Shop after shop after shop of Budda's. Another street was nothing but big wooden doors - only wooden doors, and then one of car parts. Very interesting.

The highlight of our day out was when I was interviewed by a group of school kids. Every continent we have been on, I have now been interviewed on camera by someone! First in Chile on the beach, then in Oz on the beach and now in Asia in a Wat. Of course it was fun - they just asked me questions about what I thought of Thailand. They spoke very bad English so they had a poster board up with the questions on it - thank God, or I would have sat there just shaking my head and saying "What?"

Also in Bangkok I had to take Brian back to the Emporium. This is where the Longo's lived for the 5 years they were in Bangkok. It is also a huge shopping mall with some good stores. It was fun to see it again and eat there. After going there, we had to walk down Soi Cowboy street. This is the famous red-light district where all the prostitutes hang out. Actually a lot of families go there to see it. The street was just bar after bar of girls sitting outside trying to get Western men inside. They dance for them and get tips and who knows what else...

The day we left we went to Fed Ex to ship a box home. Turns out the box got stuck in Alaska because they couldn't let it in because it had medication in it. I had packed a few things that we didn't need any longer and also bought a few things in Bangkok because they are dirt cheap! Well US Customs decided to keep that for themselves along with a few sand dollars that we had collected in Australia. Thank you Mike for calling all those departments and convincing them to send the box home and not back to Bangkok!!! Who knows what else they took out. The woman who packed our box did not tell us anything about this Customs information. So, anyone sends a box to the USA from another country - just don't include anything too valuable!!!

We lucked out and got tickets to leave Bangkok 2 minutes before the bus left. We took the 2 hour drive to the city of Pattaya...the original prostitution capital of Thailand. Of course, it was started by American solders in WWII and the home of our meditation retreat. Opposites attract.
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