Thailand, Spring 2006

This is an account of my trip to Bangkok in May and June, 2006. Click one of the links to jump to an individual chapter or back to the photos page:
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Chapter 2

I went to a tango Practica last night. It was not far and was very near the SkyTrain station only three stations from where I am staying so it was very convenient to get to. The tango scene in Bangkok is small but there are some good dancers. At the Practica last night, there were four men and four women. I was told that there are usually two to three times as many. Still, I had some nice dances with a couple of the ladies. Two of them were good dancers, one was a beginner, and one fancied herself a good dancer but she and her husband had specific choreography and if you didn't do those specific moves lead the way he does, then she didn't follow very well. I will probably go back next week. I guess if I ever moved here permanently, I wouldn't have to give up tango.

One of the fellows, Chris, said that their regular instructor was away in Germany and asked if I'd like to teach in his absence. I am reluctant to step on any toes uninvited so I didn't pursue teaching any classes but I did show some of the folks there some moves. None of them were doing close embrace by the way. Also one of the ladies, the best dancer there, knows Alex Krebs. My, that man does get around.

My friend, Noi, wants me to teach her to tango because a couple of her friends are learning tango in a class somewhere not, apparently, from the same instructor as seems to be the prime mover of the community here. That remains to be seen. Maybe I'll try to go to one of these classes and see what they are doing. Always good to see what and how other instructors are teaching.

This morning when I got up, Barry had either left already or had not gotten up yet. Silly me. He eventually arose at the crack of noon and we went to lunch. We were joined by Noi and by Rudy at the Sheraton again. The food there is considerably more expensive than the other local restaurants and while it is very good, it's not traditional Thai cuisine. I would rather have eaten at Suda or at Took Lae Dee, which translates to good and cheap, and which pretty much sums it up except to say that it is open 24 hours a day, has an enormous selection of Thai, western, and Japanese dishes. Seating is all at the counter where you can watch the ladies making your meal. The food there has never failed to please. Alas, it's not Rudy's preferred establishment and probably not Barry's either most of the time. Also at the Sheraton, they all know Barry and treat him like a king, or at least a king who you can joke with. He teases them like crazy and they love it.

After lunch, I was again persuaded to join the others for a foot massage. I must admit that, other than the pain, it's not unpleasant. I told the lady "bow bow" which, loosely translated, means gently. It worked to a small degree. The camaraderie was enjoyable though.

Later we each went our separate ways and I strolled down the main street looking at the goods displayed at the almost unbroken lines of vendors hawking their wares along the sidewalk along Sukhumvit. Most of these vendors are on the opposite side of Sukhumvit from here and there are two ways to get across this extremely busy thoroughfare. The approved way is to go to one of the overpass bridges, hike up forty or so steep steps in 95 degree weather and, today at least 100 percent humidity. The better way is to wait for either a break in traffic (an unlikely prospect), or when the cars are at full stop due to the heavy traffic. They you can walk to the median island and wait for one of these same events allowing you to cross the rest of the way. What makes it particularly exciting is that on the other side of the median, the traffic is going both ways. Sometimes even in the wrong direction for the lane of traffic. One really has to be an artful dodger to cross the road here. This is true at even at the intersections of Sukhumvit and the smaller side streets. Technically, pedestrians have the right of way. However, what is supposed to happen and what actually happens are two very different things.

For vehicles, it is even more difficult. With a few exceptions, the side streets do not let you turn right as that would mean crossing Sukhumvit. Instead you turn left into the flow of traffic and go until you find a place to make a U-turn or find another route. This makes Sukhumvit into an unnatural barrier and drivers prefer to do whatever they can to remain on their side of it. Sometimes even taxis refuse to take you to a place on the other side.

As I was doing my street shopping, I stopped into a barber shop for a haircut. The young woman who cut my hair did a really nice job and included a razor cut for my sideburns and the neck. Also included was a brief neck and shoulder massage all for about $5. I left her a sizable tip.

I made it back to the apartment just in time as the sky has opened up and the downpour is amazing. The double sliding glass doors to the balcony are both open and the noise of the rain is amazing. The buildings in the distance have disappeared and even the closer ones are a bit hazy. I got caught in one of these rains unexpectedly on my first visit here in 2002. I was about a half block from my hotel when it started and, thinking of the rain in Oregon, though I could make it back without getting too wet. Boy, was I wrong. I was soaked as if I had fallen into a river. I'm now much more cautious. If it starts to sprinkle, I head for cover immediately.

A few days earlier I had stopped by to see George the tailor to have some more clothes made and today I stopped in again to pick them up. Having well made, custom tailored clothes here costs just a little less than buying off a discount store rack in the U.S. What you lose is having permanent press so I find myself doing more ironing. What I get is clothes that actually fit well. The silk-blend pants are wonderful and hang beautifully. I'm also having a sports jacket made but by a different tailor. George's tailors take a few shortcuts that separate his clothes from the truly high quality and I wanted a really nice jacket so we went to a place that does top of the line work. I will go in on Monday (this is Thursday) for a first fitting.

Friday night I had a dental appointment to remove the stitches from my surgery. The dentist said that everything looked good but that he was leaving some in due to a little inflammation. Other than that, everything looked good and he adjusted the denture so that it would no longer rub against the inflamed areas. It felt much better after that.

On Saturday, I had another dental appointment, this time with the prosthodontist. Actually, it ended up being three visits with him that day and left me without any upper teeth for the entire afternoon. I used the time to get a two-hour body massage at Marble House, my favorite place. The cost was about $10 and I was so relaxed when it was finished that I could hardly walk. I was joined on the final dental visit of the day by Barry and we went to dinner at an Irish pub and had fish and chips. Afterward Barry asked if I wanted to see the famous Patpong entertainment center as it was nearby. Being curious, I said ok so we walked through it. It was odd. Basically it was a short wide street of bars and shops with three rows of vendor booths like what you see elsewhere hawking everything from replica watches, to folk arts and clothing and lots of other things. The bars had shows consisting of scantily clad young women on the ground floor and, we were told by numerous fellows trying to capture our attention, had quite disgusting shows upstairs. Neither of us was interested in either so we just walked through spending more time looking at the various vendors' stalls, getting soft drinks from one of them.

On Sunday, John came by and picked us up to go to his home on the north side of the city near the airport. First we picked up Esteban then took a route I would not be able to duplicate to get there. John's house was custom built for the former owner who never moved in. It is very interesting and very strange. It's three stories. On the first is a carport, the maid's quarters, and the entry which leads immediately to the stairs for the second floor. The second floor has two sizable rooms at either end of a long narrow floor plan. The living room is at the front and the kitchen/dining room is in the back and they are separated by an outdoor area with a long narrow swimming pool . The third floor comprises three bedrooms, one of which is used as an office. The stairs between each floor are an open type giving a very open feel.

John's girlfriend, Nok, was there with John's young son and stepson, so was John's ex, King (pronounced Ging), the mother of the two boys and whom I knew from earlier visits. Ging pretty much stayed with the boys in another part of the house. Nok and the guys ordered pizza and KFC delivered and we sat around talking and joking until around nine so John could get ready for a trip the next morning to Singapore.

Monday I had my final visit to the prosthodontist for this trip. We took an x-ray while I was wearing a clear acrylic copy of my denture that he had modified to contain radiographic markers of exactly where the implants would be placed. This same device will be modified again to place drill guides where the markers are and will be used on my next visit to actually drill the holes for the implants.

After seeing the dentist, I rode the Sky Train to Parntip Plaza to pick up some things for friends and for myself as well. It's hard to really capture the size and scope of the place. You'll just have to come here and see it for yourself.

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