Thailand, Fall 2006

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

Bangkok Day 4 – Saturday, October 28, 2006

I had to fight for it but I got a decent number of sleep hours. Drugs help. I find that taking melatonin at night for the first few nights help get me regulated to the new time zone. I forgot to take it Wednesday night so didn't adjust as quickly as I had on my last visit. Anyway, there is still some mouth pain but I was able to have a light breakfast of tangerine juice, donuts, and tea. The tangerine juice here is so much better than any orange juice I can find in the U.S. I wish I could get this stuff at home. I brought some home on a previous visit but liquids are heavy so I'm limited on how much I can carry.

Chatuchak market is a wondrous place. It is open only on weekends and is a staggering collection of vendors of almost everything imaginable. In the pet section alone, there must be several hundred booths, stalls, carts, and tiny restaurants. There are puppies, bunnies, and other mammals by the hundreds, birds by the thousands, and fish by the millions. If these are exaggerated numbers, it cannot be by much. I started walking down one row of vendors and walked several hundred yards, perhaps a quarter mile, before I got to the end. There are several parallel rows of pet and pet supplies vendors. There are even more vendors of apparel. House wares, artwork, antiques, stone carvings, woodworking, lighting, music, videos, food and more food. It just goes on and on and on. Here you bargain for everything, except perhaps the food.

I bought some Thai iced tea. It came in a plastic bagwith ice and a straw. The bag had handles and it was easy to carry and drink while walking. If you haven't had Thai iced tea you are missing a treat. It is a strong sweetened tea with milk. Over here, they use canned condensed milk, usually Carnation brand.

Most of the rows have a walking area about four feet wide, sometimes less with displays encroaching on the walking space. If someone stops to look at something, and someone always does, the foot traffic jams up like Bangkok street traffic. With the many thousands of people buying and looking, it can get pretty cramped. I don't know why, but I love it. Being in a crowd of people like this is exciting, even if I have to walk sideways to squeeze around people and duck under signs and hanging merchandise. I heard all manner of languages some of which were familiar. Thai naturally, several dialects of English, some German, some Dutch, some Japanese, Hindi, and others I couldn't recognize. Fortunately for me, English seems to be the second most common language spoken. My Thai is improving but I am far from conversant. I can count, ask where the bathroom is, and request that my food be not too fiery. I know how to say "I understand" and "I don't understand." The latter I use a lot.

Bangkok – Thursday, November 2, 2006

Several days have passed and I am just now getting back to working on this journal. I haven't been quiescent in that time, just lazy. I've even been working on the computer, just on a productive streak that I didn't want to break.

Monday was one of those days that is epitomized by the curse, "May you live in interesting times." In the morning, I did some more shopping at MBK then met my friend Rudy at Parntip Plaza, the computer and electronics super mall. After getting everything I wanted, I caught a taxi to the nearby Sky Train station then on to my dental appointment, just an exam, nothing painful. At the conclusion of the appointment as I was reaching for my wallet, nothing. My pocket was empty and suddenly, so was the pit of my stomach. They checked the exam and waiting rooms but it wasn't there. The last I remembered having it was when I paid the taxi driver. The folks at the dental office called the cab company (though I didn't correctly remember the color of the cab). One of the office women, lent me a 500 Baht bill (about $12.50) so I could get back to the apartment and have something to eat.

I was lucky in that, although I had just lost three credit cards and an ATM card plus about $250 in cash, I did have travelers checks in the apartment. Alas, I fear I was so upset that I was snarling at Barry. I managed to contact two of the credit card companies and have the cards disabled along with ordering new card for when I returned. I had not yet completed it with the other card when I got a call saying that the cab driver had found and turned in the wallet with everything intact. Fortunately, I had a piece of paper with my new cell phone number here (I haven't memorized it yet) and they found it and called. Hooray! I was practically giddy with elation.

A friend of Barry's gave me a ride on a motorcycle to the place that had it. After I identified myself, I got everything back. We also got the cab driver's phone number and asked him to stop by here after his shift the next day, Tuesday, where I rewarded him handsomely though he protested it as unnecessary. Also on this day I made my way to the dentist's office to repay the loan double, again amidst protests that it was too much.

After the extreme ups and downs of Monday and Tuesday, I stayed in yesterday and alternately worked on the computer and relaxed with Barry as he was packing for his impending move. We eventually ventured out for dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant where I had a delicious dinner of fusilli with crab in a light tomato cream sauce. It is maddening to be in a place with so much wonderful food and be able to eat so little of it because I cannot chew. Paste, however, is on the approved list so long as it doesn't have chewy meat or veggies in it.

This morning I got up relatively early and got something to eat at Robinson's food court. It's close and reasonably good and definitely inexpensive. I stopped by my tailor George's shop to schmooze before getting a haircut. There was a wait for the haircut so I decided the haircut could wait but I didn't want to.

Riding a motorcycle taxi back to the apartment, I was marveling at how, on a road so narrow that in the U.S. we would call it an alley, not only do cars going in opposite directions pass each other, albeit, slowly and carefully, but the motorcycles will even overtake and pass cars that are not going as fast as they would like. Not only is this road, like so many other roads here, narrow, the lack of width is exacerbated by vendor carts, tables with stools, and many pedestrians using up a sizable portion of what space there is. Perhaps I should get a photo that illustrates it better than my poor descriptions.

So now here I sit, in Barry's living/dining room with my computer on the dining table and a network cable connecting me to the world. I just called my dad on his cell phone with Skype, 11 am here, 8 pm there. The temperature is moderate at 80 to 85 but with a nice breeze so the windows are open and the breeze even reaches me here. Life is good.

Bangkok – Friday, November 3, 2006

Today is Barry's moving day. The last couple of days have been spent packing boxes. The movers arrived around noon and did a very nice job of wrapping furniture and other items so that they would not be damaged. When they were done, Barry left with Rudy for Pattaya where they met the truck.

I stayed behind because If my dental appointment, probably my last for this visit. I went out for lunch and decided to try something other than Kow Pad Poo (fried rice with crab), a dish I that is both tasty and one I can eat. I've had it at four restaurants now and each was different, but all were good. I was looking for something different. I meandered over to Suda and had a Thai omelet with crab (hmmm, notice a theme here?). It was served with rice. Thai omelets are different than what one finds in the U.S. Here, they mix everything into the eggs and usually cook it in a wok floating on some hot oil. One can get stuffed omelets and I have gotten one stuffed with deliciously ground pork. There are a lot of Thai food recipes online. Some good ones can be found here and here and here. Check them out if you like Thai food.

At the dentist's office, I asked one Dr. Parp (Dr. Puttipon Mongkonchat), who was standing at the front desk, if they had a policy of hiring only beautiful women. Virtually every women in the place is very attractive, including Dr. Parp. Well, they all smiled, giggled, and blushed slightly. The men who work there are also good looking guys though I'm not the best judge of that.

My appointment was with Dr.Surakit, my oral surgeon. He removed the sutures and adjusted my denture to put less pressure on places that need to heal. They he gave me the good news that I could once again eat normal food though he cautioned against anything especially hard or chewy. No problemo!

I went to a gathering of folks, some of whom I met online in a forum for people living and/or visiting Thailand. They meet every Friday night at a local restaurant/bar/pool hall. It is a big place called Gulliver's. Anyway, believe it or not, the first thing I had to eat now that I could eat regular food was a plate of fries. Not too exciting maybe but they were good.

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