Thailand, Spring 2006
Bangkok – Monday, November 6, 2006
Last Saturday night I went to the famous (at least around here) Suan Lum Night Bazaar. It's not far but too far to walk. One can actually see it from Barry's balcony. Anyway, I took the subway three stops to Lumpini station. When you get off the train you ride up the longest escalator I have ever seen. It must be about four stories high. I took a couple of photos, one from below and one from above but they don't really show how high it really is. The station is adjacent to both the bazaar and Lumpini Park, a very large garden park also visible from Barry's balcony.
The bazaar is similar to Chatuchak market but a little more expensive and not quite as vast. The aisles are just as narrow but it is less crowded. I had some roast pork over rice and a local beer for dinner then ran the gauntlet of the market itself until I was hot and tired. I think I saw about three quarters of the market and picked up a couple of gifts for friends.
Deciding to take a taxi back to the apartment, I made my way to the street where they were lined up. There were both taxis and tuk-tuks waiting to overcharge the unwary tourist. The first couple of cabs I tried wanted a fixed price well over what they would get with the meter. The third tried this too but when I walked away, he changed his mind. The subway cost me about fifty cents and I had to walk about a quarter mile to catch it. The taxi ended up costing me a dollar and a half and I was delivered to my door in air-conditioned comfort. A bargain if ever there was one.
Sunday was quiet, mostly I worked on my computer. Barry arrived home mid-afternoon from Pattaya and in the evening, we went to the Sheraton for dinner. I had the buffet which was wonderful but expensive, especially for here.
Today is Monday and I again spent the morning and early afternoon working. Later I went to MBK for food and a little more shopping. The food was great but my heart just wasn't into the shopping. All I got was a small belt-clip camera case to replace one that was falling apart. After returning to my neighborhood, I got a much needed haircut.
When I arrived at the apartment, Barry was back from teaching and we both worked on our computers while listing to music and comedy. I guess we will be joining John for dinner later, if there is anything worth writing about, I will.
John was late arriving so by the time we arrived at the restaurant, the kitchen was closed. Fortunately for us, they agreed to start the grill and make us some barbequed ribs. Fortunate, I say, because they were really good and served with some decent chili and so-so coleslaw. The temperature was pleasant so we ate outside under what might have been stars if there were ever visible through the thick murk they call air here.
Speaking of the air, nowhere else I have ever been have I experienced getting something in my eyes that stung them while walking down the street or riding on a motorcycle. This has happened several times here and the closest approximation to it is standing in front of a camp fire when the wind shifts in your direction. It seems to happen more often in the vicinity of one of the thousands of mobile kitchen food vendors that line the streets large and small from morning until, well, morning.
Bangkok – Tuesday, November 7, 2006
Tuesday was a slow, quiet day, in part because I hadn't slept long enough the night before. Barry and I went out to Suda for lunch and again for dinner. This covered, open-air restaurant has terrific food are low prices. While eating, one is often accosted by people trying to sell anything from cigarette lighters, sunglasses, fake Rolex watches, and all manner of trinkets presumably made by poor hill-country folks.
Also meandering between the tables is the occasional street dog looking for scraps or hand-outs. These creatures are well-behaved for the most part and during our dinner, one curled up and went to sleep (or so I presumed), against the wall next to me. There are a lot of dogs on the street wherever you go here. Some of them clearly belong to someone due to the collar they wear. Others are of indeterminate station. Those I have seen don't bother anyone if they are left alone. The only exception was one dog who really didn't like a man in dirty cloths with long matted dreadlocks. He barked at him apparently to encourage the fellow to move along. That's fair; I wanted to avoid him myself though I managed to refrain from barking.
Before, between, and after our culinary ventures to Suda, Barry and I both worked at our computers and listened to music. Throw in the occasional beer or iced tea and it made for a very pleasant day.
Bangkok – Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Having caught up on the sleep I missed the night before, I arose and made my way again to Suda for another great meal. My agenda for the day was a return to Parntip Plaza to pick up some things for friends. While there, I saw several shops that sold large ink jet printer ink reservoirs to replace the over-priced ink cartridges. It would be nice to escape the tyranny of reliance on ink cartridges. Alas, they were all for Epson printers and I have HP.
Just before I arrived home, Barry called to say that John would be coming by to pick us up so we can go to a nightclub for dinner and drinks. It is a few miles from here but the one-way streets with no turnarounds combined with a lack of street signs to send us a great distance out of our way. I was tempted to ask sarcastically if we were still in Thailand. At the end we did arrive at the Witches bar where they had over-priced food and drinks and music so loud you couldn't think; forget about conversation. John, apparently likes places with loud music. I am not so fond of them and I don't think Barry is crazy about them either.
Bangkok – Thursday, November 9, 2006
This evening, I went to MBK to meet Madee, a Thai student I met earlier this year when she was attending Oregon State. We connected with Bat and Nut, two more students I also met in Oregon. With Bat driving, they gave me a tour of Chlulalonkorn University where they are students of accounting. Chula is certainly the most prestigious university in Thailand and also considered the best. This is where Barry is teaching in their graduate business program. Here we met three more students and, in two cars, braved the rush hour traffic and made our way to a delightful restaurant right on the river. And I mean right on the river. Small boats would come buy selling a variety of foods such as dried squid and dried fish, both delicious by the way, similar to jerky.
They treated me to a fantastic meal and they reminisced about their days in Oregon which they miss very much. The restaurant had some very pleasant music with three musicians playing and singing a mix of American popular songs new and old. I was surprised to see the ladies singing along with the same tunes as I did. Their company was extremely pleasant and we had a lovely time. Nu told me to save room for dessert and after dinner we drove to an interesting little bakery/coffee shop. The place specialized in toast with a variety of toppings. We shared buttered toast covered in sweetened condensed milk, another covered in chocolate sauce, and cut up pieces of bread that were placed on our forks and dipped into a coconut custard. They also had an eclectic mix of beverages including warm milk and various coffees and teas. Everything was delicious and I was thinking that a shop like this in Corvallis would do very well. This was comfort dessert food, sweet but not too sweet. I think it would be especially soothing on a cold rainy day, something we have plenty of in Oregon.
Alas the evening had to come to a close, they had class at 9:00 the next morning. This was a very pleasant evening and these are delightful people.