Not Much Between Despair and Ecstacy...

Trip Start Dec 31, 2004
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Trip End Apr 22, 2005


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Where I stayed
Suk11

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Sunday, January 2, 2005

All right give me a break. Is it really possible to be in Bangkok and not have "One Night in Bangkok" in your head at least a couple times a day? If you can do it then God love you but I can't and do you want to know what's worse? Today I had "Getting to Know You" in my head, too. While I'm at it I want to assure you that I've yet to see a Thai citizen who looks even remotely like Yul Brenner or anyone who played the Engineer from Miss Saigon for that matter.

Today began with breakfast at my hotel in the quaint shaded wooden lobby of Suk11 (www.suk11.com) it was when I asked which pitcher contained coffee that I realized I'd been rendered virtually mute. The cold that followed me from NYC is now a full-on muscus-driven hateful buzz kill that refuses to let go. Add the spray of DEET to the air to ward off the mosquitoes and you've got a recipe for a hacking good time.

I've been through worse. I headed out and caught the Skytrain to the end of the line and then took a boat to head out and see the sights. First of all the Skytrain is brilliant and is all about Japanese efficiency and Thai finesse except for the videos that they play on the platform. One that haunted me for about an hour was scream-sung by a prepubescent spike-haired boy who jumped up and down as though he were tap dancing on a hot plate all the while "singing" "NANA!..NA!...NANANA!" Highly irritating and yet vaguely amusing for the first 15 stanzas, which by the way were the same as the first. At the end of the line I caught a boat until I saw something interesting. Wat Arun looked interesting and I'd heard of it before so I decided to get off and then take a ferry to have a closer look. It's a very interesting wat (temple) in the Khmer style and there are some nice temples nearby in addition that were frankly more interesting in that you could actually go inside them and they were still living temples packed with the faithful.

Afterward I had lunch around Khao San Road, which is the famous backpacker ghetto that is wall to wall unbathed round-eyes mixed in with people who used to look that way until they got jobs and now seem to stop by to reminisce. I want to make something perfectly clear here: The only white person who ever had cornrows who didn't look repellent was Bo Derek and even then it was offensive. While walking down Khao San Road I passed about two fistfuls of morons shamelessly sitting right out in the open while young Thai girls tightly braided their hair. If truth be told I'd rather the girls were prostitutes because at least I wouldn't have to watch them ply their trade on the streets in front of children. Sweet Mary Mother of God make it stop.

Something I learned today: No matter where you tell a tuk-tuk driver where you want to go they've got a better idea and that idea involves fleecing you. Sorry Mister Tuk-Tuk driver but I've been to India, Vietnam and Morocco and saw that coming about a block away. Cab drivers however seem to be more honest as a rule.

I needed some glamor in my life so I took a taxi to the Jim Thompson House. Check out the website www.jimthompsonhouse.com for some great photos and more information on this impressive museum. The basics are that Jim Thompson was a terribly chic American who used to work for the OSS (CIA) and fell in love with Thailand and revitalized the Thai silk industry and introduced it to the West. His compound of antique traditional Thai homes that he bought and reassembled (inside out I might add) are brilliantly decorated with centuries old Khmer, Burmese, Chinese, and Thai sculptures along with Belgian crystal chandeliers, Italian marble floors and Chinese porcelain. Seriously this was inspiring -- especially the mirrored Burmese drums he turned upside down and whipped up into lamps. I mean for heaven's sake Jim Thompson was the Jim Williams of Asia decades ago. I've got to learn more about this Jim Thompson character whose disappearance in 1967 while in Malaysia has yet to turn up any clues. My tour guide who was charming and delightful told us that Jim Thompson was once married to a famous model (a woman!) and I found that rather shocking if truth be told.

I wish that I could speak or I'd have gone to see my new best friend Dan Rather but instead I took the Skytrain back to my neighborhood and ate my fourth plate of Pad Thai in 24 hours.

Hopefully this bug will relent if only long enough so that I can taste my gin and tonic. In the meantime, "Get thai'd you're talkin' to a tourist whose every move's among the purist."



Cheers,
Christina
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