Monsoon in Bangkok

Trip Start Sep 24, 2006
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Trip End Sep 01, 2007


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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I have to play some catchup now as since I am not on the road (subways, river ferry, city buses and skytrains don't count...) I feel there is not so much to report but I do want to touch base with what has been happening.  Everything is fine in this early monsoon season (rains at least once a day, with thunder and lightning and most have to take shelter in whatever they can; I have been luck in a way as I am either on the bus/subway when in comes down, or else indoors anyway.
 While Kim from Hanoi was here for the weekend, it was fun going around with someone, exploring Bangkok.  Went to see a couple of films (Zwartboek -Black Book, a German film (Eng subtitles) and Miss Potter, and everyone knows about that one.  We also went to the Jim Thompson teak house - he was an American who began the silk industry in Thailand, and his plane went missing 40 years ago and no clue as to where or how.  He apparently was a CIA agent and speculation abounds of who may be responsible (and if) for his death.  I now want to read more about him and his life. He brought in 6 beautiful teak homes from the countryside and put them together for his own residence. Decorated with wonderful ancient limestone and soapstone Buddhas, CHinese porcelain etc. There is a wonderful restaurant on site, tried the Pomelo salad, similar to grapefruit. But the prices, again, are so high, only tourists can afford to eat there yet the JIm THompson house patron is the Princess of THailand, so all the people can appreciate it! Yeah right...   
Anyway most days are filled out with some errands I have to do and a little sightseeing of places I have yet visited in Bangkok some observations:
1. People buy what looks like beach sand pails filled with items for Monks but they could be items for anyonesimilar to what we see raffled off in Canada, and look like packages of nuts, toothpaste etc. They take the pails to the Temples and give to Monks who blesses them first (they may take them to Monasteries as well, I just have not been privy to see it) but I have seen them give to Monk at a temple.  Supermarkets sell these pails already filled out, with plastic overtop so some of the stuff on top is visible.
2. This year the beloved King of Thailand turns 80 years old, and so does my dad.  Every Monday people wear special yellow golf shirts to commerate the King and yellow shirts are visible all days of the week as well.  Every day you read something in the newspapers about the King's birthday and about his accomplishments (he plays jazz on sax ( think it is sax) and composes Jazz, he has developed a special Thai rice grown in the north, etc. =- sounds like his is a very talented man, I think he also writes poetry (talented and sensitive..)
3. Not as many motorbikes here as in Vietnam, signifying the higher standard of living here where more people can afford a vehicle.  Also very seldom have I seen more than two people on a motorbike, while in VN, less than 3 people on a motorbike seems to be rarity!
4. I have seen lots of huge pickup trucks here and SUVs and where or where do they need to drive these big gas guzzling monsters?
5. Spiderman 3 opened up in Asia before Europe and NA and it is shown on 4 of hte 8 screens at the theatre near Victory Monument, where I am staying; same story at the rest of the theatres.  All day long, Spiderman is playing in dozens of theatres here. I saw it, lots of action, but a bit draggy. Am waiting for Pirates of the Caribbean and this aft I want to see the new movie with John Travolta called Wild Hogs...  Next with Nicolas Cage has been here for a long time and may break down and see it b ut have seen the preview so many times.
6. When you drugs from a pharmacy, they give you the blister pack sans any identifying packages or Side Effect info and nothing is even told to you. I took some meds and got side effects, took back to hospital which has now given me a credit and I will try to get it converted into some pain killers for future use. One of my errands today.
7. Also had to call Visa and have been trying for 3 days - first time I got through to their stolen card line (no other person availble) and they would not help me as my card was not stolen, I had an inquiry so had to call back today - with 13 hours time diff not always easy to find a time.Also here international phones hard to find and when you do they are on a noisy street, either in a stuffy phone book (still gets up to 35 daily) or else with no booth, just on the noisy sidewalk!  Not like other countries which have lots of internet/phone places). finally got through today from a stuffy. noisy phone booth.  Also local Thai calling card is difficult to use as not all phones seem to read the chip, and toll free numbers to Canada don't work Now have been trying to call Aeroplan, so know abou thte toll free number not working.
8. Have madea  few trips to the famous Kao San Road, the backpackers' haven which has just about everything a person could want, ie backpacks, trip bookings, internet, beer, cheap food, tshirts, second hand books...  It is actually just one block called kao San, with a few side streets with more of hte same.... lots of young  and young at heart travellers wandering around.  I take  city bus (#15), or the sky train to Saphan Taksin station and then the river ferry to Phra Arthit and walk from there.  City bus with no air con is 7 baht (about 20 cents and with air con it is 14, and when not rush hour, takes about 20 minutes from Siam Square.  I ahve walked between many sky train stations and actually they are quite close to each other, something that isn't that recognized once you're on the train.

I am leaving Thailand next Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. for Seoul, South Korea. I am actually looking forward to moving on, and get to meet cousin Seoul who lives at Iksan, south of Seoul, I will miss Thailand but know I will be back.  Wanted to go to Ayatthuya and Kanchanaburi on this trip but it didn't work out so will save for next.
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