The exotic world of Thailand
Trip Start Jan 22, 2009
13Trip End Mar 19, 2009
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The beachfront sky, only several meters away, started to glow from the lightly thrusted steady ascension of fire glowing lanterns, the lanterns rising ever higher to the stars that floated over the Andaman Sea. Chinese New Year had begun...
But wait! How did I get here, here in this Fallini inspired carnivalistic nightlife environ known as Patong, a beach town on the southern Thailand Andaman coastline.
Shall I start in the beginning , a mere four days ago.
This current journey, my Southeast Asia Peace and Love Tour, began on President Obama's inauguration. I decided to pass the baton of entrusted responsibility for the country to this fine gentleman while I was away for the next few months. I think the country will be in good hands.
The flight transition from USA to Bangkok, Thailand went extremely well as did the quick, courteous transfer from the airport to my New Siam hotel, located in Banglamphu, a central Bangkok neighborhood located in easy walking distance to the major sites. I proudly proclaimed "Siam...I am", which to me sounds like a philosophical collaboration between Descartes and Dr. Seuss.
Within easy walking distance of my hotel was the Grand Palace, former home to the royal family, a majestic, ornate compound filled with graceful, beautiful structures and temples. A side structure was a museum dedicated to the weaponry used by numerous ethnic armies over the centuries. Just looking at the gruelsome collection of swords, axes, spikes, tridents and bayonets makes one utter the words OUCH !
The more peaceful route one may choose in life was epitomized in the neighboring wat (temple) Wat Pho which housed the massive golden Reclinng Buddha. The Reclining Buddha represents Buddha in his final moments, reaching the state of Nirvana.
Other strolls through Bangkok took me through pier side marketplaces, colorful flower markets and bustling merchant-minded Chinatown. All my senses were kicked into overdrive reviewing the array of foods, flowers and goods that were offered.
As to Thai cuisine, its plentiful, tasty and inexpensive; such menu choices like phat thai, spicy Tom Tom soup, spring rolls and delicious, thirst-quenching watermelon, papaya and freshly squeezed orange drinks. Grab them at a restaurant or at a street side food stand.
At night, soak up the touristy scene and be seen parade of people that make their way through Banglamphu's Th Khao San promenade.
Chinese New Year was fast approaching and upon hearing the town of Phuket had a Chinese community that celebrated the new year, I booked an overnight bus heading southward toward the islands and Phuket.
Achieved relative sleep aboard the bus, which did come equipped with reclining seats, A/C and movies to watch.
Pre-dawn stop at bus transfer stop (we transfer?) and sleepily myself, and mostly young backpacker group crawl out of bus. You know you're in Thailand when you look across street and see three monks dressed in their orange robes receiving offerings from kind neighbors. The sun then awoke, some nieghborhood kid lit some Chinese firecrackers and we were back underway, crossing a lush mountainous region (could see somebody riding an elephant in the distance) before catching my first glance of the Adaman Sea and eventually Phuket.
Thanks to pre-Chinese New Year preparations, Phuket's streets were very quiet on a Sunday afternoon. Sweating under the hot afternoon sun while walking the streets with my bag, I managed to get my bearings, found a reasonable bed for the night and began to find some life in town wandering the streets again san backpack.
Thanks to the helpful hint from a smily restaurant proprietor, I set out looking for festivities, following the red firecracker debris through the town's old central section, passing a restaurant that was showing a Jackie Chan movie...quite appropriate for the occasion
Though decaying, the colonial architecture of the buildings with their columns, varandas and fading pastel colors still evoked the ambience of glory days past when the town profited from Portuguese, Chinese and Malay traders.
Turn down the next street and there was the neighborhood block party! With a makeshift bar, and a makeshift stage, several bands, played vintage 70s rock n roll as well as great jazz and bossa nova tunes. "I'll have a gin and tonic please", I said to the hip bartender and sat down to enjoy the music. Very cool, very casual.
The next day, the beginning of Chinese New Year, I hopped on an open air local bus and arrived at that wild n crazy beach mecca.....Patong. And now you know how I got here!
Photos coming tomorrow.
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