Friday, April 4, 2008


Hello everyone from Asia! I am now officially in the thick of it. I took an overnighter from Brisbane straight to Bangkok, and my hotel was right smack in the middle of Chinatown, so right after dropping my bags off and getting a map (on about 2 hours of sleep) I walked out the door into a world teeming with noise, cars, tuk-tuks (those little motorcabs), street vendors, shops selling all kinds of strange foods, scooters, people everywhere, and seemingly no sense to it at all. But somehow it all keeps going, so I guess it works.
Anyway I did the usual, took a riverboat upstream to the Grand Palace, found out I couldn't get in because I was wearing shorts (it was, after all, almost a hundred degrees), then was assured by a palace guard that the tuk-tuk driver waiting nearby would show me all the main sights, was an honest guy, four-square and upright, and was probably a boy scout at one time. Well, the guy was ok, but between temple stops he kept stopping by these posh clothing or jewelry stores, and begging me to "take a look, just five minute", so they would give him a gasoline voucher. I complied just to be nice, but didn't tip the guy when done.
Then at a huge street market area I saw some westerner drinking a "Tiger" beer at a cafe table and asked him how it was; one thing led to another and we were joined by several other people until it was two tables of people drinking from Canada, U.S. (me), Denmark, South Africa, Norway, Australia and probably Iceland for all I know. The original guy is pictured here lighting up from a ridiculously huge lighter he was snookered into buying from a street vendor. It was great fun but they were all chain-smoking, and even though we were outside I just couldn't take it any more and went back to the hotel.
The next day I had some catching up to do on both sleep and emailing, so I didn't go out until the evening to see the Night Market, which is just like the other markets (only darker). It was also near the Patpong, the sleazy district, so I had to check it out, and it was about like I pictured, crammed with bars, old white guys with young Thai girls, and someone asking me what I wanted or where I was from every 20 steps. That can get as annoying as cigarette smoke, so I left after a while. The whole thing was kind of sad; desperate Thais trying to "rent" their pretty young women, when they should be trying to protect and educate them. It's not a great situation.
Anyway, the next day I left for Chiang Mai, which I'll tell about soon. See ya then!

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