Dateline: Bangkok

What a difference a plane makes!

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I left France after 6 excellent weeks. It was summer when I arrived and heading towards winter when I left. When I got off the plane on Friday morning, my friend remarked that I must have brought winter with me, because it was a lovely 80F and not a cloud. Apparently this was in marked contrast the day before when it was hot and muggy.

And luckily for me, this Decemberish weather persisted. Walking out of the apartment building in the morning, it was that lovely non-temperature: the fleeting second when it is neither hot nor cold, but seemingly exactly skin temperature. It lasts but a moment and mostly harkens to a warm day. But after a chilly France and years in San Francisco, where we get 2 balmy nights a year, it’s a nice change of pace.

Bangkok is a huge city, sprawling and flat, it is more a working city rather than a tourist city. It doesn’t have a ‘downtown’ per se, but just spread out, with districts like Chinatown, or the backpacker’s area, etc.
It’s not macro-picturesque like Rome or Paris, but there are lovely things in the details. Lots of color, flowers and golden temples. And there are many gruesome food markets, my favorite travel places. Pigs being flayed by the dozens and stomachs, hearts and lungs, all available for the frying. But when in an exotic place, so much food but nothing to eat. I was going to get some chicken satay on the street (30 cents. mmm) until on closer inspection, they were actually little grilled hearts on a stick. Pass.

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Like the Indians, the Thai people are generally smiling and welcoming, calling out to say hi and have their photo taken. There are few touts and the tuk drivers only ask once. And taxis are cheap enough that you needn’t bother with the tuks.
My friend lives near an elevated train stop, which makes it easy to get around town, or down to the river. And even better, it makes it easy to get home.

I spent a lazy week getting over jet lag and walking around town. It’s nice to have the luxury ofa place to stay, a friendly face and nowhere to be. And it is REALLY nice to have someone that knows the ropes!

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But for all the cheap food and temples galore, it’s not an inspiring city. It’s a bustling, working city and it makes no pretense of being anything different. It has its fancy malls and high end shops as well as it’s degraded infrastructure and abandoned buildings. Which city doesn’t. I didn’t find it overly photogenic and looked forward to the opportunity to get out into the country and see some green.

It finally feels like and adventure now. UK and France are pretty easy, travel-wise. Now things are decidedly different.

Highlights of the week:

  1. Big kudos for Stacy for doing the right thing and saving 3 tiny kittens on the street.
  2. I gave blood for a sick little girl.
  3. Saw an AMAZING Beatles cover band at an Irish pub in Bangkok. They were unbelievable. Hitting all the notes and fills, looked great and knew every song. Who covers A Day in A Life?!!

And now, a sleepy 3.5 hour bus ride down the coast, I type from a sleepy cafe next to the beach.

I am spending 10 days or so on the coast near Chanthamburi, helping at a resort/spa place a short walk from the beach. Butterflies and birds abound, tropical and lush and very quiet.

And I made a new theory after I had been here 4 minutes. Let’s say that the size of the spider represents the complex. And the size of the web represents the irrational fear. Well, the one across from my little bungalow has given me huge complex wrapped in a super-size irrational fear. The thing is a monster in this horror movie web. And it’s the tropical type: long spindly legs and a long thin body that stands high off the web. Ugh. Now I can’t walk anywhere without looking around for them on every plant, waiting to pounce.

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So the sun has fallen and the orchestra of the forest has begun, with the crickets as the drones and birds of the strangest song chiming in. 4 hours in and my legs are once again mosquito bitten to distraction. Bitch and moan. To be sure, it will be a nice week or two here in Chanthamburi.

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