Friday, April 4, 2014

Buddha in the sky with diamonds

April 3rd 2014 – 8:30 p.m.

I suppose the Thailand part of the date and place is redundant, because everyone knows Bangkok is in Thailand. This is going to be either very boring of very short. Hopefully one and not the other.

I slept in until the alarm went off. A surprise for a change. There wasn't time for breakfast. At least that is the way it looked until I got to the airport and had more time than I expected. Then the hurry to get to the airport turned into waiting for the plane.

The plane came I got a middle seat, the aisle lady moved so I had an aisle seat. The woman in the window was in the aisle lady's seat. Of course she was the high maintainance passenger. Needed help with the Immigration forms, had to go potty twice on an hour and fifteen minute flight. She must have had a bladder the size of a peanut.

The hotel is the same one as I stayed at last year. It's rooms are smaller that the suite I had at the Raddisson, but it has a nice restaurant overlooking a lush green pool. I move back to the Raddisson tomorrow.

After dropping my bags exchanging some mony and getting cooled off under the A/C I waited until clse to three to face the heat of the day. I caught the skytrain down to the river and got on the ferry until it came to the stop that the woman at the hotel said was Chinatown and a must see. Her one word of advice was “Don't buy anything there”. I am not sure if I found it or not. All I found was a major street lined with gem shops and a few antique shops. Everything looked closed up and nothing looked quaint as I had expected.

I found an information booth and with her help back to the ferry where I continued upstream to see the reclining Buddha that I missed last time. They closed at three thirty. Every tuk-tuk driver in Bangkok was willing to take me around to see a plethora of other sights. One was a reasonable amount and then the I don't know what kind of scam came the drivers who were willing to drive me all over town for thirty cents and then down to fifteen cents. I am kind of assuming it had something to do with a gift shop involved in the picture some where along the trail. Something was fishy there. Maybe I should have gone just to see.

There is a huge park across the street from the palace and it looked like Bellingham bay with all the kites being flown this eve. Then back to the ferry and the skytrain and presto chango back at the hotel. I thought I'd take a beer and perhaps dinner on the deck overlooking the pool, except the was some sort of corporate function going on. So Just had the beer and opted to walk down (or up) the lane and have dinner at a names “Cabbages and Condoms”. They have something to do about unwanted babies The place is jammed with people. The food is good, but I think the name is more of a draw that the food.

So I am about 'peopled' out. Think I'll close and get the check.

April 4th 2014 – The next day

I am really confused now.

After a good night's sleep and breakfast at the Ramada I packed up and moved almost across the street to the Radisson. I moved from Soi 12 to Soi 13. I rolled my luggage up the Soi to the main road. All the even Soi's are on one side of a six lane (probably on two lanes each way but the lines don't matter here) divided main road. The only real way I can figure out how to cross is by going to a pedestrian overpass and I think I remember seeing one of them a couple Soi's away. I hope to find a passing tuk-tk and have him take me up the road, do a U-turn and over to 13. Instead I find a taxi cab. He knows he has me and his price is way over what it would be metered, but honestly in the real world it wasn't that much.

The hotel is located and I start pulling my two bags out of the nack seat of the cab and one of the desk clerks comes out and says “Welcome back”. He ushers me into the hotel. I give him my passport and credit card. He says he wants to upgrade me to a suite, but the room isn't available yet. Would I like some breakfast ? I am not a Hobbit, so second breakfasts are generally out of my reach. I opted for some coffee instead.

The room really is large. I have a couch, a full desk and a kitchen table with sink and ¾ size refrigerator in one room and the other room has huge bed and dressing area along with the necessities. I would guess it is 900 square feet in total. Later in the day I was chilling in the room and the doorbell rang. A woman was there with a small plate of fresh fruit and a note personalized to me by the manager welcoming me back.

When I made the reservation before leaving for Myanmar I made it for the basic room and the woman taking the reservation reminded me that I wasn't getting a deluxe room. I just don't understand this special treatment. I am not complaining at all, just a bit dazed and confused.

Yesterday I went down to the King's palace and he was closed for the day. So today I went down to see him earlier in the day. I took the usual trail. Skytrain and ferry boat. I get off the ferry boat and the first person who greets me is a hustler who tells me the pagoda I want to see is closed to foreigners until two thirty and so perhaps I should spend the intervening two hours on a tour in one of his tuk-tuks for a cool thirty bucks. I think I'll pass on that deal for, say …. the rest of my life.

The next driver I talk to is an actual driver sitting in a tuk-tuk and pestering people on the sidewalk. He pulls out the universal map showing all the wonderful places he would take me, including the obligatory shopping center. I start to walk away and he immedietly undercuts his pal by fifty percent. It is still too much for a tuk-tuk, but let's see where this goes. Ok, I want to see this and this and this but NO SHOPPING. Oh, no. You see this and this and shop here and see this. You are not listening- NO SHOPPING. – this is the point where he tuns his back on me, the universal go fly a kite gesture. So it appears these guys are shopping hustlers with a tuk-uk. Not tuk-tuk drivers who take you to the shopping.

The heat has really begun to build, I am about through my first half gallon of water and I enter the King's palace only to be told by the guard at the door that I do not have sleeves on my top. I kind of thought that was obvious. Then he informs me that I needed to cover my biceps to gain entrance. He points to an area where a line of similarly dressed westerners, some in shorts are waiting. I turn around and point at the gate I had just entered. He shakes his head and tell me – No go there they give you top. I've worn those sorts of things in the past. Kind of like a light polyester bathrobe that does not breathe. No thank you. Seeing a King's house or another Buddha. It is just another variation of a theme. I have some longer sleeved shirts in my luggage, I'll put them on tomorrow in the morning and come back first thing, before the heat cranks up. I turn to the guard and say – No it's too hot, I'll see you tomorrow. – and he sarcastically says with a big grin “Ya, it will be much cooler tomorrow.”. I had to laugh.

April 5th 2014 – 1 p.m.

My last day in Bangkok. Tomorrow morning at six thirty in the morning my plane is supposed to depart for the U.S.A. via Tokyo and get there three hours after it takes off. I think there is a flaw in that logic someplace.

They say that the third time is the charm, for me and the reclining Buddha it was the fourth time. I got up early did breakfast, caught the skytrain an the ferry boat before it got too hot. Since Buddha here requires shoulders to be covered I wore a long sleeved shirt and got to see Buddha laying down. The is a pretty big guy. His feet are six feet wide for pity sakes. It wasn't any cooler today than yesterday, in spite of what the guard said. In face the weather report calls for thunder showers and the air is really extra humid. Not very many tourists at reclining Buddha this morning. I had heard it is generally crazy wacko in the afternoon with the tour buses. This morning it was just we tourists not with a tour. So I finally got to see reclining Buddha. Was it worth it? Sure. Was it worth going four times and succeeding once, probably.

So this should be it. See ya in the U.S.A.


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