Sunday, December 25, 2005

Tuk Tuk-tastic

After a quick breakfast of muesli and yogurt provided free at our guest house, we set off on our way for the Chatuchak weekend market. Having been warned about the rip-off tendencies of taxi cab drivers we insisted, hard, to drive by the meter and the twenty five minute ride cost us about three dollars. Pretty steep.

The market itself was sprawling, with sections dedicated to all kinds of things. I don't even know which sections we happened upon, as we walked through stalls and alleyways without worrying about getting lost. We already were, technically, lost. The markets here are very different from those in Korea because in Korea everything is the same. Same same. Same shoes, tshirts, knockoff clothing, food. They use the same spice in everything. Everyone dresses the same way. In Thailand there is style and hipness. This market had many private label stores selling one of a kind designs. The most incredible part of it was that everything was dirt cheap. No article of clothing that I saw was over 200 baht (about five dollars US). Most tshirts were between 100 and 150. I couldn't believe it.

There were so many things I would have loved to buy but there was no way I could see and buy it all, because of time not money. I did buy a small print of an elephant and Thai person and two beautiful Thai silk pillow cases. The print was four dollars and the two pillow cases were five all together. Tell me about crazy.

We stopped for lunch at a packed little restaurant and ordered blindly off the menu, ending up with some great food - a lime flavoured salad, a chicken with some great sauces, a pork dish of some kind, and another salad with peanuts and other things. I don't ask questions, I just eat. The tables were wooden and wobbly and the plates were mismatched and chipped. I loved it.

We left the market and returned to the room for a bit before heading out on foot towards the grand palace, one of the most popular temples in the city. Along the way some tuk tuk driver stopped us. (Note: tuk tuk's are essentially golf carts on the road, speeding along, open to the air, and the traffic.) We had heard to seriously AVOID these because the drivers will tell you all of kinds of lies to get you to go with them. Well, a driver told us all kinds of lies to get us to go with him but his alternate plan sounded pretty good - a bunch of stops and we'd owe him only five baht a piece - essentially nothing. Less than twenty cents, I don't even know. So we hopped into the tuk tuk and sped off around the city. It was seriously like being on a roller coaster in real life - I loved it! The breeze, the risk, the Thai traffic. We stopped at a few temples and things, one where a man asked how we ended up there because it's not one many tourists visit. We also were taken to a silk store and a tourist office where we didn't really want to be but managed just fine. At the end of the ride we were dropped off at the Siam river and paid eight bucks each for an hour long private river cruise. I'm not sure exactly how this tuk tuk driver earned his money's worth, but I guess we were ripped off on the river boat ride. Who cares, it cost nothing to us anyway! And it was so amazing to see the houses on stilts right along the canal, and families going about their regular activities. It was really great.

We were going to head to Thai boxing but got caught up in a tattoo parlour and missed the chance. There's always tomorrow. I ate some tasty, albeit greasy, pad thai for dinner with a coconut shake on the side, and then treated myself to mango sticky rice from the street. The mango was soft and sweet - much better than any I've had at home. Sara and Barbara ate a cricket but I... was full.

So how do I like Bangkok? I'm really enjoying it so far. The people are warm and friendly, and not at all pushy like in other places I've visited, even in the markets. They don't bother you to come into their shop or anything! I like the eclectic feel of the foreign population because I hear languages and accents all over the place; not at all like the selection of either Korean or Canadian that we've got back in Korea. It's particularly exciting for me to hear Hebrew all over the place here. Shalom, chaver! The city itself is sprawling with no evident central area, and it's kind of difficult for me to get a bearing on where I am, but it's lush and vibrant, and I like that. There are pictures all over the place of the king who is very much revered. Pretty incredible.

I got this mammoth zit right in the middle of my forehead. It's so beautiful...

Now we're taking it easy and might go out dancing in a little while. We shall see, we shall see.


At December 26, 2005 9:15 a.m. , Blogger Randi said...

Your Thailand adventures seem amazing thus far, can't wait to hear more! I hope your grandmother is ok, I'm sending my thoughts :) Tonight I'm meeting Yael at her hotel up in North Tel Aviv...apparently birthright kiddies can't leave their hotel to go out at night, it sucks! Ah well, I'll just have to navigate the bus system to make it up to her...Hope you're enjoying the warmth in Thailand, it's been rainy and cold here (meaning 10-15 degrees) for the past week, blah. I'll speak to you soon my tall tall friend!

At December 26, 2005 6:00 p.m. , Anonymous Katie said...

Hi Jess! Sounds wonderful- you should go to the BKK (think this is the name of the mall) in Bangkok- if you want excellent knock off purses...they have everything!

And go to the Asia Hotel for the Lady Boys Show- unforgetable and hilarious! It's $20 so expensive for Thailand but well worth it.

At December 26, 2005 9:56 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jess, sounds like you're having a pretty sweet time out there. You really do love them markets. I'm here in Cambodia right now, trying to figur out the best way to see the cool shit. Siem Reap is an odd place. It's pretty sad seeing so many people so poor.

It's strange...dirty kids or cripples coming up to you begging for money or kids that are no older than ten or eleven trying to sell you a bunch of stuff because they have to sell you stuff. Ya have to give the thousand yard stare to keep peepz away, but then feel sad about that....depressing.

It's also odd coming from ultra modern Bangkok to backwards and barely up to date Cambodia. I realized yesterday that on saturday i was in Korea, on sunday i was in Thailand and monday brought me to Cambodia...weird.

Oh well...enough with the sadness. The food is amazing and i'm about to see some of the world's greatest ruins. TTYL and keep on keeping on sistah!


At December 26, 2005 10:35 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way: Happy Hannuka! May you find some spinning tops to play withand good things to eat! Well i'm sure you'll find some good things to eat at any rate.

Oh...and if any of the girls are topless, take a picture for me;) Allright, I'm kidding! HAve fun.


At December 27, 2005 4:41 p.m. , Blogger Jessica said...

Hey Rand, thanks for the message my mini friend. How was Yael's visit? Bubby's alright, thanks for asking. :)

Hey Katie. I missed the lady boys and I hate knock off purses with a strong, boiling passion!!! :) But I appreciate the advice. What about the islands? Where do I go?

Hey Dan, hope your travels are still going well. Despite the poverty. I saw some boobies last night but they might very well have been a man's.


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