Friday October 13
Bangkok: You go to a high-end riverfront shopping area and see customers pay to dangle their legs in a tank of little flesh-eating fish. You walk the city streets day and night and see hundreds on vendors sweating over charcoal fires in 90 degree heat, grilling meat on sticks or cobs of corn. You see sad specimens of humanity on display for your spare Baht. Everywhere there’s color, smell, excitement, and people who press their hands together at their chins to say welcome and thank you for being here.
These guys are mustering up the courage to submerge their legs in a tub filled with little fish who attach themselves to you and eat your dead skin. (Asiatique at the riverfront)
After breakfast in our special 24th floor club lounge (where the lovely Thai attendants remember you and your daily plans), we met Andy and set out by metro for the giant Chatuchak Weekend Market in the north of Bangkok, which attracts 250,000 visitors each weekend. (Kampharng Phet MRT metro.) There was a labyrinth of booths – shops, restaurants, open- air places to have your feet and legs massaged, and “side shows” galore, including ladies demonstrating stapler-sized sewing machines, and a puppy aisle where tiny puppies await homes in tiny apartments.
Yeah! John had a day off!
Shopping. John decided that although my two rotating tops were fine with him, they were making for some redundant trip photos, so I bought four new tops for an average price of $5 each. Also replaced my old back pack with a new one and bartered from 4,000 Baht to 1200. Then the real find: little girl sun dresses from a lady who made them herself from Japanese fabrics! I went crazy. Six dresses, six purses. Average price per item, $3. Look out for some gorgeous Roy girls!
In circumstances as haphazard as our purchases, we invited a lady who had volunteered to take our picture to join us for a beer. She’s Susan Jones from New York. She owns a power scooter company, and has lived in Asia for years. We talked about Asian countries and their distinct personality types (stereotypes). Susan’s observations: Singapore is so perfect that it’s boring. The Thais, she claims, are warm, respectful, and subservient. She thinks they may actually feel inferior. The Japanese can seem cold, almost robotic, but it’s really a reflection of their structured society. According to Susan, they suffer no sense of inferiority!
After a rest at the hotel, we headed off with Andy and his Thai friend Oem for the Asiatique shopping center at the riverfront, located south of the Royal Palace area. We cabbed there but took the river ferry and the Sky Train back. (The Sky Train is their metro: it’s so much nicer than Paris or New York. Cool air, smooth ride, and open views of the city.)
The Asiatique shopping area continued the circus for the day. We passed a Turkish ice cream stand where your ice cream comes with a juggling act, and our dinner at the phenomenal Thai restaurant which Andy picked out for us actually came with a three-man Thai puppet show! No wonder everyone loves Thailand.