Sunday, December 7, 2008

bangkok 8

For the past 8 days we've been exploring the bustling streets of Bangkok. It's been nice to be parked in one location for a while, especially in a place with excellent public transportation and street food. I am happy to report that I have been reunited with melon Fanta, which I have not seen since my visit to Japan circa 1983, and I have been taking full advantage of the som tam and grilled meat stalls.

The original intent of the one week stay was to allow time to get a visa at the Myanmar embassy for our upcoming visit in January, but the rules have recently changed and visas are now valid for entry dates up 1 month in advance instead of 3. We will have to modify our itinerary to squeeze in a
few extra days in Bangkok, but otherwise it's only a minor inconvenience.

The markets here are incredible, sprawling on a scale I have never before experienced. In general goods are of a higher quality and greater variety than India, although there is still a lot of repetition between shops. Of note is the found object sculpture shop in the Jatujak weekend market where various gears, spark plugs, rods, nuts, and chains are MIG welded into mostly detailed Alien-themed designs.

Additionally, we checked out the Corrections Museum (unfortunately, photography is prohibited), which contained
a variety of exhibits on torture and execution from medieval times to today. The most unique method was a rattan ball, large enough only to accommodate a crouching man, that would be kicked around by an elephant. Today execution is carried out by lethal injection.

We also took the time to get suits and shirts tailored. The guy that runs the shop, Khavul, is
a second generation Bangkok Sikh, who was schooled in the Himalayan foothills of Uttar Pradesh. We went in 4 times for fittings to fine tune everything. He agreed to stash our stuff for another 2 months until our last stop in Bangkok.

This morning we left our red light district hotel for the 1950's style Atlanta Hotel, as recommended by Tricia. It has much more character than our former lodgings, although I miss the variety of street food vendors. After several weeks of chaos and uncertainty, it looks like things are on track for our flight tomorrow to Phnom Penh out of Suvarnabhumi.

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