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Archive for November, 2006

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Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace – Back to Bangkok

Monday, November 27th, 2006

Ruth and Sam, two friends from home had been planning to meet me for some weeks. I found them, as expected, in a bar nearby the hotel we arranged to stay at.

It was great to see them and yet i felt a short pang of homesickness for the first time in months. No doubt because of the strange juxtaposition of home and abroad, sedentry and nomadic, remote and immediate of my friends displaced from one context to the other. They brought into focus how far from home i was. But this was no bad thing, it reinvigorated my appreciation of this year.

So that night we went out to celebrate along the many bars on the Khao San. All i remember is dancing in some strange club with lots of young, trendy thai’s. The next day was rather more sedate. Poor Sam and Ruth were hungover the next day and had to press things to their eyeballs to see what they were looking at. Both turned a shade of green when i ordered fried rice for breakfast – i had not realised just how alien my diet has become to a western palate or norms.

We spent the next few days frequenting the ESSO garage bar, shopping along the Khao San and catching up on the past six months in each others lives.

Now, a business studies question. Imagine yourself a highly-driven, networking, downsizing, brainstorming entrepeneur looking to set up a stall offering facials. Where would you position it? Remember people, it’s location, location, location! In a park perhaps, with green grass and trees, and some modicum of fresh air? Or in an airconditioned spa with luxury products lining the walls and silk separaters dividing the rooms? Or in a modern, clean shopping centre such as MBK (Bangkok’s answer to Bluewater)?

No, no and no! Position it in an open tent on the forecourt of a petrol station and the pavement of a main road choked with traffic, fumes and pollution.

And yet we still found ourselves lying on a bed while various products and fruit essences were applied to the face, cucumber placed over our eyes and a steamer breathed out rejuvenating vapours onto our skin. Immediately afterwards we stepped onto the busy road and were caked in dirt, smoke and motor exhaust. It felt great for that split second though.

Other than pampering, the odd tipple and recovering in bed, finally, after two previous trips to the city I had the opportunity to visit some of Bangkok’s cultural offerings.

No trip to the city is complete without a stop at Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, both architectural and historic treasures and one of the greatest spectacles on offer in Bangkok to an avid sightseers such as myself.

Ripped jeans are not suitable attire according to the authorities who tapped me on the shoulder and led me to a side room. In fairness this is the most sacred and important temple in Thailand – but my other jeans are even worse. Luckily they fitted me with a delightful pair of shiny blue MC-hammer pants.

For all those over 30 years old, a picture of the inestimably important MC Hammer….

The temptation to break out into a wild performance of the “running man” dance was acute but previous experience with this dangerous, complex move and memories of shattered bones and wearing a large Darth Vader support boot to Trinity College May Ball (the biggest event in the Cambridge calendar!) stilled my trembling legs. Once burnt, twice shy!

The rest of this post can be found here.

A sigh in Chiang Mai

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Originally i had planned to beetle on back to Bangkok to meet Sam and Ruth who were flying out from blighty to meet me. I had a few days to spare however and Leila and Alice were heading up north to a city called Chiang Mai. Plus the Israeli’s we had met were known to be in the vicinity. It all seemed a more promising venture than moping around the Khao San road for a third time by myself.

The travelling trio left the national park the way we entered, in the back of a pick-up truck. Despite the best efforts of the driver we reached the bus station just in time to see our next form of transport veer round a corner into the distance. After some peddle-to-the-metal we caught up, flagged down the bus and jumped on hoping we could now relax and catch up on some much needed sleep. I don’t know about other people but i can sometimes find it difficult to sleep with drops of water splashing on ones head every 2 or 3 seconds. Equally a wet seat does not suggest to me an adequate surface to snuggle down upon. Alice is a little less demanding than me and promptly fell asleep – it would also appear she swallowed some bullfrogs during the night which refused to be quiet once her eyes closed.

For the rest of this post please go here.

Amelia Gudgion – a friend i need!

Friday, November 24th, 2006
A big happy birthday to Amelia Gudgion, gorgeous, funny, witty, charming, intelligent (we were at uni together don't you know) and fashionable. I've written a poem especially for you: Candle burning bright and clear, Andrew picks it up and peers, Puts it to his ... [Continue reading this entry]

Pho Hin Rang Kla – Diazepam and Danger

Sunday, November 19th, 2006
Leafing through the registration book for entry into Pho Hin Rang Kla national park in north-eastern Thailand Leila, Alive and I were struck by the lack of visitors who used the Latin alphabet; not one, as far back as we ... [Continue reading this entry]

Phitsanulok photos

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006
My limousine to the hotel... tuk1.jpg Layla and Alice - always smiling, though this was unsurprisingly not their expression when offended by insensitive thai women! See post on my Thai nickname. layla1.jpg Cute kid ... [Continue reading this entry]

My thai nickname…

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006
What do you think my Thai nickname would be? No, not Ting Tong! I found out in Phitsanulok when Layla, Alice and I were invited over to a young Thai couples table. Such hospitable people in the north and central ... [Continue reading this entry]

Charades and chums in Phitsanulok

Monday, November 13th, 2006
"Enough of traveller VIP buses" thought to myself as i boarded the local bus to Phitsanulok. As such the one hour journey was filled with numerous erratic swerves onto the side of the road to pick up passengers. Who needs ... [Continue reading this entry]

Same same – but different! Sukhothai and Ayutthaya

Thursday, November 9th, 2006
From one temple-studded city in Thailand to the next - Sukhothai. This time via VIP bus. Sukhothai is a small, provincial town of 30,000 where tourism has not forced daily life into the backseat. The market, for example, still served ... [Continue reading this entry]