on sunday i went for a hike
there is a trail straight up the mountain from my apt.
this is the view from my backyard
found some lanterns
lead to a buddhist temple
walked down the hill
took a bus to seomeyeon
needed more film
seomeyeon has many shops
400 speed film was a huge let down
then i met up with my friend greg and we went to oncheonjong
homeplus has fake food menus
we rode the sky tram to the top of the mountain
and i temporarily forgot i live in a huge city
Friday, August 7, 2009
We ended up staying up till who knows when laying in bed telling each other stories of our very different yet similar countries and reminiscing about times past. It was very easy and fun, not stained at all. We laughed a lot.
We got up the next day, a bit late and went to have breakfast in our very awesome hotel http://www.theatlantahotelbangkok.com/ where i had coffee and "western" style breakfast which I haven't had since i left the states.
First, we went to go see some temples around Bangkok. We walked a little ways to where we could get a taxi, and we passed one of many locals who was selling fresh, delicious, and precut tropical (to me) fruit that was insanely cheap and incredibly delicious. We got a taxi with a really nice driver who listened to really great 50's pop music, and it pretty much started the whole day off right.
The first temple we went to was called Wat Pho where there is a giant golden reclining Buddha.
Then we took a ferry across a very wild river upon which I sipped from a coconut freshly hacked open by a local fruit seller. The second temple was called Wat Arun, and it was similar to the first place except you could walk (or climb rather) up the side of this one. It was very steep, and very scary: however, very beautiful and fun. Thailand is heavily decorated. Everything is quite elaborate, especially the temples.
The smells in Thailand were one of my favorite parts. Each street would smell of a new spice or some kind of food that I have never smelled before. Walking around Thailand will make you very hungry. Also, there are people selling these yellow and white flowers everywhere that you are meant to buy and lay in front of a monk or a statue of Buddha, or even one of the many spirit houses. Spirit Houses are almost like elaborate bird houses that are found in front of most businesses and homes, and are meant to keep bad spirits away. The flowers are some of the best smelling flowers that I have ever smelled in my entire life.
So, the next thing we did was hop onto a tuk-tuk, which is pretty much a little trailer attached to a motorcycle. However, it is cleverly disguised by yet more elaborate decorations of many bright colors. I was quite scared on the tuk-tuk. I thought for sure I would just pop out and tumble down the streets of Bangkok, but we arrived to our next destination just fine.
I think after that we went to another open air shopping market, which was called the Lumphini Night Bazaar, and it was really nice. I wanted to buy everything. I eventually had to tell Davrie to stop me because I had lost control. I wanted to buy everyone I love something from there because everything seemed so cool to me and so cheap. However, I ran out of money. We went to diner, and I had my first taste of authentic Thai food, and it was incredible!
We had a beer and a Pina Colada, and got to giggling so hard I forgot my brand new fisheye camera that I hadn't even had for a week yet. However, I did manage to get the film out before I left it behind.
The next morning we got up super early to go on a tour to the Floating Market, which is exactly what it sounds like. A lot of people selling goods out of long wooden boats on a small river. We were on our own boat just cruising around checking everything out, taking lots of photos, and eating fried bananas. It was very fun.
After the floating market, my day got a little dreary. We went back to the restaurant where I had left my camera in hopes it would still be there, and we talked to a person on the phone who said he was the manager and he said he had the camera and for us to meet him at the restaurant at 3:00. Well long story short, we waited for over two hours, and he never showed up and we never got the camera. Then, I found out that my Korean debit card did not work in Thailand even though there were ATMs everywhere with the same logo as on my card. I had not planned on that happening, and had spent all of my cash shopping, so I went back with Davrie to the small town where she is from to figure everything out.
I did some research online to find out that in order to use my bank account internationally I would have had to go to the bank to get an international card. I also have to go to the bank to get a card in order to access my account online. I don't usually find myself feeling like America does things right, but this was a rare occasion. I really like that everything is all inclusive when you open a bank account in the states, and you can use a single card for everything. sheesh, i guess i am a bit spoiled, which of course caused me to be ill prepared in a foreign country.
I ended up hanging out in Davrie's terribly small and boring town for two and a half days, while I had my friend JoAnn lend me money and transfer it into my American account. Joann works in trading here in Korea, and so she is constantly working with transferring money to various accounts abroad. She is super great.
The countryside in Thailand is a very different experience than being in the touristy parts. Thailand's main industry is tourism, so as you can imagine everything is made for tourists in the areas where tourists go, and outside of those areas is where you actually get to see what Thailand is all about. It was a little depressing. Everything was dirty and rundown. Many large structures built in anticipation of a larger middle class left unfinished and decaying in the middle of a grassy field. In a way it reminded me of the countryside in a beach area in the south. Everything was very spread out, and no one walked anywhere, they all had cars or motorbikes. I had forgotten the intense intrigue I feel for abandonment of structures, having been away from Memphis for a while. The country of Thailand made my mood change completely. I wasn't able to take any photos of this part of Thailand which I found most intriguing because most of what I saw I saw from a bus window. However, I am planning to make some drawings and attempt to recreate the feeling.
Davrie's school is massive, bigger than Mauldin High School, and it seems to be the source of income for the town. There were only three restaurants where Davrie likes to go in her town, but they are ridiculously delicious.
She ended up lending me some money, so I could get out of town at which time I went to a touristy island called Koh Samet.
The travel to and from the island was long and involved many buses and a ferry. The island was beautiful and romantic, and made me really lonely. I met a girl from China on the ferry and we hung out a lot on the island. She was also a lone traveler. However, we didn't really hit it off.
The food and drinks were great on the island, very western which was nice, but strange. There were no Thai people hanging out there, only working. Majority of the people I saw were families from Germany and Russia. I hadn't seen blonde haired babies in a while, it was weird.
one of many stray dogs that decorated Thailand
that cheesy phrase dog days of summer kept repeating in my head the whole time i was in Thailand.
I walked the length of the island, took many photos, drank many fruity drinks, and wished my friends and family could have been with me. I wrote a poem (and I hate poetry) this should tell you of the mood I was in.
when i see my love again
we will be as two waves colliding
swirling and embracing
dancing and tumbling
until we rush back into the ocean
until we meet again and begin all over.
So, the island was a strange experience for me. Beautiful place, made for foreigners, myself one of them, but very confused about it. Needless to say, I was glad to go back to Bangkok to meet up with Davrie and her friend and coworker Colleen. We had a very delicious and expensive diner at an Italian restaurant. Then, we went back to the Lumphini Night Bazaar to kill some time before my flight (which didn't leave until 2:00 am). At the bazaar we got a fish foot massage, which is when you stick your feet into an aquarium and let these little sucker fish eat the dead skin off of your feet. Craziest thing I have ever done. It tickled me so intensely I could barely keep still. I was having to coach myself through it, saying things like, "Ashley you wanted this, you paid money for this, it is ok, the little fish just want to kiss you." At which point i would squeal and kick my feet. I laughed so hard I got a cramp in my side. We created a decent crowd from our squealing and giggling. It reminded me of when I was a little girl, and my mother would try to cut my toenails, and I couldn't stand it to the point that I would kick her and run away.