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Some Like it Hot

THAILAND | Thursday, 16 December 2010 | Views [554] | Comments [2]

Well it is official, we are done with India and on to our new region: South East Asia.  How do we know it is official?  Because while in Bangkok we sold our Lonely Plant book on India and bought a new one for Vietnam (Victoria's mom in bringing books for Laos and Cambodia).  To welcome our new humid and hot climate, we broke out the sandals and shorts (in India we wore shoes and pants because it was so dirty) and set off to see Bangkok.

Compared to India, Bangkok is so clean you could eat off the sidewalks and the sound of no car horns was almost eerie for us.  Walking around the city was incredibly pleasant as there were actual sidewalks and the smell of street-side food stalls was mouth-watering.  All over were large pictures and paintings of the current King of Thailand, most were over 20 feet tall and written somewhere was "long live the king."  Travis's immediate thought was how long it must take to get rid of all of them when a new king or ruler comes into power. 

Anyway, we were staying in the heart of the backpacking scene in Bangkok on Khoasan Road.  Warning to all parents or potential parents out there: if your 18 year old kid wants to "just go hang out in Thailand for a while" they will most likely end up staying in this area and probably end up doing something regrettable.  The area is just a few blocks long but is jammed-packed with tourists; all we could think of was this place was like Amsterdam meets Cancun.  Bar after bar was serving tropical drinks, street stalls full of cheap tank-tops with beer labels on them, Thai massages for $3, tattoo parlor one after another, and even little stands where you could buy fake ID's.  On top of that, we saw many "couples" consisting of an older white male with a young attractive Thai girl having an awkward dinner.  Oh and I guess we should mention the STD clinic just down the road from us.  Every temptation that could exist can be found on this road, so think twice before sending little Johnny with your credit card to "chill for a bit in Bangkok."  For us, being in that scene was like Las Vegas: fun for 3 days of people watching, but not much need to stay longer.

On our 2nd full day in Bangkok we had arranged to do a cooking class at a school Victoria and her family had been to before.  They picked us up and brought us to a wonderful place on the edge of the city where they had just finished a new building with a large open kitchen with orchids growing like weeds.  The class lasted for about 3 hours where we first watched a dish being made and then went to our own stations to make it and then eat it.  We made a snack on rice crackers with a super good Thai topping, a pomelo salad with shrimp, massaman curry with chicken, and a dish with deep-fried basil leaves and chicken.  Anybody drooling yet? 

After having a slight food-baby in our stomachs from our cooking class we headed to the heart of the shopping scene at a complex with several large malls.  In each mall American Christmas music was playing and many had decorated trees, making us feel right back at home for the holidays but without the crowds and the pressure to actually buy things.  One mall impressed us more than we could expect as it had an aquarium with hammerhead sharks on the bottom floor, a department store that took up 5 floors including a full floor of food.  This place was like the Thai version of the Whole Foods in Austin with little restaurants inside, gourmet food, and the real perk was that tourists didn't have to pay tax!  The real winner however was seeing an ice-skating rink inside the mall full of Thai people who had never been in ice skates before and all had a death-grip on the side railing.  To add insult to injury, there was a video camera pointed on the rink that showed all the struggling folks on a jumbo tron, if only they could take their eyes off the ice to look up and see themselves!

Yesterday we bid adieu to Bangkok and started making our way to Vientiane, the capital of Laos.  In the name of saving a buck or two, instead of taking the easy international flight (expensive) straight to Vientiane, we flew to a town called Udon Thani in Thailand near the Laos border. From there we embarked on quite a series of stops taking over 7 hours though the distance was quite small.  From the airport in Udon Thani, we took a taxi to a bus station where we waited 2hrs.  The bus finally took us to a stop near the boarder where we bargained for a tuk-tuk (small taxi on 3 wheels) that took us to the Thai side of the Mekong river where we passed through Thai customs.  We then took a government bus across the bridge to the Lao side (having to switch and drive on the other side of the road) where we had to get a visa and go through immigrations.  Now it was off to our hotel which we did by first taking another bus to the city center and another tuk-tuk to our hotel.  Oh, and did we mention it was like 90 degrees with 100% humidity and these buses were NOT air conditioned.  As an old country band used to say "there is the easy way, and there is the cowboy way..." We took the cowboy way this time and had fun doing it, seriously.

We are in Vientiane for just a few days but find it charming because if feels small and there are like a million French Bakeries everywhere.  We are also taking advantage of the fruit stands that are abundant where they will make you a fruit shake that has just fresh mango and ice for 80 cents.  You would be surprised at how hard it is to limit yourself to just one per day!  The other highlight to mention is the lunch Victoria had the other day when she forgot to order the noodles with mild spice.  She was able to finish it like a true champion but tears were coming down her face, the whole napkin container was used up, and she was begging for a beer to cool her mouth down.  We lost count of all the red chilies after about 100.

Tomorrow we hopefully connect with Victoria's family (mom, dad, and brother) who will be with us over Christmas.

T&V

 

Comments

1

I LOVE your posts and photos! I'm having so much fun following along on your journey. Can't wait to hear all about the SE Asia bit. Have a Merry Christmas!

  Laura Payette Dec 23, 2010 4:49 PM

2

how long did she have the hiccups after her noodles?

  taryn Jan 7, 2011 10:42 AM

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