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Meditations around the world My 8-month Trip to Southeast Asia.

Jan 5-9: Returning to Thailand... A Breath of Fresh Air

THAILAND | Saturday, 6 January 2007 | Views [1197]

January 5, 2007

We left that despairing country of Cambodia and returned to the comparatively thriving country of Thailand. Our trip through the border led us past an inbetween country of casinos and street venders.  Arriving in Thailand we directly took the wrong road (a skill I will continue to develop as time goes on...), finally a helpful man turned us around to the right direction.  We ended up on the edge of an enormous outdoor market -acres and acres of vendors and a haltingly limited supply of consumers.  I still am puzzled at two things.  First, where did these people get the money to buy all these clothes to sell, and second, how do they live when they sell maybe one item a day???  Hundreds of vendors all selling EXACTLY the same thing!  Anyway...we tried to get a tuk tuk for the 5 or so kilometer ride into town, but we thought the price they were asking was just on the southside of extortion, so we walked to canvas other drivers and in the process got completely lost in the labrynth of vender stalls. 

Finally, hours (at least it seemed) later we found a nice man with a vest and a scooter(moto-taxi) to give us a nearly pants-wetting ride (three adults, two backpacks, a full bookbag and large purse contanining large camera plus... on one small scooter...)to a motel for the night.  I have to admit that I really have a fear of motor bikes.  I have never ridden one and most everyone I know who does has either been in or is waiting to be in something of a serious accident!  I dont trust the drivers I ride behind and more importantly, I dont trust OTHER drivers who share the road.  I just closed my eyes and held back the tears of fear and the other liquids wanting to come out until about ten minutes later we reached our destination -fortunately not the dreaded FINAL destination I was worrying myself over.

Bags stashed, we played swat the mosquitoes for a while in the room with our electro-skeeter zapper and then went to reconnoiter the city.  As the sun set, we set out as well down the street, turned right at a sister hotel to our own lodging, and straight ahead till morning...or at least until we found a lovely street restaurant with a friendly smiling Thai woman. 

As we sat sharing a Singha beer on that Thai city sidewalk, we were struck by the glaring juxtaposition from our previous days experience back in Cambodia.  Here the streets seemed so CLEAN, the shops seemed so ORGANIZED, the people so RELAXED and FRIENDLY!!!  A calm-quiet was underlying the normal sounds of a retiring provincial city and we breathed a simultaneous sigh of relief to once again feel safe and sound in a country that has not recently murdered millions of its own inhabitants in a genocidal nightmare.  The sunset cast a warm golden-red hue over the city settling for its nighly repose and dinner was absolutely delicious.  We even went across the street to an ice-cream parlor for sundays and coffee for desert.

The next morning began our journey northward through what I thought was going to be a mountainous region of Thailand.  I could only have been more wrong had I thought it was the ocean (actually not really –turns out the whole area WAS the ocean a few million years ago...).  The entire eastern part of Thailand is about as flat as week-old glass of coke and as dry and uneventful as aging Presbyterian’s sermon on a rural Midwest hot summer’s day.

January 6-9, 2007: Buriram

We took a bus up to the city of Buriram.  An elephant and nightclub were the main experiences here.  We ended up walking down a dark alley in search of a nice dinner.  Don’t ask.  Groping through the dark alley to the light ahead we nearly jumped out of our skins when a loud trumpeting VRRRRRMMMMMMPPPHT came from right behind us.  A mahout (elephant trainer) had led his elephant right behind us and then on soft command had encouraged the elephant to make his loud and sharp toot (whats an elephant toot called?  -not to be confused with an elephants PA-toot...).  Well after soiling ourselves we laughed and agoged at the beast and bought a few bananas to feed the wrinkly old fellow. 

Later, at a restaurant, we met an Australian man and his local Thai wife and had a few laughs and conversations that led us to join them at the local nightclub.  To our wondrous surprise, this was a huge nightclub rivaling any in DC or NY (well, sort of... to a point...) and after the best bar table in the house was secured for us (the wife had family working in the bar –a lot of family working in the bar) we ordered snacks and drinks and, having barely seen a soul in the dark night of this agrarian city on a Monday night, the club was absolutely PACKED!  A bit later my surprise continued when the club stage opened up with a full live-music dance show.  I couldn’t have been much more surprised had Britney Spears walked on stage for a number. The show was most impressive and I will say that Thais look taller dressed in skimpy leather outfits on an elevated stage in a big warehouse club.  It was all quite enjoyable until the flamboyant ladyboy had his(her) segments of the show to sing(massacre).  This however was our hostess' favorite part and she waved a large bill high enough that the boy(girl) actually got off-stage and walked through the crowd (still singing) to give our hostess a kiss on the cheek (gross) and collect his desert.  Its amazing (hilarious) how the ladyboy thing is accepted here. We finished the night, ears ringing, earlier than our hosts.  



Tags: buriram, ladyboy, mahout, nightclub, singha, thai, thailand, travel, tuk tuk



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