June 28, 1999
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Hey everyone --- greetings from Thailand!
I spent my first day here running around the monuments and touristy
places here in Bangkok, its hotter than crap here -- but it was amazing. I thought that I would have a lot of trouble
getting around here and communicating, but some people speak English, and all of them want to be your private tour
guide. I actually hired one for a day (500 Bot, or about 10 bucks) -- people here are super friendly and service
related this are sinfully cheap! (and it can be sinful :) ).
I hope everyone can view this webpage, I know its not fancy, but its
very difficult to get Internet access here in Thailand, and to email each
one of you this picture would take a long time.
First a look at the sweet digs... this is one of the areas of my rooms/suite...
100 bucks a night for this mansion which
overlooks Chinatown. I am on the 49th floor up with a great view of Bangkok. Up on the 53rd floor, there is a
patio/deck which has a spa for massages, 3 pools, 2 Jacuzzis. It spans about 4 stories, then there is a 58-62nd
floor... pretty cool architecture.
These two demons behind me are located right next to the Buddha's Chedi (or Shrine, oh and the Buddha is a big fat
guy who kinda looks like Jim Forrester). These demons are supposed to scare off the evil demons out of the shrine
It was a hot one today -- about 95'F with 95% humidity -- very
warm-- and you are not allowed to wear shorts or
sandals in these temples!
This is the side section of the Royal Prasat in the Grand Palace Courtyard.
The building itself is shaped like a greek
cross. The inside of this building is where Buddhist "mass" is held.
Ok, you now see a dumb tourist -- but you should have seen the guy before
me, he was walking around like a
monkey making noises before the army guard took him away and shot him. Anyway, they let me go.
The demons and monkeys are positioned outside the burial building
to scare away evil spirits. Inside the building lay
the ashes of a previous royal family member. The Buddhists are big into cremation, and families often keep the ashes
of deceased family in golden urns inside their homes.
Notice the demons are wearing shoes and the monkeys are not. The
Buddhists believe in re-incarnation, with bugs,
animals and plants on the bottom of the chain, then humans, then the divine Buddha. And according to my guide --
monkeys don't wear shoes.
This palace is occupied by visiting heads of state when they come to
see the king. President Clinton (sorry Dad)
stayed here when he visited Thailand in 1998; it overlooks all the gardens and buildings. A secret door was installed
for the U.S. president so he could sneak out to go to Patpong (the red-light district of Bangkok, where, I can say, all
those stories you heard about Bangkok are true!)
This poor guy has to stay out and guard the empty palace in the heat.
Just like at the Tower of London.. these guys
are hard-core and don't look at you, or move when you pinch their asses. And by the way, I asked, and those
machine rifles are loaded.
If it weren't hot and smoggy enough already, these folks are lighting
fires and incense. You are not supposed to take
pictures, but everyone was... we had to take off our shoes to enter. This was in another Temple down the street
from the Grand Palace, called Wat Po. Wat does not translate directly into English, because unlike our churches,
Wats describe multiple buildings dedicated to the veneration -- not worship -- of the Buddha (right outta tour book :)
Wats serve as religious temples, meeting halls, hospitals, concert halls, elderly/poor homes, and drug-rehabiliation
centers. (Some of you on this distribution list may want to check into this you can call the TAT [Tourist Authority of
Thailand] @ 011-66-282-2028. I hear its cheaper than re-hab.
Wat Po also houses the massage school of wat po, where you can get a
1 hour massage for 200 Bot ($5 US).
This was one of my favorite monuments. This big guy is covered
in 14kt gold, measures in at 151 ft. He has 10' feet
with an inlaid mother-of-pearl. His feet kinda smelled though. There are different poses the Buddha is portrayed in:
several sitting poses (lotus position) which signify things like the victory of the Buddha over demons, a meditation
position (yoga), standing (dispelling fear), and reclined (pictured above). The reclining Buddha embodies the Buddha
at the exact moment of Nirvana (paradise), he is not sleeping.
Here is my tourguide. After he took me to the monuments for 200
Bot ($5 USD), he offered to show me around all
day. After he took through the Grand Palace, I thought my time with Mr. Don was ended -- when Mr. Don offered
to show me around to other places... before I agreed, Mr. Don was ushering me to meet another guy who Mr. Don
claimed a friend. So his "friend" pulls up with a car and he wanted me to get in. I was a little nervous to get in a car
with these two, but the prospect of sitting in air-conditioned car outweighed my wariness. He said he would take me
to a good Thai lunch. I agreed -- but before we ate, he took me to his "friends" tailor shop. I went in, and they tried
to sell me some clothes. At first I declined, but after I got looking at the prices, I ended up buying 3 tailor made silk
shirts for 4000 Bot ($100 USD). They are going to sew them today and deliver them to my hotel tomorrow (I
hope). Man, that's service.
Anyway, I bought Mr. Don lunch, 120 Bot (3 dollars) for yummy Thai noodles
with Shrimp and beers!
Here I am in a Samplar (literally Sam= three plar=wheel), a three wheeled
taxi. Its a cheaper alternative to the
metered-taxis. Its maneuverability gives it advantages over regular taxis. Its known on the street as a Tuk-Tuk
after the sound it makes. We narrowly avoided several accidents. There doesn't seem to be a lot of rules to driving
here. Sitting in traffic, motorbikes whiz past through 3 foot gaps in traffic. It reminded me of that scene in Star Wars
Empire Strikes Back, when dozens of Tie Fighters go flying past Luke's X-Wing (ok, I am a dork loser, I know).
After we got out of the tuk-tuk and wiped the diesel and dirt off our
face, Mr. Don rented my my own private
speedboat to take me through the canals. Bangkok was once like Venice-- a network of Canals provides transport
to all areas of the city. Supposedly, a lot of them were paved over, but there are parts of the city that do not have
streets on them-- the only way you could access them is by boat.
As we pulled away from the dock, I was enjoying the crystal clear water
of the canals. Here you can see three
speedboats tied up to the dock. These look just like the one I was in. They are about 30 yards long, and can seat
around 20 people. King Kyle of course had one to himself. When locals saw me they laughed, I guess it looked
silly seeing a boat usually carrying 20-30 people with just one white-guy sitting in the middle by himself. :)
This was a typical house I saw on the canal. Some of these boats/barges
are pretty big, I was wondering what the
hell they had in there -- probably the VC.
Speaking of which.... naw, just kidding, these kids were just fishing
(or so it looked). The Thai kids are really nice..
they stare at you a lot, but many times on my way down the canal, they would smile and wave. A very welcoming
Some doggies on the canal.
Some of the huge barges on the canal... I was wondering what was in
here.. when they went by I looked to see what
was in them but they looked empty. There were usually two people pole-ing their way through the canal... a lot of
work, I think I would spring for an Evinrude.
These folks cook the food on those little boats and paddle or pole
up to you. Occasionally you will have an eating
barge on which you can get off your boat and sit at a table. The food is awesome.. and cheap. 10 Bot (25cents) for
2 skewers of meat. Yummy. The coolest thing about this is that its not a tourist trap. People actually live on these
canals and this is a standard day for them. (Most Thais eat out for their lunch meal, why not? It's so cheap!)
I have no idea what this is, the driver stopped the boat and started
yelling at me and pointing to this. I figured he
wanted me to take a picture, so I did and we were off.
Another picture of the boat I was in... by myself...
Ok... well That was my day. I hope you enjoy these pictures, I
hope you can all view them... If you have any
problems, or would like more pictures of me, please email me back.. I would love to show you. See ya.
PPS If you were able to see this, and it looked right please send me a quick email to let me know.. .Thanks... I had a lot of problems setting this up.