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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bangkok Part II -- OH SHHH.....

IT was 4 am when I awoke with the most horrendous abdominal pain. I quietly got up to go to the bathroom where I sat for an undetermined amount of time trying to relieve myself. The pain was so bad that I was completely drenched in sweat. I felt like was about to give birth... to some kind of evil monster. Seriously.

I was finally able to go back to bed and eventually fall back to sleep. When I awoke again, it was about 9:30 and Diane was having her coffee. She offered to walk to the pharmacy to get me some Immodium. It ended up that the pharmacy was about a mile away (we thought it was only a couple of blocks away). I took the Immodium, and it helped, but I still ached, though not bad enough to keep me from our planned outing.

We thought about going to Chinatown and scoping out the silver factory that we'd heard about. We also considered a couple of markets that didn't look like they'd be too far away. We opted to go to the nearest market. We headed out with our trusty little map. No sooner had we left the hotel and a woman approached Diane asking her if she needed help. She was very friendly, and told us she'd just gotten off work at the hotel. Diane told her we were looking for the market, and she replied, "Oh, that's not going to have local goods. You need to go here for the local goods. I'll take you there; we'll share a taxi." I said that I didn't want to go there, nor did I want to share a taxi. The woman ended up leaving in a huff. I think she just wanted a ride home (or wherever).

Diane and I walked over to the mall, but once inside, we were lost again. The signage there sucks! We were outside the mall and looking at our map trying to figure out where the hell we'd ended up, and another woman approached us. She told us of yet another market we should go to rather than the other two. She kept yapping on and on. Finally, we left her and we were going back to the hotel when a Tuk-Tuk driver approached us, "You ride tuk-tuk, I'll take you where you want to go!" Diane told the guy, "No, my friend won't ride in one of those." He starts after me trying to convince me to ride in his tuk-tuk. I flat-out told him "NO!" and walked away. We were heading back to the hotel, and Diane's bag was partially open, I was turning to look at her, when I saw that the guy was directly behind her! She turned around to face him, and then he dropped back. By that time we were back at the hotel.

After all the time we wasted walking around in circles because we were silly enough to listen to these people, I needed to lie down. Diane went back to the mall. I took a nap.

She came back a couple of hours later loaded down with a bag of goodies. "Oh, Diana, I found the coolest place at the mall. They've got all kinds of nice local goods. I'm going back. Do you want to go too?" Of course I did and we had fun browsing and shopping.

I had to be back at the hotel at 6 to pick up the ring I'd bought the day before (very pretty, but I paid too much for it). Each time I passed the street corner where the tuk-tuk guy had been, I noticed two women with babies panhandling. They were sitting on the sidewalk with their babies in their laps, breastfeeding them, and one arm outstretched with cup in hand for money. On my last trip back to the hotel, I gave one of them 20 Baht (US $.62). Hey Big Spender!! She smiled.

The streets in Bangkok are very dirty. One can barely make out where crosswalks are because the "white" paint is blackened from dirt. The taxis are nice Toyota Corollas, but there are no seatbelts in the back. I felt naked! The driver who took us back to the airport was driving too fast, and doing that herky-jerky thing that makes me nauseous.

The new Bangkok airport is dreary, not to mention that they've had to close it a couple of times because runways were cracking and other problems. The customs area where we arrived is nothing but fluorescent lights, plain concrete, and steel. Very utilitarian and institutional-looking. I hate fluorescent lighting! Yes, I know it's better for the environment, but can't somebody invent something better? That shit gives me a headache and puts me in a foul mood!

Diane and I had a great time together, and both of us are glad we made the trip. Neither of us wants to go back though. Singapore has spoiled me forever, and I was happy and grateful to be back home.

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