Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jul 09 2018

Bangkok, part 2

I didn’t sleep well last night, but that’s not news…I haven’t been sleeping well lately anyway. I did sleep, but getting up was all too easy at 6 a.m. Downstairs, our driver had already picked up the students who are staying at another hotel; they were all waiting downstairs. We piled into the van and headed through and out of the city, across an impressive bridge and through countryside riddled with canals. Our first destination was that famous market where the train comes through and the market miraculously reappears. We got on the train one stop before the end of the line, which is the market, with the hope of getting some of the reappearing market from the last car, but apparently most of the Western tourists had thought of that, and were lined up. When we did pass through the market, the only thing visible was other Western tourists hopping onto the track after the train, far overshadowing any actual market. It was all rather comical.

Chenbl and I walked around until we found some egg and rice for breakfast, and then we all got back in the van and headed out for one of the water markets. We’d thought we’d get there and maybe take a boat, but it turned out that there was a boat service to the floating market, and we had to get our driver William to get them to agree to just a one-way trip there in the boat instead of a huge itinerary that included coconut milking and a temple. Even though we’d agreed to go directly to the market, our boat driver still stopped at most of the little stalls along the way where they try to get you to buy things like beer and painting of elephants. But I like boats, so I just sat and enjoyed the ride, even though they made us get out before we actually entered the floating market itself. We walked around for a while, taking photos and having some lunch and avoiding being bitten by the occasional poisonous lizards that are lying around, before getting back in the van and driving to the tree temple, which is a temple that has apparently been enveloped in a tree. People were surrounding it, taking off their shoes before entering, and burning even thicker incense than Taiwanese people do (which is pretty damn thick). I took some photos from outside but didn’t feel like going in, electing instead to go take pictures of tourists posing with painted cement martial arts figures in the back while a smoking monk stood nearby and coughed at us.

I was taking photos of cement martial arts figures apparently depantsing each other when I heard a loud noise from the road. A car had hit a motorcycle, taking it down and destroying its bumper in the process. Nobody seemed to be hurt, and police soon arrived to direct traffic until the wreck could be moved off the road. We sipped coconut juice and ate bananas as we watched from the temple. Thai temples tend to be very tall. In fact, it’s obvious from most of the buildings here that this is a country devoid of earthquakes. Even the buses are taller, for some reason.

Our next and final destination was another floating market, this one featuring a firefly tour that evening. It was extremely crowded, and we booked a boat for the evening before spending the afternoon wandering around the area. My favorite part was by far the outlying edges of the place where people actually live, far away from the crowded touristy bits. Chenbl and I bought blue and red hats, respectively, to match our shirts, and munched on market snacks. It was hot, but not more so than it would be in Taiwan.

We got in our boat, along with its pudgy Thai pilot, around 6 p.m., and headed out to watch the sunset, but the sun wasn’t having it, so we turned around and headed towards the firefly area. It was quite pleasant, as I love boats, and the houses and people on the banks were all interesting to watch. Other boats began to pass us as I recorded a couple of experimental live videos on Facebook and Instagram (with the latter you can zoom). Soon it was quite dark, and we saw several trees filled with either fireflies or clever LED displays before we circled around to the floating market. Something very large on the other side of the river was completely engulfed in fire, but we didn’t get close enough to see exactly what.

Traffic on the way back was stupendous, but William managed it well. I have to say that, although most Taiwanese drivers are fearless, I saw Thai drivers doing things that would make even the most fearless Taiwanese driver step back and say, “Hmm, I might want to reconsider this, what with all the animals involved and so little clearance.”

After we got back we went for another stroll around the night markets near our hotel, including sitting down for some nice pad thai. I’m beginning to get the hang of shooting here, I think. It’s good that I came a few days early.

posted by Poagao at 1:39 am  

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