A Quiet Week in Bangkok

IMG_2012Happy New Year everyone!  I do hope that wherever you spent your Christmas and New Year celebrations, you had a good time.  Apparently, I crawled into some dark cave during the holidays, as evidenced by the lack of activity on the blog.  If you come here to check in and see whether or not I’ve avoided contracting some exotic disease during my time away, my apologies for having made you worry. On Christmas Eve, I flew from India to Bangkok, Thailand, checked into an upscale hotel and just let the next week go by in a pretty casual sort of way.  By that point, I had been on this global treck of mine for a solid two months, and fatigue was beginning to show up.  So, while I checked out a couple seminaries in Bangkok online and could have tried to make some contacts with folks, I figured the holidays would be a bad week for that sort of thing, and I took it as an excuse to just rest.  I was able to check into an “upscale” (not 5-star luxury, mind you) hotel because room rates in Thailand are pretty dang cheap.  So, I stayed at the same budget level as I’ve been spending in most other cities, but got a heckuva lot more for my money – high rise hotel with fitness center, multiple restaurants, room service, fuzzy bathrobe, spa, yada yada (didn’t utilize all those things, but they were there). As is my travel M.O., I wasn’t a great tourist.  There were a ton of things I could have filled my week with, but resetting my rhythms was my priority.  So when I felt like seeing something, I go do it.  When I felt like sleeping, I’d stay in and just be a bum.

If you’ve been to my Facebook page, you’ll know that I got out and got some pictures of some temples and had some good times, but it was all pretty chill. I won’t try to summarize a full week.  Instead, here are a few highlights:

–       Street food.  I’ve loved the food in just about every city I’ve visited on this adventure, but Bangkok wins the prize thus far for best smelling city when it comes to food.  If my nose had its way, I would have eaten about 15 times a day.  I controlled myself fairly well, but still enjoyed the local fare.  Thai food just plain rocks.

–       Traditional Thai massage.  One of the first thing you notice in Bangkok is that finding a massage place is about as easy as finding a mullet in a Wal Mart.  Some of these “massage” places are more legitimate than others (again, like the Wal Mart mullet), so I went straight to the source – Wat Pho.  That’s a big Buddhist temple in Bangkok, and home of the massive reclining Buddha statue.  But it’s also the home of a Traditional Thai massage training center.  So, after looking at the Buddha do some reclining, I did some reclining of my own for an hour.  Killer.  Super relaxing, painful, soothing, but super good.  I paid a little more than I could have at another place, but you get what you pay for, right?  Well, no, not exactly – given that I paid about 11 bucks for the hour, I’d say I got more than I paid for.

–       Public transportation.  Your Bangkok options are nearly endless.  Private buses,IMG_2004public buses, subway, elevated light rail “Skytrain,” tuk-tuk (auto-rickshaws), taxis, and motorcycle/scooter taxis.  At some point during my week there, I used all of these modes.  Sorry mom, that does include the motorcycle taxi . . . sans helmet.

–       Thai iced tea – if you’ve never had this lovely stuff, you need to head out to your closest Thai restaurant and get some.  I’ve had it plenty of times before going to Thailand, but it was so available and so authentic and so good there.

–       Public markets.  There are so many to choose from – day markets, night markets, weekend markets, sidewalks in every populated area of the city.  There is a lot of local art to be found, along with the obvious souvenirs.  Many of the vendors sell counterfeit products of a number of different varieties – belts, watches, luggage, shoes, cigarette lighters, medical products to address certain male dysfunctions.

IMG_1981Again, I was a bad tourist in many ways – I’m likely to return to the States and watch some travel show about Thailand, and kick myself for not taking more opportunities.  But it was a well-paced week for what I needed, and I felt refreshed leaving.  No guilt about being a bad tourist . . . but a little bit of guilt for being a bad blogger.  I’ll try to fix that, but I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.  Always great to start a new year behind schedule, eh?

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