Saturday, July 4, 2009

The kindness of strangers

When I arrived back to my hostel this afternoon I searched for the key to my lock and couldn't find it.  Until I looked up and saw it sticking out of my lock, draped around my locker door handle, not locking my locker! I nearly had a heart attack until I peaked inside and saw that not a single item was missing!!! Funnily enough, the dorm room had been locked today for the first time since I'd been here.  I can only assume that my roommates saw my stupidity and locked the room to protect my stuff.  I am lucky...

Last night, I met up with Andreas and we took a bus over to chinatown where we'd also heard there was a late-night clothing market.  We heard correctly, it didn't even begin until midnight!  We ate some delicious food, wandered around and then headed over to Lumphini park and night market.  We got off at the stop with all the malls - which it turned out was about an hours walk from the night market.  By the time we got close we saw a sign for it saying it was 700 meters away.  My flip flops are super comfy, but not for cross-city treks. We were so close we kept going.  Lumphini bazaar is a great place; there was a live singer with hundreds of seats/tables for people to sit and eat and drink.  Then the market goes on forever.  We barely entered despite over an hour of exploring as the stalls are so closely packed and full of beautiful items.  

It was great to catch up with Andreas.  He arrived a few days before me so is also still exploring Bangkok.  He plans to live here for a year or so though, and has been learning Thai as fast as he can.  It was great as he would use a few phrases to ask people for directions or to order food.  It was also good to see him and catch up.  After the night market, I decided to take a tuk tuk home.  I knew it wasn't a long trip, but didn't have the map clear in my mind.  I bargained the driver down to half his starting price so that Andreas called me Donald Trump.  
Bangkok is so beautiful.  Being July, it is overrun by European tourists and backpackers.  Thankfully, by choosing the cheapest hostel I could find I also chose a hostel far from backpacker central.  I'm in the heart of the business and jewellery district.  Each morning I walk past rows of delicious breakfast foods, pastries and fruits.  Once my massage course is over I'm going to have to spend a morning eating something from every stand. Last night, as I was wandering around for hours, I was so excited to know that today I would be giving/getting massages all day and all my soreness would be mashed out of me.  Now, the thought of leaving the course and going without massages for months is just so sad.  Thankfully I'll be in the Philippines soon and can get a massage there!

Apparently Bangkok is sometimes referred to as the Venice of Asia.  There are canals along many streets and many grates/streets cover the river flowing underneath.  There are some beautiful old, historic buildings and the culture here is so rich.  I love the custom of people bowing as they greet each other, and the politeness with which even goods and money are exchanged as they take the money with both hands.  We pray each morning before the class begins to ask that we give a massage with the proper temperament, and also that no evil will enter either us or the person receiving the massage.  There are temples and little shrines to Buddha down every street and even in front of the malls.  People will stop and pray at the street shrines, lighting incense and bowing.

I took a picture last night of a shrine to Buddha outside a mall.  Between the two shrines is a huge banner declaring a 50% sale. I'll post it once I have the chance to upload my pictures.

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