Where to begin? I took another tuk tuk yesterday from the water taxi to Brioni factory, where I was getting a dress made. Three drivers were aghast at the price I quoted and roared off, only one listened and agreed to take me for 30 baht - the same I had paid the day before. He asked if I minded stopping at some place so he could get petrol. Faced with the option (I thought) of stopping briefly or stalling somewhere I agreed. Turns out, he took me to another clothing place where I had to go in and wander around for a few minutes so he could get a petrol coupon from them... I have no objection to helping the guy get free gas - except I wish I'd thought to then have my trip for free!
I discovered that a former WYA intern, Andreas Pergher, is also in Bangkok and we'd agree to meet at 6pm at my hostel. I was left with 30 minutes to get back so stopped for a quick bite at a street stand. The menu options were all in Thai so I asked for the soup that was being prepared. They were all very kind, one girl brought me a glass of ice water and the cook kept checking to see if I enjoyed his soup. I did, except for all the fat stuck to every piece of meat, and the myriad pieces of chopped tongue. There is something not right about having cooked tastebuds in your soup.
Tuk tuk drivers are used to scamming tourists. Even though I offered the same price to take me back to the hostel (for less than half the distance) they all refused. So I resorted to asking motorcycle drivers, via a corrupt cop who laughed at me when I tried to bargain and told me my price was crazy... I was in the same area I'd spent 2 hours trying to escape from the day before and wasn't willing to do the same again. Finally I met a kind woman who told me which bus to get on. She didn't speak any English but I'd learned and brought a card from the hostel with it's name and address written in Thai for future adventures.
We got on the same bus and after a while she realised it wasn't actually going past my hostel. She was incredibly kind though, got off the bus with me and walked me the 10 minutes to my hostel - completely out of her way - as she felt responsible to get me home safely. I have definitely noticed that the Thai people are, for the most part, incredibly kind. I also have a bag from the Wat Pho massage school which helps a great deal in people offering more tips as they're excited I'm studying at their best massage school.
Tomorrow I test to pass my massage course. I'm so nervous, there is so much to learn. Apart from the sequence of steps there are body positions which go with each movement. We're graded on our body position, on knowing the steps, on giving a good massage and on our manner. We also need to know basic contra-indications, etc.
I'm going to miss going every day. The teachers are so kind, and have taken to hitting (lightly and friendly) my massage partner any time he does something he shouldn't, with a pillow, their hand, or whatever is handy. Then they'll fall on me laughing as his reactions crack them up. As they're instructing the Thai girl I've also started to learn a few numbers in Thai. Once they realised I was paying attention they've gone out of their way to teach me a little more. I've now learned to count to 10 (although I don't remember...) and some other phrases - note the Thai phrase as the title?!?