October 29, 2002
Heading to Cambodia

I'm still in Bangkok, though my impression of the city has improved somewhat since we found a decent hostel with no visible dead mice and air conditioning and a hot water shower. The bathroom is missing a sink, but what good is a sink without a drain pipe anyway? To top it off, we arrived after 3AM, so we got to check in and sleep that morning and that night, and it only counted as one night, saving us around $7 - bonus!

We made our way, via public bus system, to the Vietnam Embassy to retrieve our passports. All went smoothly, except Robin still wasn't feeling 100%, so we decided to delay our departure until tomorrow. Traffic in Bangkok is crazy. The fumes are enough to make a person start smoking to improve lung quality. The street lights are manually operated by someone in a uniform who sits in a booth at busy intersections. I caught one dozing today. My casual non-statistically significant observation also suggests that the Thai people may not be very interested in literature. I've seen most adults on the bus reading comic books (Yes Rick, you claim to be an avid reader, but do comic books really count?) or books with more pictures than words.

As for literature, long ago, I finished the one non-travel book I brought with me and all of my magazines. At the guest house in Chiang Mai, I traded a fashion magazine for Hawaii, the thousand plus page epic. I've wanted to read it since living in Hawaii in 1997, hearing about how my clients were represented in the fictional work. I figured I flew through the book I brought, so this would keep me occupied on long bus rides. What a freakin nightmare of a book! I'm obviously (and yes, usually) in stream of consciousness mode. Back to the trip...

Today, we saw Jim Thompson's home. Who's Jim Thompson, you ask? Excellent question. He was an American who moved to Thailand and revived the art of making silk. He mysteriously disappeared in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. But, he had erected a Thai estate before his disappearance. His home is filled with antiques from all around the world. With the help fo a kind lady who must be used to seeing foreigners walking through the back alleys with puzzled expressions, we finally found our way to his hidden home and took a compulsory tour that was given in unintelligible English. The art and architecture were interesting.

We had a rather horrible dinner at this cafe that was showing a pirated version of a movie. We heard audience laughter in the background and saw the top of someone's head throughout the picture... oh wait, there really wasn't a throughout, since the movie abruptedly ended about 80% of the way through.

Much of my Thailand experience has centered around the wonderful food. My mom visited over a decade ago, and she still recalls how delicious the chicken leg was that she bought from a street vendor. I'm at the point of not wanting to eat in "real" restaurants. The street vendor food is half the price (we're talking $0.12 for a Thai omelette over rice, vegetarian pad thai, a fruit smoothly, a delicious chicken leg - mom was right! - and $0.25 for fried pork with garlic and basil over rice or a banana and fudge crepe) and twice as good. So far, no stomach issues! But everything is fried or high in fat (well, at least my choices seem to be), so I admittedly feel satiated yet disgusting at the same time.

As for onward travel, originally, we were planning on heading for Cambodia next. Then we changed our minds and wanted to go to Laos. Given timing of long bus rides, Robin's desire to not take an overnight trip, and the fact that we can (supposedly) get our Cambodia visas at the border, we are departing for Siem Reap tomorrow morning at 6:30AM. Supposedly, there is tremendous corruption in Cambodia. Teachers solicit bribes from their students. Traffic cops wait to catch pedestrian offenders and shake them down for a couple of bucks. Now, most of you know that I don't stand for this corrupt bullshit, so the trip to Cambodia will be interesting. I will have to remember what dealing with the passport agent taught me - I am capable of holding my tongue, from time to time.

Supposedly, Internet access in Cambodia is painfully slow and surprisingly expensive at $11 an hour. So, the next entry may be from Vietnam... if I can free myself from Cambodian jail. I'll try to be good.

Posted by christina at October 29, 2002 06:40 AM