Friday, October 13, 2006

Good news/Bad news

I'll give you the bad news first, so no one has to worry a second longer than needed (mom).  Sometime yesterday afternoon my iPod died.  I mean dead as a doornail.  Before you roll your eyes, let me tell you that I had transfered a whole week's worth of photos onto the thing, both mine and Dag's, of course erasing those cards thereafter.  So it is POSSIBLE that I will not be able to show you a photo of our disgusting train breakfast after all.
The good news is that my ankles have returned.
Yesterday's half-day outing was touristy as I'd predicted, but fun nonetheless.  They drove us up north to Maetaman Elephant Camp and first treated us to a thoroughly disturbing display of elephant acrobatics. 


I don't know if elephants have the capacity for dignity, but if so, then this show really was the worst thing I've ever seen.  Think basketball, hula hoops, arts & crafts and walking on two legs.  The best part of the show for me was when one elephant who had his back to the audience so they could see the still life he was painting lifted his tail and dispensed with his breakfast.  Now THAT'S what elephants do!  Riding them around the grounds was still pretty cool, and our "driver" was awesome about taking our photo (those are as of yet, still in existance). 


We were shuffled by souvenier stalls on our way to the Oxen pulled cart that drove us to our buffet lunch.  (Aaron, there was chicken curry, sweet and sour fish, noodles, fried rice, chicken legs and brothy soup.) 


We met a honeymooney couple, one of whom had previously been employed by adidas Canada and we knew several of the same people.  WEEIRD!  After lunch, it was down the muddy river on a bamboo raft


then on to a butterfly farm and orchid farm. 


We decided we'd had enough animal exploitation for one day and skipped the monkey and snake farms.
That evening we finally met our tour leader and joined the group for dinner.  I'll just say we have a ways to go still as far as bonding with the group goes.  98% of them seem positively marvy, but we ended up seated next to the one who seemed to want nothing to do with us (or possibly with anyone as there seemed to be a complete invisible force sheild between our end of the table and everyone else).  Dag tried very hard to chat this person up to be pretty much shut down and then it got really super loud and it was very TGI Friday's in there (you could buy a souvenier apron or T-shirt!) so we threw down our 200 baht and ran ran ran.  As it turned out, the whole area where she'd taken us was full of white backpackers drinking guinness (nothing wrong with guinness, of course but we are trying to be in another country, you know?).  So we grabbed a tuk-tuk back to our hotel and wandered around on foot til we found a place empty except for the single employee, a Thai lady named Mai and her French companion both struggling to communicate with each other in English and drinking Singha while a stray dog wandered in and out.  I commented on the half carved cantaloupe sitting on the bar and she launched into an excited story about how she wants to become a professional fruit carver and showed us her tools and the book she is using to teach herself.  Now THIS was more like it!  We talked about the new airport in Bangok and about how she has been unable to get a visa to work at her auntie's restaurant in New Zealand.
Today we hired a driver to take us to the Doi Suthep temple up on the hill.  It was gorgeous!




  Uncle Scott, I did get my blessing up there!  This temple is much more strict than the others we've been to.  You must sit on the floor to take photos inside some of the buildings and there are giant pants available at the entry for those tourists who didn't get the memo about covering one's knees. 


I was looking in the doorway of one of the buildings watching people get blessed by the monk when the guy sitting to the monk's left waved me in and motioned for me to kneel in front of the monk behind a few other Thai people who were doing the same.  I was a little startled by the drops of water he threw on our heads while muttering over us and the guy then waved me over to him asking for my left hand to which he tied a piece of white string while saying things both in Thai and occasionally the words "good luck".  But his tone sounded like the mall santa in A Christmas Story: "HO...ho...hoooooooo". I'm sure that is not how it was, but it struck me a little like that and made me laugh ever so slightly.  But of course, he says this 1000000 times per day so maybe it does get a little blah for him.  I once again chickened out on the souvenir shopping at the bottom of the temple so those of you who are expecting gifts from me (I've been told I can't return to work empty handed) may have to be satisfied with whatever I can find in the convenience store.  Haggling is such a chore and as much as I love you all, I guess it's still not enough to make me want to shop for you!  But do you really need an elephant figurine out of fake jade?  Maybe you'd really just like a nice bag of salty Thai peanuts?
Instead of the obligatory visit to the waterfall, we asked the driver to drop us off at a good Thai restaurant near our hotel with no tourists, which he did.  He told us that all the employees of the medical center across the street go there on their lunch hours.  I had a toe-curling plate of Phad Thai noodles with shrimp and Dag had the same.

Phad Thai

In a few hours we're back on the overnight train to Bangkok and we'll be spending Saturday afternoon checking out the bridge on the River Kwai.  Our evening is free during which I presume we'll make another attempt to forge bonds among our travel companions.  Then on Sunday we'll be escorted around the city by my lovely friend from the adidas BKK office and her husband!


Aaron said...

Sorry to hear about the photos! The food sounds delicious, especially the Pad Thai ... Don't throw away your iPod. Your data can probably be rescued once you get back to the U.S. The Apple service people should be able to do it, as long as the drive was not damaged.

Uncle Larry said...

Hi sweetie, sorry to hear about the Ipod, I think Aaron's right you should be able to recover when you get back. Hope you bond a bit with your tour partners if not it will be your sole responsibility to entertain Dag for the entire trip. I would have definetly done the monkey farm!

Love You, be safe. UL

Mittens Pierre said...

i would have had a TOTAL meltdown about the ipod pix.