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Bangkok Trip December 2016

Here, finally, are some photos from my December vacation in Bangkok and Phuket. Below are some I made in Bangkok, and in the next post I’ll feature some Phuket photos.

My friend Nai and I stayed at the Silom City Hotel, which is about a three-star facility, so the price per night is fairly modest, about $40-45, depending on if you want to have the buffet breakfast, which is not that great, but it’s ample. The hotel is in a great location and the staff are wonderful, so it’s become our go-to place when we stay in Bangkok.

We were there for four nights, enough time to do a bit of shopping, walk around at night and wander through Lumphini Park, Bangkok’s version of New York City’s Central Park. I highly recommend Lumphini for some serenity amidst the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.

Here are the photos. If you’re interested in other scenes of Bangkok from previous trips, just do a search in the search box on this page.

(Please note that my Photo Gallery link on the right side of the page isn’t working at this time. I’ll try to get it back up soon.)

Bangkok Skyline

Here’s the view outside our hotel window up on the ninth floor (out of 10). If you stay at the Silom City Hotel, be sure to get a room that’s 8th floor or higher for a great view.

Ron at fountain at Lumphini Park

Here’s a fellow that looks suspiciously like me, posing at the fountain at the entrance to Lumphini Park. Nai took this picture, but he made everything in the photo look older than it is.

Lao man at fountain at Lumphini Park

This is my friend Nai at the fountain. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll recognize him from innumerable previous posts. What a ham!

Silom Skyline from Lumphini Park

This is near the entrance to Lumphini Park, looking toward the Silom section of Bangkok in the late afternoon. Around this time of day, many urbanites use the park for jogging, strolling, bicycyling and relaxing on the luxuriant grounds.

Nai at lake at Lumphini Park

Here Nai stares across the pond (lake) at Lumphini Park, watching the boaters enjoying the afternoon coolness.

Lumphini Park skyscrapers

Looking across the lake at Lumphini Park with the late afternoon sun highlighting some of the skyscrapers that surround the park. Perfect time to go boating.

Lumphini Park Lake

More skyscrapers around the lake, and one of the fountains is gushing, sending spray on some of the boaters. This is a great place to relax in Bangkok.

Dusit Thani Hotel spire

This is the spire atop the main building of the Dusit Thani Hotel in the Silom Area of Bangkok. I’ve never stayed there (too expensive), but I’ve heard it’s pretty nice. I took this photo at the entrance of Lumphini Park at dusk.

GPF Building in Bangkok.

This is the top of the GPF building in the Silom area. I took this one also from the entrance of Lumphini. The building is not far from the Dusit Thani, but I have no idea what the GPF stands for. I’m fairly certain it’s not a hotel, but it could be a bank or investment firm.

Lumphini Park Becomes Lumphini Camp

Joggers and other users of Bangkok’s Lumphini Park were complaining that their use of the area was being hindered by the protesters camped there. That obstruction is probably going to change, but it’s going to get worse. The leaders of the protest decided to close all the other protest sites, unblock the roads and move all activities to the park.

I walked to the park late Sunday morning and got in the middle of the thousands of people setting up camp, listening to speeches, waiting in food lines and lazing in the shade to escape the hot sun. Compared to the park yesterday, this is a huge change. My guess is that nobody will be able to use the park for activities like jogging, bicycle riding, or outdoor aerobics classes.

Saturday, I strolled to more remote areas of the park, and there were still some pockets of quiet and serenity in the lush landscape of tropical trees and flowers.

Flowers in Lumphini Park

Just a few of the hundreds of flowering trees and shrubs in Lumphini Park

Chinese Pavilion at Lumphini

This is the Chinese Pavilion in Lumphini. It was an oasis amid the chaotic areas.

Chinese Pavilion, Lumphini Park

Here’s a better view of the Chinese Pavilion.

Even in some of the tent encampments the scene was peaceful, almost serene.

Tents along a stream at Lumphini Park

A tent area along one of the many watercourses in the park.

That peacefulness is gone, I suspect. Throughout the park, hundreds of new tents have been erected with the arrival of protesters from the other sites. I wish everyone well, but I’m afraid they’re not making any friends with the other users of the park.

Protesters at Lumpini Park, Bangkok.

Just a small part of the many protesters at Lumpini Park, listening to speeches.

The mood, though, remains festive, almost like Mardi Gras, with people wearing smiles along with costumes and accessories that proclaim their involvement. Here are a few of them.

Protesters at Lumphini Park.

Protesters at Lumphini Park.

Flag waver at Lumphini Park protest.

Flag waver at Lumphini Park protest.

Protesters at Lumphini Park

More people enjoying the day, sitting in the shade.

Protesters at Lumphini Park

I don’t know what the pink flags signify. Perhaps they’re one of the royal colors.

Coffee cup tuk-tuk.

Care for a BIG cup of coffee? Here, volunteers are dispensing coffee to protesters.

Foreign expats are involved, also. A German resident of Bangkok and his wife are outfitted appropriately.

German man and wife at Bangkok protests.

Ready to entertain the multitudes, a German resident and his wife join the protesters.

I entered the area again on Sunday night, and the number of people had dramatically increased from that morning. Thousands more protesters had arrived from the now-closed sites, and walking around near the stage was almost impossible. I was squashed from both sides in a slow moving line that was going nowhere in particular. At the first opportunity, I bailed out into an open area. Taking photos was equally difficult. The one below shows the main stage, but it doesn’t quite give the impression of the large crowd.

Night photo of crowd of protesters at Lumphini Park.

Part of the large crowd of protesters at Lumphini Park. I felt a small triumph that I was able to free myself from the crush of people to take this shot.

I was able to work my way to another exit from the park, just down the road from the subway station. I walked back to the main intersection of Silom and Rama IV roads. As you can see, traffic is back to normal. No more casual strolling down the middle of the street.

Intersection of Silom and Rama IV roads.

The intersection of Silom and Rama IV roads. This is where the main stage of the Lumphini protest was located. Now it’s in the park itself.

That was my brush with the protest areas in Bangkok. It seemed a different kind of protest from the ones in which people were killed in the violence. I hope we don’t see news headlines like that again.

At the National Stadium Protest

I had to do some shopping for personal odds and ends at Tokyu Department Store at the Mahboonkrong (MBK) shopping center. After I finished that chore, I walked out into the protest site and snapped off a few pictures. The scene and crowd atmosphere weren’t that different from the Silom/Lumphini site. Here’s a few of the photos I took.

Tents near MBK shopping center

Orderly rows of tents were erected next to the MBK shopping center, near the National Stadium.

Siam protest site

I believe this is Rama I Road, a continuation of Sukhumvit Road.

Singer at Siam protest

A singer at the main stage of the Siam protest area.

Selling shoes at the Siam protest site.

Do you need some shoes? No harm in making a few baht while you stay out of the mid-day sun at the Siam protest site.

Couple at MBK shopping center

At MBK Shopping Center. No other caption needed.

Bangkok Under Protest

I was tired after arriving in Bangkok, so I stayed near the Silom City Hotel and ate at the small food street nearby, Silom Soi 20. There are several items I need to buy in Bangkok, items I didn’t feel like hauling with me, like some new running shoes, new shirts and t-shirts and other odds and ends. I’ll be here until March 3rd, so I started my shopping errands yesterday, Friday the 28th.

But first, my biggest goal was to find some of the protest sites where the anti-government opposition was holding court, threatening to shut down Bangkok. I don’t think they ever really shut it down, but several of the busiest avenues in Bangkok were turned into walking streets, closed to the usual heavy traffic of cars, buses, tuk-tuks and motorbikes.

I didn’t know what to expect. Of course, I’d read about the tragic deaths that had recently occurred, but I’d also read that the demonstrations were mainly peaceful. I had to go to Hualamphong train station to buy a ticket to Nongkhai, where I’ll be heading on March 3rd on the overnight sleeper. So, I decided to walk the few kilometers to the subway near Lumphini Park, one of the biggest protest areas, and take the short ride to Hualamphong in air-conditioned comfort.

I had no idea how big the protest area would be, so I walked along expecting the sidewalks to be jammed with people and the road to be impassable with a permanent traffic jam. In actuality, you don’t really notice the protest site until you get close to Lumphini Park, near the subway station. Silom Road is closed to traffic for about half a kilometer before the park, so it’s easy to avoid the normally crowded sidewalks, jammed with vendors, by walking down the middle of Silom, an unusual experience on this heavily traveled road. You can also walk above the crowd on the overhead walkway, which is what I first did. Here are a few photos from the walkway.

No traffic on Silom Road

An unusual sight–no traffic on Silom Road, blocked by protesters.

A quiet Silom Road

This is a view down the other direction of Silom. The tire barricade and the black netting mark the entrance to the protest site.

Food vendors on Silom Road

Food vendors are set up all along the road, taking advantage of the large crowds.

Silom Road vendors

More vendors along closed-to-traffic Silom Road.

The atmosphere of the protest was more that of a street fair than a demonstration against the current government. In addition to the usual assortment of vendors on the sidewalks, lining Silom on both sides were food stalls and vendors selling everything imaginable, from belts and baubles and beads to t-shirts proclaiming the protest. Huge speakers were piping in the music and speeches from the main stage near Lumphini and the protesters, tired, but undaunted, seemed to be enjoying themselves, as were the gawking tourists, including me.

“Would I be allowed to take photos?” I wondered. Yeah, it was OK. So, I walked into the area and into Lumpini and took these photos. I always asked first before taking a shot, and everyone was quite agreeable and friendly about it, and I always followed up with a thank you. I was turned down only once.

I really liked the spirit of the people; their friendliness was apparent in their smiles and their determination apparent in their staying power of doing this for weeks on end. Whether their political aims are correct or not is for history and the Thai people to decide. No matter, I enjoyed being among them.

This is the first photo I took on entering the area. The middle guy was agreeable, so I took the shot. No problems, so I became more confident about being among the people. I wonder if the protest banner makers could use a native English-speaking proofreader.

Protests near Lumphini Park

Three protesters with dog. I asked the guy in the middle if it was OK to take a photo and he smilingly agreed. The other two seemed not to notice.

I saw this fellow from far off waving his flag, and I knew immediately that I had to catch him in his moment of pride. This is along one of the side streets leading to the main stage area.

Thailand flag waver.

Flag waver along a street leading into the main stage area.

Lots of vendors here. I should buy a protest shirt. Maybe I’ll go back and get one later.

T-shirt vendor.

T-shirt vendor along a side street. Lots of colorful protest shirts are for sale.

Near the flag waver I saw this older gentleman, with his cool toothless smile. I think he asked me to take his photo before I could ask for his permission to do so.

Toothless man smiling.

An enthusiast near where I saw the flag waver. This guy is really into it, with his toothless, but infectious, grin.

Here are a few of the hundreds of tents where the protesters are living. This is near the entrance to Lumphini Park, which is jammed with tents, shower stalls and cooking areas. I took a few more photos earlier today, which I’ll try to get processed and posted by tomorrow.

Tent city near Lumphini Park

Tent city near Lumphini Park. The park itself is crammed with hundreds of tents.

There are tents set up inside larger tents. Here some folks are enjoying a gab session, staying out of the afternoon heat. I asked the guy on the left about taking a photo and he gave me a big smile and a thumbs up, but he immediately went into “serious” mode when I took the shot. After I finished, he smiled again.

People talking

Enjoying a gab session away from the heat of the early afternoon.

I walked around the park a bit more and decided it was time to get out of the heat and go to the subway station. But, I saw this older lady sitting under an awning. I don’t know if she was just resting there or whether she was selling the “V for Vendetta” masks. I liked her smile.

V for Vendetta mask

“V for Vendetta” character mask. I think this lady was selling them.

Just one more shot before the subway entrance. I caught these two guys near an “I (heart) Thailand” sign near the main stage.

Two men resting

A couple of guys taking a break at one of the “I (heart) Thailand” signs near the main stage.

It was time to get out of the heat. It’s been around 95 degrees fahrenheit (35 C) in Bangkok the last few days and I was sweating. I went to the entrance to the subway station and took the escalator down. Wow! There was a sweet, cool breeze coming up from the underground area. Was it ever a sensuous feeling! I thought that maybe I should go up and down the escalators several times to repeat the cooling breeze, but there’s a security checkpoint at the bottom. I figured that sooner or later the cop on duty would get wise to me.

I got my ticket at Hualamphong and then took the wonderfully air-conditioned subway to the protest site near the National Stadium. I took a few more photos there, but I’ll save them for my next post.

You might wonder why people fall in love with a particular city. Is it the restaurants and the food, the music venues, the sightseeing opportunities or the overall culture? I really love Bangkok and I have for years. It’s my favorite city of the ones I’ve visited. Yesterday, though, I think I discovered why I love it so much. Sure, it has great food, beautiful Buddhist temples and tons of culture. Yestereday, for me, it was the people. Good luck to all of them, on both sides of the political divide. I hope they get this settled peacefully and soon. Please, no more violence, no more deaths.

Bangkok Skyline

We had an old-fashioned, rip-roarin’ thunderstorm claw its way through Yeosu earlier today, a nice respite from the bland, misty weather of late. It brought some brief, but heavy rain and cooled things down a bit, though it did nothing to relieve the miserable, high humidity. This is probably the worst time of year to be in Yeosu, July and most of August.

The storm brought back memories of Bangkok and some of the heavy rains that occasionally hit the city. In my previous post, Nai and I left Nongkhai, headed for the City of Angels. We checked into the same hotel, Silom City, that I had stayed at during the first part of my vacation. I had booked a room for 3 nights, unsure if we wanted to stay in the same area for the remainder of our time in Bangkok. The room we had was similar to the one I had earlier, with the same view out the window.

We decided not to change hotels, so I asked the front desk if we could book the room for another 4 nights. They said the basic rooms were full, but they could move us into a deluxe room for about the same price, if I’d want to forego breakfast. Sure, I thought, why not. Well, the 8th-floor view from the new room was incredible. We had a small balcony with a floor-to-ceiling view of the Silom area skyline, one of the best views of Bangkok I’ve ever had. I stayed at the Baiyoke Sky Hotel way back in 2004, in a room on the 65th floor or so. That, of course, had a fantastic view, but this one ran a close second. Here are a few shots.

Bangkok at night

Bangkok at Night

Bangkok at night

Bangkok at Night

Sunset over Bangkok

Sunset Over Bangkok

Several of the tallest skyscrapers in Bangkok are in this area. Here are a couple of (not very successful) panoramic shots.

Panorama of Silom Area

Panorama of Silom Area

Panoramic of Silom area

Panoramic of Silom Area

Anyway, I certainly recommend the Silom City Hotel, especially if you can get a deluxe corner room.

That about wraps up my posts from my recent vacation. Stay tuned for some other stuff later, though I’m not sure what!

Rainy South East Asia

There’s been boatloads of rain here in Vientiane the last few days, and more is in the forecast. The Internet connection has been spotty, at best, and I also spent a few days in Nai’s village, where there is no Internet. So, I haven’t been able to post in a while. Here’s what’s been going on.

First, here’s a bit better look at the Sri Maha Mariamman temple near Soi 20. It was fairly crowded and difficult to find a good position for a shot, due also to the heavy traffic in the area.

Sri Maha Mariamman temple

Sri Maha Mariamman

Sri Maha Mariamman temple

Sri Maha Mariamman

Here are a few more shots of the Soi 20 street food area. The Islamic Mosque can be seen in the first one, to the right side of the photo.

Soi 20 in Bangkok

Soi 20

Lots of fruit to be found on Soi 20.

Fruit Market

Fruit Market

Fruit Market

Fruit Market

So, I had a lot of time to kill before catching the overnight train to Nongkhai. Mainly, I did a lot of walking around the Silom Road area, and I hit some of the big malls near Siam Square. First, here’s a shot of the spirit house outside of the hotel. I find these little shrines quite interesting and there’s thousands of them in Bangkok. This excellent article says that they are houses for invisible helpful spirits. Most of them are fascinating and beautiful.

Spirit House

Spirit House

Here’s a couple shots along Silom Road. One is a dragon statue not too far up the road from the hotel, and the other is a shot of a new building framed by the sky train.

Dragon Statue

Dragon Statue

Bangkok Skyline

Bangkok Skyline

I bought a couple of books in the Siam Paragon mall, a really upscale shopping area. How upscale? Wanna buy a car? Take a gander at these that you can find there.

Rolls Royce Dealer

Rolls Royce Dealer

Maserati Dealer

Maserati Dealer

This one’s a Lotus.

Lotus Dealer

Lotus Dealer

Finally caught the overnighter to Nongkhai. It departs at 8:00 p.m. and is supposed to arrive at 7:45 the next morning. The last few times I’ve taken it, it’s been almost two hours late arriving, so I asked Nai to meet me around 10 o’clock. Unfortunately, I guess, it was only half an hour late, so I had a bit of time on my hands until Nai got there. Started reading a book, but I also noticed the station crew giving a good scrubdown to the cars.

Cleaning the train

A Clean Machine

Nai got there around 9:30 and we stayed a few days in Nongkhai, then went into Laos and to his village outside of Vientiane. I’ll have a future post about that, hopefully in a couple of days. More later.

Greetings from Thailand

Yes, I’m currently in Bangkok, Thailand starting my three-weeks vacation. I got here on Friday after an uneventful flight from Incheon Airport, leaving behind a dreary, overcast Yeosu. It’s beautiful here this morning, and I’d like to stay longer, but I’m leaving on the overnight train to Nongkhai, Thailand, there to meet up with my friend Nai. Here’s a view from my hotel window taken just a short time ago. I couldn’t get a better shot because the windows don’t open. If there were a fire, I wouldn’t be able to escape out the window, but that wouldn’t make much difference–I’m on the 7th floor.

View from hotel room

View from Silom City Hotel

I usually stay in the Sukhumvit area, but decided to stay in the Silom district. I’m at the Silom City Hotel, which isn’t too bad. Certainly, it’s not a five- or even a four-star venue, but it’s location is its big selling point, and the staff are very friendly and helpful. Right around the corner is one of Bangkok’s excellent street food districts on Soi 20. Loads of delicious, cheap Thai food are yours for the taking.

Here are a few shots of the area, but I neglected to take any photos of the food. This is one of the typical vendors along the soi.

Food vendor

Food vendor

Once the rains come, which do so with regularity this time of year, everyone covers up or gets under an umbrella.

Soi 20 Rain

Soi 20 Rain

I met up with one of my colleagues from the university, Mike from near Toronto, Canada. He arrived here a day earlier and left for Nongkhai and Laos last night on the train. There’s a good chance I’ll run into him up there eventually. He also stayed at the Silom City Hotel, so we hung out together the last couple of days. Here’s a shot of him on Soi 20 at night. In the background is a famous Hindu shrine in the area, and farther back is a Christian hospital, I think. I like the juxtaposition of the two religions. Behind us, up the Soi, is a mosque, which just further emphasizes the religious mingling of mostly Buddhist Bangkok.

Mike at Soi 20

Mike at Soi 20

We also spent a little time at Lumphini Park on Friday evening. Here’s mike relaxing on a bench at the park.

Mike at Lumphini Park

Mike at Lumphini Park

It’s getting close to check-out time at the hotel, so I’d better wrap this up. The train doesn’t leave until 8 p.m., so I’ve got several hours to kill. I’ll take a walk down Soi 20 to get some better shots than the few I’ve already taken, and I’ll take a short walk over to the Hindu shrine for some more photos. I’ll probably do some book shopping at Siam Paragon mall and take a look around at the Mahboonkrong (MBK) mall. If time allows, I’ll do my usual thing and go dining at the Bourbon Street Restaurant.

I’ll have many more posts to make and photos to share, I hope. So, watch for more later.

Wat Traimit

As I indicated in the previous Chinatown post, I did have enough time to tour Wat Traimit, one of the big attractions of Chinatown. According to the link on that post, the Golden Buddha in Traimit is the world’s largest solid gold Buddha image, weighing in at 5.5 tons and standing 15 feet tall (although the image is seated). So, at today’s gold prices, the image is worth quite a few millions of dollars!

Wat Traimit Buddha

Wat Traimit Buddha

There’s also an interesting history of the 13th century statue, a history involving deception and discovery. Again, check out the link to read about the image.

Here’s another smaller Buddha image that’s near the Golden Buddha.

Wat Traimit Small Buddha Statue

Wat Traimit Small Buddha Statue

There’s also a detailed history of Chinatown located in a second-floor exhibition, which shows 3D life-sized scenes of daily living and which also includes a scale model of Chinatown as it looked in the mid 1950s or so. This was the only photo I got of the exhibition, since most museums and similar places don’t allow you to take photos. I didn’t see any signs forbidding it, but I didn’t want to offend anyone. At the final exhibit, the scale model of Chinatown, I saw someone else taking a shot, so I figured it was ok and took the one below. As with all the photos taken this vacation trip, I had only my pocket point-and-shoot with me. It’s a good camera, but it doesn’t do too well in dark lighting, so I had to crank up the ISO to capture this shot. In post-processing, I removed most of the digital noise that’s usually present with high ISO settings, but in doing so, the image lost some of its sharpness, as you can see in the photo below. I’ll have to bring along my small tripod next time.

Wat Traimit Chinatown Exhibit

Wat Traimit Chinatown Exhibit

And, of course, here are a few shots of the exterior of the wat. As you can see, Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej is honored everywhere.

Wat Traimit exterior

Wat Traimit

Wat Traimit Bell

Wat Traimit Bell

Wat Traimit 3D Mosaic

Wat Traimit 3D Mosaic

This one is looking up to the spire from a position close to one of the outside walls.

Wat Traimit

Wat Traimit

Directly next door to Wat Traimit is a smaller temple, sort of an annex. Here’s a detail shot of the roof of that area.

Wat Traimit annex

Wat Traimit annex roof detail

Also next to Traimit is a boys’ school (well, I didn’t see any girls, so I assume it’s a boys’ school). At the entrance to the school is a statue of a scholar (again, I assume) from days gone by. Here are the kids during what appears to be recess.

Boys' school next to Wat Traimit.

Boys' School recess

And the scholar.

Boys' school statue

Boys' school scholar statue.

Finally, I did have some time to go to the Siam Paragon shopping mall to buy some reading material. They usually have some kind of display outside the center, and this year’s set-up featured an Alice in Wonderland motif. (Pretty girls not included) Quite colorful.

Siam Paragon display

Alice in Wonderland at Siam Paragon shopping center

OK, that’s about it for the Bangkok portion of the trip. It feels like I’ve kind of over-saturated the blog with too many photos of the trip already, so I’ll just post a few more from Nong Khai and Laos a bit later. In the meantime, I’ll process the new Expo 2012 photos I took this past Saturday and get those up soon. More later.

Laos-Thailand Trip Report: Bangkok’s Chinatown

In all my previous visits to Bangkok, I’d never visited Chinatown, except for a crazy tuk-tuk ride on my way to another area several years ago. I’ve read and heard that this section of Bangkok is one of the city’s most interesting and fascinating to visit. Here’s what Lonely Planet has to say about it:

“Bangkok’s Chinatown is the urban explorer’s equivalent of the Amazon Basin. The highlights here are a rather complicated web of tiny alleyways, crowded markets and delicious street stalls. Unlike other Chinatowns around the world, Bangkok’s is defiantly ungentrified, and getting lost in it is probably the best thing that could happen to you. The neighbourhood dates back to 1782 and relatively little has changed since then. You can still catch conversations in various Chinese dialects, buy Chinese herbal cures or taste Chinese dishes not available elsewhere in Thailand. Getting in and out of Chinatown is hindered by horrendous traffic but the area is a brief walk from Hualamphong Metro station.”

Although my time in Bangkok was very limited this trip, I decided to take a brief excursion to the Chinatown area, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to see it in depth. I had several hours to kill before I hopped aboard the overnight express to Nong Khai, so I dropped off my big bag at the luggage holding room at Hualamphong Railway Station and made the short walk (15 minutes) to Chinatown.

It’s easy to find the main road, Yaowarat–just look for the large gate marking the beginning of the area.

One of Chinatown’s main attractions is Wat Traimit, which is a short walk from the gate (I took the shot of the gate from the top of Traimit). It was on the right hand side of the road as I was walking down Yaowarat.

I wasn’t sure how much time I was going to spend browsing around the area, so I decided to visit the temple on the way back, if I had time.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have all that much time to spend in Chinatown, with its many shops, side streets and vendors’ stalls. It was extremely busy and crowded with shoppers and tourists, and walking was quite slow, although it’s probably faster than driving. Motor bikes would probably be the fastest way of traveling through the dense mass of traffic.

It’s a very popular place to buy gold, gems and other jewelry, but it appeared that, in the short time I spent there, you could buy just about anything you might be looking for. Here are a few items that caught my attention.

Traditional clothing.

Tassels

Fruit and vegetables.

Stuffed crab, anyone? Chinatown is renowned for it’s nighttime outdoor eating venues. Unfortunately, by nightfall I’d be on the train to Nong Khai. The next time I’m in Bangkok, I definitely want to visit this area at night.

Oh, and did I hear you say that you need a barber’s chair?

So, just about anything you need or want, you can probably find it here.

Yes, I did return to Wat Traimit and took the tour of the temple area. This post is getting rather long, so I’ll save the wat for next time. More later.

Vacation Time

It’s the end of the fall semester, so, as usual, I’ve been busy with final assessments, grading, paperwork, meetings and other duties. But soon, however, I’ll be vacationing in Laos (mainly) to visit with my friend Nai and his family. Korea’s weather is starting to turn wintry cold, so spending some time in a more tropical clime is very appealing, of course.

I’m not going for a long time–just a bit more than a few weeks. My Air China flight to Bangkok leaves next Monday around noon, and I’ll be back in Yeosu on January 5th. I got a pretty good price on the flight about a month and a half ago, but that price came with some long layover times in Beijing, five or so hours going and more than seven hours coming back. Going to Bangkok will be the worst leg of the trip. I’ll be leaving Yeosu on the 11 p.m. bus to Incheon Airport, which arrives around 4:30 in the morning. Since my flight doesn’t take off until around noon, I’ll have a long wait. Incheon, however, is one of the top rated airports in the world, so I don’t mind hanging around there for that amount of time. Then, I go to Beijing and have a wait of about 5 hours until I go to Bangkok. I don’t arrive in the “City of Angels” until around midnight. From there, I’ll take a taxi to my hotel, probably not getting to sleep until 2 a.m. A long day, indeed.

After goofing around in Bangkok for an all-too-short while, I’ll take the overnight train to Nongkhai on the evening of the 21st, arriving there the next day around 8:30 in the morning. I’ll spend a few days in Nongkhai with Nai, then we’ll cross the Friendship Bridge into Laos, and . . . hmmm, not really sure. We might head up to Vang Vieng or Luang Prabang, or we might decide to stay at his family residence for Christmas and New Year. Christmas in a Buddhist, Communist country–an interesting place to spend the holidays, to say the least.

Finally, after whatever adventures and strange situations that occur in Laos, I’ll take the train back to Bangkok and take a flight back to Incheon on the 4th of January, including another long layover in Beijing. Such is the cost of cheap airline tickets.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep you posted about the trip, so stay tuned for more later.