Last Day in Bangkok, but I'll be back =)

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May 13th 2008
Published: June 21st 2017
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The Chao Phraya River in BangkokThe Chao Phraya River in BangkokThe Chao Phraya River in Bangkok

The flag here shows the emblem of the King. Have I mentioned how much the Thai people love their King? He is getting older now, in his 80's I think, and the Thai people are already devastated as the prospect of losing him. It reminds me a little of how the English loved Princess Dianna, only the love is pungent and palpable in an urgent sort of way even before any kind of tragedy.
Geo: 13.7308, 100.521

This entry is sort of disjointed. I'm leaving the country tomorrow, and sort of tying up some loose ends. Apologies in advance! =)

Thailand only gives US citizens a 30 day visa upon arrival, and mine expires today. So I've gotta get out of Dodge ASAP. I bought my ticket today to cross the border into Cambodia tomorrow. I'll have to pay a B500 ($15) fine at the border for overstaying my visa by a day, but what can you do.

I stayed an extra day so I could get both a Vietnamese and a Laotian Visa from the embassies here in Bangkok. (That's just how long my agents visa service took.) Much easier than standing in lines at the borders; just pay a fee and give'm your passport and it magically shows back up with the visas in a few days. I'm not even sure I want to go to Vietnam and Laos, they weren't on my original plan, but I want to keep my options open for my departure from Cambodia. This way I can travel out of Cambodia in any direction that takes my fancy. My plan now is to come back to Thailand with a fresh new 30 day visa thank you very much, but we'll see what happens. I've only seen southern and central Thailand so far, and I really want to visit the hill towns in the north, so I think I'll do that on this new visa when I get back in the country.

On a totally other note...
The Siam Niramit Show:
It's too bad I don't have any photos of maybe one of the greatest sights I saw in Bangkok and that's because no cameras were allowed in. Tonight I went to see The Siam Show. A huge, theatrical, Broadway-caliber, show depicting the history of Thailand culture and folk lore. It was fantastic. The stage was billed as the largest in the world, and even in the Guinness Book of World Records as such (so they said, but I'd believe it). If a trip to Bangkok is in your future, this is SO a must see. The show gave me goosebumps more than once. This site has some pretty good pictures of the stage and is worth the look:

Outside Siam show theater complex, just beyond the Disneyland sized parking lot filled with air-conditioned tour buses, there is a faux Thai traditional
village complete with mock rice patty fields in various stages of growth, a mini-wandering river with a bridge, and a dozen Thai huts with faux villagers demonstrating traditional village life. It's all a bit surreal, and seems odd to walk though when you know you are in the middle of the city, but it's actually done very well - just like the show.
It reminded me a little of Vegas where you can take a gondola ride in Venice and goto the top of the Eiffel tower within 100meters. Surreal, but I suppose if you've never been to the actual places being mocked, and you don't really want to, it's a pretty satisfying impression of the real thing. But totally not the same as the real thing, how could it be?

And another note...
Random thing happened at 6am one morning: My hotel room overlooks Rambuttri Street which resides between a monastery to the north east and a temple to the west. In the early morning hours a slow single-file procession of monks, each walking alone in silence, pass from east to west from the monastery to the temple. They look so serene and exotic in their beautiful saffron robes and merit bowls. A few times I even saw them receiving merit (food or money) and a deep bow from the merchants on the street who are open that early. This particular morning I saw an interesting dichotomy that struck me. As the monks were walking down the deserted street, I watched as two lady boys (both with a pair of dangerously high heels swinging in their fingers) giggled and strolled barefoot down the middle of the street against the flow of monks in procession. I guess they were heading home after a long nights work on Kho San Road. Of all the things my mind could have reflected on with such a rich scene, the thing that popped in there was, "Well there's something you don't see everyday". =)

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


The nice tailor who fixed my zipperThe nice tailor who fixed my zipper
The nice tailor who fixed my zipper

Services like this can be found all over the metropolitan streets of Bangkok. I got a pair of pants back from the laundry service and the zipper was broken. I brought them to this guy, and even with no English - just sign language - we did business. He put in a new zipper and even fixed a rip I hadn't noticed all for less than $3.
A typical street side cafeA typical street side cafe
A typical street side cafe

I took this picture and the previous one of the tailor from the same seat where I had lunch. He fixed my zipper while I waited and I had a nice dish of chicken, veg and rice while I waited.
Siam Show Village: Thai traditional origamiSiam Show Village: Thai traditional origami
Siam Show Village: Thai traditional origami

Actually being done by a faux villager. If this were real (and it was 100 years ago) it'd really look a lot like this.
Siam Show Village:  Silk being reeledSiam Show Village:  Silk being reeled
Siam Show Village: Silk being reeled

There are a bunch of silk factories open to tourists in Thailand. I didn't visit one, but another blogger did and posted some great pics here if you are intersted in learning more:
A faux villager demonstrating their constructionA faux villager demonstrating their construction
A faux villager demonstrating their construction

Actually quite a nice and informative man. He showed me the puppets in detail, and how he has to remove all the har from the skin and then uses these insturments to punch holes. He said it takes about a month to make one. Here is some more info on Thai puppets:
Siam Show Village: Elephant guard at the doorwaySiam Show Village: Elephant guard at the doorway
Siam Show Village: Elephant guard at the doorway

I just thought he was a cute thing to have by the front door, bowing to welcome you.

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