December 4-5, 2007
Our first task upon returning to Bangkok was to get the Indian visas issued. We decided that both of us didn’t need to trek across the city to drop off and pick up passports, so Ted set out at about 7:30 to head to the Indian Embassy. The hours for passport drop off are 8:30-10:00 and pick up from 4-5. The plan was to get a Motorcycle taxi to the closest sky train station (their Metro, but it only covers a small part of the city now) and then take it to the visa building. MC taxis are about the only thing that moves during rush hour(s) traffic. Basically, they carry you on the back and weave between lanes, on to sidewalks, down back alleys and anywhere they can fit to get you to your destination. We observed that all of the MC taxi drivers are young men. Our hope is that it is because they eventually graduate to being tuk tuk drivers and then real taxi drivers and it is not due to the mortality rates. Well, Ted decided this was a reasonable risk, Sheree was unsure. The first problem came when after 3 attempts, none of the MC taxi drivers would take him where he wanted to go. We are still not sure why, they just said no. So, he tried a regular taxi. After sitting for about an hour and a half and getting about 3 blocks, the driver finally found a way to break loose and found an alternated route. Ted got to the station at about 9:30. The sky train was efficient and he arrived at the Indian visa office at 7 minutes before 10. The return process was better, sky train then an MC taxi from right outside the station to the hotel. The process was repeated later in the afternoon with MC taxis and sky trains in both directions. Ted lived to tell of it. We ate, swam in our luxury pool, read and went to bed.
The next day was the King’s birthday. The preparations were amazing. The money spent to decorate the city must have been substantial. Every street was decorated, not just parade routes. All the locals wore yellow shirts (the royal color), had flags and lit candles in the evening. We went out to the main street near our hotel to watch. Traffic had come to a complete standstill (surprise) and the street was completely filled with people with their candles and flags. There was a big screen on one corner so you could watch the King at every moment of the day and periodically the locals would break in to song (we think the national anthem). We thought the King was to drive down the street we were on and we still don’t know if he did or not. Too many people to tell. At one point, we were scared to death when fireworks were set off (officially) from an area about 100 feet from us, right in the middle of the city with thousands of people around. The fireworks were amazing and we had never been so close to a fireworks demonstration like this. It was fun to watch but we were starting to become a bit bit fearful as flaming balls were falling out of the sky into trees, onto cars and onto peoples heads. We were fortunate not to have anything singed, but we found lots of firework debris in our hair after all. One woman right near us got some of it in her eye and headed off looking for help. Good luck! Following the fireworks everyone headed off in various directions. On our way back we spotted our first bug snack seller. She had about 10 different types of stir fried and seasoned bugs, from cockroaches to grasshoppers to maggots for sale. We have photos to verify, but even the adventurous eater Ted didn’t opt for the delictable snacks. Now he wishes he had. You never know when you might be in a dire situation and need that protein and besides, how bad could they be, they are stir fried and seasoned afterall. Also, for our friend Jennifer’s sake, someone she trusted needs to try new foods before she will go for them. If she had been there, maybe we would be able to tell you more about how they tasted. Tomorrow off to India.
posted Monday December 2007