Sunday, July 4, 2010


(random 4 ft monitor next to the canal!!!)

(Okay, so most Buddhas in Thailand are guilded, but they claim that this Buddha, the golden buddha, is solid gold! That's 12,000 lb of Gold! Although I'm not sure at this point whether I believe it or not...)

Bangkok has been a bit of a roller coaster. Amazing images, incredibly historical, rich culture, and somewhat predatory of tourists. Every thing you could think of to spend your money on offer you amazing deals, almost too good. Then when you decide to transact you have to make sure you get everything that was promised! I spent my first day just expecting that I would get everything I was promised, which did not happen! Being very firm has helped. Aside from getting ripped off a couple of times, I've seen some pretty incredible stuff....

Tuk Tuks, which are the three-wheeled, moped like scooters putting around Bangkok are really cute and they aren't something we see in the U.S., so of course most Westerners want to take them, however they have their own agenda. Fashion houses that custom tailor clothing, jewelry and gem distributors as well as some restaurants give the Tuk Tuk drivers comissions if they bring tourists to their shop, even if we don't buy anything. This means that getting to where YOU actually want to go in a tuk tuk is damn near impossible. Dave and I found this out the hard way on our first day. Even tricker the taxi drivers speak little to no english, while the tuk tuk drivers speak perfect english. ARG! Some have even partnered with very well spoken Thais who claim to all be trusted professionals (we've been offered directions by teachers, lawyers and doctors! Who knew there were so many just floating around Bangkok streets!) Its literally impossible to pull out a map on the street without the tuk-tuk drivers and their accomplises running over and trying to help. And they lie their faces off! No matter where you are, they will point you in the direction of one of these three main places. We literally had someone draw on a map these two places on a map in the direction of a temple we wanted to see, but when we looked on a map afterwards they were nowhere near where they had written it! Solution?...just take taxis..It takes a few tries to find one that knows where you are going with some simple english and map pointing, but eventually you'll find one and they are so incredibly cheap its worth it.

Whew! Okay. well, aside from that I have had a VERY good first few days. Our first excersion day we ended up in the production district, which I think was one of my favorite things I've seen yet. Its near one of the first temples built in the old city of Bangkok, so it makes sense that this is where a lot of production took place. Store after store filled with wood to be cut to order, different types of and sizes of metal, and of course my favorite.....the TOOOLS!! ooh la la...

I think these Thais must think I'm crazy since I don't want to just go shop and buy jewelry, but I just loved this district. Another street I sought that ended up being quite sketcky and I'm glad we were there during the day is the Soi Ban Baat alleyway. A baat is one of the few possessions that a Thai buddist monk can own. It is a bowl in monks are allowed to beg for food with. Early in the morning it is common to see the monks walking around and showing the bowls, which are quickly filled with food. The bowl is constructed of 8 bands of metal, which represent the 8 fold path of Buddhism.

The craziest part is that these bowl are steel, not copper! So they are somehow raising steel. I think it might be stainless, which is even crazier. Per his images the only time they put into the fire is when they oxidize the outside and cover with laquer, so I guess its just a lot of strong arm work...This guy was a hoot. He pulled out a photo album of him with what he said were current Thai movie stars, calls himself a bit of a celebrity. He was so nice. I tried to show him my tattoo so he would know I was a maker too, it took a few tries but once he saw it, he flipped. He grabbed my by the wrist and dragged me around and showed me off to the other was pretty cool to catch up with Bangkok metalsmiths...and just in case you are wondering...they are doing well. :)

So later today Dave and I are latching onto a 2 week group tour, and I'm actually kind of excited about it. Its been kinda tough on our own in Bangkok, figuring out the scams and wondering around the (rather gross) under belly of Bangkok. We have one more night in Bangkok, then catching a night train to Laos, over to Vietnam and then up to China....I'm not sure when I'll have internet access next, so we will see...

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