Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Post expanded 4 days after initial post. All kinds of computer challenges, so apologies for incomplete post.

The flight to Bangkok was only about 1/3 full and the airport was pretty much derted except for security people and pretty girls holding signs for taxis, etc. We've been through this airport many times at all hours of the day and night and have never seen it like this. Strange feeling.

We had initially planned on the usual slow procession through immigration and security, just staying at the airport for a few hours until morning, and then on to the guesthouse. It all went so fast, though that we called Suk 11 (pronounce souk) GH - they had a room and we took a taxi into town. We walked up a little lane, through a lot of plants and into the Suk 11 reception area - old teak walls, altars, tapestries, farming implements, big water pots and all sorts of assorteds everywhere. Much of the place is put together from traditional Thai houses, like the steep steps/ladder leading to the first floor. We were on the 3rd floor, past more stuff (including a large altar and improbably, an old rickshaw), along a wooden walkway between the walls of old houses (now GH rooms) and finally into our nice - not to mention aircon - room. Central Market (Dallas) sweet spicy Cajun mix and water for a 1 or 2 am dinner and fall on out. Photo: entrance to Suk 11

In the morning we went downstairs for breakfast of coffee, bread/rolls, papaya, pineapple, curd, preserves - sat with a young Australian couple and had a nice conversation.

We decided to look for another place. Suk 11 is hip and super nice, but the stairs were too much for us. I took off walking and came up with two contenders. Leslie and I talked and I went to register at the nicer place, but as I walked in, realized that there was a huge construction site next door, so I walked around to Soi 11 and registered at the slightly tatty Miami (pronounce mee ami). Lonely Planet says of the Miami, "Bearing the mark of the GI days in miore ways than its name (i.e., still many prostitutes there), the Miami has a strange down-and-out charm. The kathoey desk clerk, poolside lizards and lumpy beds ..." So here we are, as happy as two geckos on a wall.

We walked out and got on the Skytrain to Central, where we went to a food court for a late lunch: ground pork with garlic and chilis (the same that we stunk up Stephan's apartment with a year ago), rice with red and green curries, peanuts, water. Back to the hotel for a nap and then back out for dinner from street vendors: pork with chilis, pad Thai, satay, mango with sticky rice and coconut.

Leslie told me the prostitutes aren't allowed to use the lift up from the lobby. It's the stairs for them.

Slept well, except for, you know. Breakfast was an almond roll with peanut butter, mango, sticky rice ... When I walked out on the street this morning around 0730, there were about 30 people (most westerners) sitting at little tables, drinking and having loud drunken and no doubt speed (ya-baa) conversations with one another and themselves and some looking pretty stuperous. Whew, seems like a tough lifestyle. Photo: inside Suk 11

Later we got BBQ chicken from a street vendor for Leslie for breakfast. saw 4 of the party peeps drinking beer and talking talking talking in the Miami coffee shop.

We made a Siam run - today being our first full speed ahead Thai food day: tom yum (hot and sour soup), green curry, pad Thai, Chiang Mai sausage, pad see euw, chicken satay, pork satay, mango, sticky rice (I know, it's a sickness, it's out of control, and I don't care). Next day, green papaya salad, more noodles, more satay, on and on.

Tuesday, up earlysame thing for breakfast. Leslie went downstairs and witnessed a screaming desk clerk berating a guest. Taxi to airport and on to Vietnam.

This time around Bangkok was mostly a place to rest and to feast. We were tired and BK is incredibly difficult to get around in - it's one of the world's megacities, completely unplanned, and barely regulated. Over the years we've been to most of the temples and other sites, so rest, eat, more rest.

Leslie (an email): We are settled in Bangkok and happy to have been able to complete this leg of the trip. Bangkok is a major connecting point over here and it's hard to go forward without connecting here. We stayed the 1stnight (midnight to 9:00 am) at Suk 11 recommended by David and his 2 traveling friends Ben and Magera. It was really friendly andcomfortable but we were on the 3rd or 4th floor in the birds' nest with no lift so coming and going was difficult. Hauling the bags is a major production even tho we're traveling lighter than the last trip -but Suk 11 is for bare bones backpackers (we were at least 40 yearsolder than the other travelers) so we moved to the Miami Hotel aroundthe corner and plan to stay put here. The air conditioning works well and the hotel is almost empty - tourists are avoiding Bangkok because of the problems at the airport so most hotels and other related industries are really suffering. The + side is for folks like us who are getting a comfortable bargain priced room and not having to stomach the groups of "sex tourists" so well-known here.

So far it's been the best trip to Bangkok in recent past. The weather is cooler than we've ever experienced here and in Hong Kong- hope springs eternal that it will be that way in Cambodia which is 1 hot place! This morning I'm sitting by a patio door at the computer with a cool breeze blowing away the mosquitos - so nice! And the street vendors are already grilling chicken and fixing mango and sticky rice, Charles' favorite so I think that's what we're having for breakfast. The food here is very cheap and safe to eat (not so the water) and some of the best in the world. We are next door to a Family Mart where Charles can get 2 cans of Nescafe Expresso for 22 Baht,about 60 cents to go with these other treats. Photo: papaya salad with satay sideways - what can I say?
You are not expected to read all of this - when I email I use it as a way to journal so that Charles can include mine in his blogs - so slow and lazy when it comes to typing! Hope all is well at home. Things are great here and we fly to Hanoi on Tuesday so are hoping the airport situation has been completely resolved. The Thai king celebrated his 81st birthday Friday so it should be stable until the festivities are over. However, he is gravely ill and cannot speak on national radio so soon there will be some sort of transfer of power to the Crown Prince or Princess who will be handed the problems to sort out. I love you all and know you're busy preparing for Christmas. We'll bein Phnom Penh with David for Christmas - it doesn't get any better than that for us, YEA! Love, Leslie

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