Ok - lots and lots to say about my first explorations but no way to put it all in one post.
Yesterday was the Queen's Birthday, which my taxi driver informed me is also called Mother's Day. She said that everyone takes their mom out to dinner, buys her flowers etc. Same same as here. ;) But she also said that first thing in the morning she went and prayed for her mom, for her to have a long long life. I thought that was really sweet.
So after I posted last night - by the way, it's 9:30am Wednesday here right now... but I think it's something like 7:30pm Tuesday Pacific Time. Anyway after I posted last night I went back to my room and rested for a bit, I think I took *another* shower. The water smells weird... I don't know if it's the plumbing or the water, but it's a bit disconcerting. I rested for a bit and realized it was entirely too early for me to go to bed so I decided to make another trip outside. It's so funny, I'm such a complete chicken - I would like walk down to the end of my street then turn around and make sure I could get back to my hotel, walk down the other end of the street - find the hotel again, walk 3/4 the way around a block then back-tracked to make sure I knew where I was. It's not all me being directionally challenged - it's hard to find the street signs and the streets aren't exactly laid out in a grid.
I made it out to the major road and walked along the moat of the city for a while (passing all kinds of markets and shops and a few street vendors). I found the east city gate. I heard music and saw people heading in that direction - I'm such a sheep, I automatically follow the herd! It turns out that there was a big celebration for the Queen/Mother's day. I was rather under dressed wearing cargo-esque pants and a tank top. Several women were all dressed up in silk suits - you know with the fancy woven borders on their skirts. Most of the other Thais were wearing jeans and light blue polo shirts. Apparently the Queen's favorite color is blue so that's what you do. Fortunately I was also in blue! People were buying flowers from a vendor along the side and bringing them up on this huge stage with big pictures of the Queen and presumably the royal family or something like that. It was very cool. I, of course, had no idea what the guy on stage was saying... and I think it probably was just the beginning of the ceremony. I didn't stick around.
I wandered around and found a little market where I bought a new journal - I didn't even attempt to haggle, I'll have to work up to that later. I also got food from a street vendor. He was making chicken (maybe chicken - it's best not to ask) kabobs on a little grill. It was really good, there was pineapple on the end and was basted in this really yummy sweet & tangy sauce. The thing is... for some retarded reason I thought the green thing was okra. Yeah... because the Thai are known for using okra in their kabobs. No - it was a jalepeno! Fortunately it wasn't a habenaro or anything so it was just really hot and didn't absolutely kill me. Whooo hooo! I'll be more careful about inspecting my food next time. Oh, and it really did taste like chicken whatever it was. The guy asked me where I was from and I told him Oregon - which of course they don't know... so I said "Seattle" and he nodded "oh Seattle!" That's what I told someone on the plane too. I said I was from Portland... near Seattle and he nodded "Seattle - on the west coast!" So that's how I'm answering that question from now on. It's just small talk, but it's funny how quickly I'm willing to deny my beloved town. =P
I didn't make it out to the Night Market... mostly I was concerned that I wouldn't make it home before it got dark. I'm not very afraid of crime...although it's probably never wise for a woman to walk home alone at night. Mostly I was concerned that I wouldn't recognize my street. It was all cloudy and rainy - I was soaked but it felt pretty good. I don't have a reliable time-keeping device (my cell phone can't connect to a network here, and I don't have a watch) so I have no idea what time it was, but it was probably no later than 6pm when I went home. I read a bit and then went to bed after it got dark. I woke up a couple of times but didn't get out of bed until the sun was up.
I had breakfast at a place close to my guest house... here's the thing... everything is like right there on my block - in less than 30 yards I had breakfast and am now in the internet cafe. I wimped out and had a very western breakfast - scrambled eggs, roll with jam, fresh fruit & tea. It was soooooo good though. I think they put coconut milk in the scrambled eggs. The cafe itself was charming - all the buildings are kinda small store-fronts, but the entire front of the building is open to the breeze so everything feels really open. Plus it's really green & lush here... the tropics you know. It's just different. No opening doors, no sequestering yourself from what's going on out in the street (some guys are doing repair work right outside the internet cafe) there's not really an *in* the store *outside* the store differentiation.
Ok - enough reflecting on what I'm doing... time to actually do some stuff. I need to get an adapter for my laptop and some sunscreen. Wish me luck!