Ok... vacation has more officially begun. I'm in Bangkok and staying in backpacker-land, just off Khao San Road (the ultimate backpacker land). It's so weird, when I entered the street it felt a bit like Disney Land - everything was trying just a little too hard to be 'authentic'. OH! And my very first impression was "Where'd all these white people come from?" I mean, I see foreigners in the malls sometimes, but this was like more white people than I'd seen in one place in I don't know how long. And seeing white men with similarly aged white women - that always gives me a double take at first.
I got checked into my guesthouse, it's cheap and clean enough. The bathroom is minuscule, but the upside of living in Rayong for so long is that the absence of birds, geckos and/or cockroaches can be considered an upgrade. I wandered around and peeked in a few of the shops. I'm not letting myself buy anything yet though - saving up for Chiang Mai & Hoi An, Vietnam.
There are a plethora of travel agencies around here - every hotel and every other shop seems to have one. I very quickly and easily arranged for my trip to Ayuthaya (ancient Thai city, temple ruins etc.) for tomorrow, and a trip to Ko Phangan (tropical island in the south) starting the next day. Could I have done it cheaper on my own - who knows? There can be a lot of pressure to travel 'off the beaten path' and to discover the 'hidden gems' of a country. But honestly - if living in Rayong wasn't 'off the beaten path' enough I don't know what is. And I've experienced the hidden gems of going to the best noodle cart in the city with a student, and cooking Thai food with a Thai family in their home. I've decided to go with quick & easy now. And I'm willing to pay a bit more for the convenience and have no qualms with following the well tread 'banana pancake trail'.*
After arranging my tours I freshened up and decided to get some dinner. I found an Indian food place around the corner and perused the menu outside. As I was looking, another woman - a bit older than I - came up and started looking too. We exchanged a few words and I decided not to eat alone. "Do you have a friend with you?" I asked her - gah! I've become Thai! But she was alone, so I asked if she wanted to join me.
Oh it was awesome. First off - Indian food is sharing food - so two dishes are always better than one. But also - she was incredible. She teaches elementary school in the south of Thailand and told me all about the violence and how the Chinese mafia (who'd a thunk it?) had stepped in to quell the violence at one point, so her city was marginally safer now. She's a weaver and a quilter so we chatted about textiles. And she's lived in Laos and Vietnam as well. She gave me a list of places to see when I go to Laos. It was so nice to have company for dinner, and someone so like-minded. I swear my soul is a 60 year old retiree.
I still have a cold but I'm feeling better now. I have the next stage of my Moderately Magical Mystery Tour planned. Yay for me!
TAG: Code Mango
*Hmmm.... feeling defensive Rebel? What's that about? I don't know. Reading too many travel guides I think. ;)
Oh, and because I know you were all very concerned about my leg-hair situation... when I was in Rayong dropping off my computer I went to my normal waxing gal. Fortunately I don't know enough Thai to know if she was saying 'serves you right for going to someone else!' - but she got me well sorted, and my legs are now beach-worthy. Yay!