Bangkok & Hua Hin - By Melanie
10.19.10 - 11.22.10
Thailand is a mere two hour flight from India, but it feels like we are in an entirely new world. Bangkok is ultra modern and squeaky clean (we were elated by the cleanliness, along with hot water showers and toilet paper in public bathrooms). The people are shorter, smile more, speak far less English, and wear stylish western clothes. We arrived at 4:30pm, sailed through immigration, luggage collection and out to the taxi stand. In India as soon as we stepped off a bus we were swarmed by frantic rickshaw drivers desperate for our fare. I laughed out loud when I saw all of the Thai taxi drivers patiently waiting in line for their next customers, rows of neon pink Toyota cabs neatly parked behind them.
Our family friends, the Bakers, lived just outide of Bangkok for 11 years while working at the International School of Bangkok. Daniel Baker happened to be back in Thailand for a visit and was up for travelling with us for few days. We got some vague directions to the hotel he booked for us and jumped into the cab. The sun set as we cruised into Bangkok proper. Buddhist temples and skyscrapers mingled across the neverending skyline. We were all riding high, just overwhelmed with excitement to be in a new country, until we ran smack into a rush hour deadlock. We did not move an inch for 45 minutes. Had we any idea of where we were going, we would have climbed out of the cab and walked. The car finally started moving (stop and roll 15 feet before stopping again) and 30 minutes later we arrived at the hotel (we think about 3 blocks from where we first hit traffic). Throughout the entire traffic jam, we did not hear one honking car horn. Not one! Coming from India, where incessant (and generally unnecessary) honking is a rite of the road, the silence that blanketed the Thai traffic jam seemed almost uncanny.
Dan took us to a glitzy shopping mall so we could eat in its swanky food court. I have been looking forward to the wide rice noodles for months and was enamored with my meal. Brie and Swhite ordered noodles and GREEN SALAD. Eating crisp, fresh vegetables (with no fear of them being washed in dirty water) was practically thrilling.
After dinner we met up with some of Dan's friends from school at a posh bistro-pub. Comparing ourselves to the clean cut and hip Thai style, all three of us felt out of place in our hippie/India traveler apparel. Our first order of business on day two in Thailand was to buy clothes that we felt cute in. After seven weeks of being dirty, grimey, and fully covered from shoulders to knees, wearing skirts and tanktops is completely liberating. Much more so than I would have expected, donning clothes that exhibit personality and style infused us with renewed energy.
We had delicious street food (I LOVE RICE NOODLES!) and visited the Jim Thompson House, the traditional Thai home of an American who made it big in Thailand by exporting silk. He opened his home to the public as a museum, and then disappeared into the Malaysian jungle. Interesting tidbit: framed in one of Thompson's rooms was an astrological reading warning those born in the year of horse of the age 61. Jim Thompson was born in the year of the horse and was 61 when he vanished into the jungle.
On Wednesday evening we took a shared minivan from Bangkok to Hua Hin, where the Bakers have a condo. Brie and I spent much of the 2 hour ride listening to a Thai Survival Phrases podcast. We were whispering quizzes to eachother in the van, being as discreet as possible, but we could tell the passengers in the front seat were amused by our efforts.
It was so nice to be in a HOME again! With comfy beds, silverware, and couches to lounge on. The view from the 15th story condo balcony:
Dan arrived the next afternoon. We rented scooters and rode out to a beach south of Hua Hin.
The water was the warmest natural body of water I've ever been in! It felt fantastic! The entire time we were in the water there was a group of little Thai boys (maybe aged 4 to 6) waving excitedly at us. Once they got our attention, the pulled down their pants do shake their privates.
Our last night was spent dancing to American pop songs by a Thai cover band. There were actually quite good! The seven piece band was energetic, stylish and even got the crowd involved. Tecno dance beats seem to rule everywhere but the US so it was so fun to rock out to some Katy Perry "California Gurls".