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A show with everything but Yul Brenner

October 2, 2012

New York to Kathmandu was a big culture shock. New York to Bangkok is as well, I imagine. But Kathmandu to Bangkok is enough to make one’s head explode. There are real similarities – the traffic is crazy and the traffic rules seem pretty undefined if they exist at all; the streets are filled with vendors; children try to sell you things or ask for money; and some aspects of the hotel are confusing. But they are also a study in contrasts. Where Kathmandu was crumbling, Bangkok is a neon city; Kathmandu exuded safety and a karma culture, Bangkok has signs everywhere warning of pickpockets; I couldn’t figure out the lights in my hotel room because they are so high-tech – in Kathmandu, I couldn’t figure them out, because of the frequent power cuts.

I met Seree, who asksd me to call him Mai, in the morning and we headed by train and water taxi to see the Royal Palace, the Emerald Buddha, the Reclining Buddha, and another temple. Each was more stunning than the last – although I was less than pleased that to really experience the last of them one had to climb 18 stories. Which I did. Very reluctantly. There were novice monks in their saffron robes, all under 16, and true believers on pilgrimages alongside tourists like me.

After having our fill of Buddhas, we headed to Chinatown, which was like every other Chinatown – bustling and loud with vendors selling all manner of unfamiliar foods. Mai bought us a fruit the name of which I never got. It was already sliced so I don’t even know what it looked like whole. The meat was color of mango and tasted like a stringy banana, but was really good. IT was past 1 and we both were hungry. He asked what I’d like and I said Thai noodles of some sort. “I know just the place,” came his replay. And a short monorail ride later we were at a food court in a shopping mall. But oh, the noodles. Chicken seemed the lest questionable (I couldn’t go for the boiled blood or port entail soups). It was super spicy, but so flavorful and filling. I sucked down a bottle of water to cool myself off as Mai disappeared. He came back with a bowl of shaved ice over lychee, pineapple, pomegranate, and sweet corn is a light syrup. It was a Thai take on an Italian Ice and the perfect end to the spicy meal.

After lunch and a couple more Buddhas, it was back to the hotel to shower and change before heading out to a special dinner theater evening that Mai had arranged for me. Siam Niramat is the Thai equivalent of going to a Medieval Castle or the Renaissance Faire, but it was great. Dinner was a Thai buffet in a brightly lit conference room. The guides were meant to sit on the sides as their clients ate, but I convinced Mai to eat with me (I couldn’t get him to let me buy him a beer, but I had one and it tasted great). After dinner we toured a replica of an ancient Thai village (suddenly we’re in Old Sturbridge), where I was given a blessing and a white string bracelet which I’m pretty sure will spell bad luck for me if I take it off.

Finally it was time for the show. Mai left me to go in alone and after bags were checked all cameras were confiscated. The show was a journey through Thailand’s provinces and history. It was a spectacle that would make the Met green with envy, but it was ultimately kind of dull. On stage there were at least 75 dancers, a river deep enough for the actors to dive into, flying women complete with pointy gold headpieces; and flesh eating demons. I couldn’t not think of the scene in King and I when they stage Small House of Uncle Thomas. It was all overblown and  overdone and all I wanted to do was go beck to the hotel. It did end well with an elephant parading through the center aisle, candle boats for the audience to float in the onstage river and best of all (take note Boston Pops peeps) a confetti cannon. I do love a confetti cannon!

I leave for Koh Samui early tomorrow morning for two days by myself on a beach. I haven’t been alone in nearly a month and its either going to be great or awful, but I can’t wait!

MAybe I’ll even find it in me to actually write about the trek while I’m there.

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  1. Tiffany permalink

    You’re not really alone. We are enjoying every moment with you. We’re just not there in person. xxx

  2. Bernadette permalink

    It’s been so wonderful to keep in touch through your blog. If you’re up to it, I can’t wait to hear about the trek. You are a brave soul!! Looking forward to having you back in the USA!

  3. Aunt Nancy permalink

    Kathleen–We’ll be happy to have you back home again but we are so going to miss these postings– sort of like not wanting come to the end of a really good book! love you lots

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