Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Around the World: Bangkok and Beyond

January 10, 1992

Started the morning with guided tour of the floating market.  It was such an interesting experience to have a store floating on the water.  Little canoe-like boats, mostly containing fruit, paddled up to the tour boat.  I didn't buy anything because all the fruit was already either peeled or cut and anything that has come into contact with the local water is a recipe for illness.  That, and the fact that the waterway is also an open sewer was all the reason I needed to be cautious.

Bangkok Floating Market
Photo by bangkok.com

I did manage to do a little shopping on the streets around the hotel, and getting used to the currency.  Up until now, prices have been fairly close to what I would pay in Canadian dollars, a couple cents less or more, but nothing that required any substantial amount of math.  Thai currency is 25 baht to 1 Canadian dollar.  It's strange seeing a piece of clothing for 200 baht, then haggling the vendor down to 100 baht, and realizing the item only costs $4.

Tonight, we are headed south and then to an island in the Gulf of Thailand called Ko Samui.  The plan was to take the train, but tickets for first and second class are sold out.  There are third class seats available, but tourists are apparently not permitted to travel in third class.  Tracey talked her parents into investigating other options at a travel store we had seen on Khao San Road.  Harvey went in to speak with the sales agent and came out of the store with bus tickets.

Khao San Road
Photo by traverati

Khao San Road is where backpackers go to find cheap accommodations, inexpensive restaurants, and travel arrangements.  It's touristy and crowded, with the same noise and chaos that is uniquely Bangkok.   

We were told to wait at the store front for the bus that was due to arrive at 5p.m.  As the hour approaches and we are all expecting to see a bus arriving, one of the store employees comes out and explains that we should now follow him to the bus departure point.  He guides us on a long walk, through alleys and streets, which really irritated Harvey and Anna, who had to carry and drag their suitcases behind them.

This bus ride ends early tomorrow morning in Surat Thani, a town on the south west coast of the Gulf of Thailand, where we will catch the ferry to Ko Samui.  In the meantime, I have a really loud movie in Thai to drown out all of the other sounds on the bus, as I attempt to find a comfortable position to sleep in the coach seat, snuggled in under the complimentary blanket.

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"Not when truth is dirty, but when it is shallow, does the enlightened man dislike to wade into its waters."
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

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