Archive for April 13th, 2007

Dear Taxi Driver

April 13, 2007

April 14, 2007

Dear Taxi Driver,

I feel like I need to apologize to you for a few things. First, I’m sorry for having doubted your agility and strength. But when you tried to lift my suitcase (which, if you’re honest, you’ll admit was only slightly smaller than you are), I was sincerely worried (and partly for your well-being). However, you proved yourself by being able to hoist not one, but two, filled-to-maximum-capacity suitcases into the trunk of your “taxi meter”.

Secondly, I should apologize for the tone I used with you when you tried to load our suitcases into your car. I still maintain that your sense of spatial reasoning is severely askew as evidenced by the way you tried to put two large-ish suitcases, end-to-end, in your truck. I think both of us can admit that a car with a trunk the size of a grocery store shopping cart would not be able to hold two such suitcases arranged thusly. But bravo for having tried. Repeatedly. Without having changed anything

Thirdly, despite my doubts about the ability of your obviously well-used bungee cord to hold your trunk closed and its ability to keep our suitcases in your trunk, you were right. It held. Miracously. Even through the endless ski-launch-esque bumps on the road to the airport at breakneck speeds. I do believe it happened in part to my positive thinking and continuous craning of my neck to make sure I hadn’t lost all of our trinkets and dirty laundry. But you do deserve credit for having had the faith to use your over-stretched rubber bands in the first place.

Finally, I’m sorry for all the names I called you, both to your face and under my breath. Clearly you were at a disadvantage as you don’t speak (or even seem to remotely understand) the language (despite the large-ish sign on the side of your car that reads: I love foreigners; I speak English) and you were mislead by the look of terror which could easily have looked like a smile (although my people call it a ‘grimace’). Regardless, I apologize for all of that. I don’t really want to see those sores all over, as I might have mentioned (repeatedly). And please apologize to your mom for me.

Despite all that’s happened we both got what we wanted/needed. I got to the airport (relatively) unscathed and with all of my luggage. You got several good giggles.

best,

Frank V
Tourist

Songkran and Bye Bye Bangkok

April 13, 2007

Today mark’s the last day of the Thai year. April 13-15 is when the Thai New Year is celebrated. Today (13th) is the first day of the old year. The 14th is some sort between period between the two and the 15th is the first day of the new year. Originally this time was meant as a time for people, many of whom left their small towns to work in the big city, to return to their ancestral homes and families to visit and pay their respects. Many people go with their family and spend the day at their local wat (temple), eat, buy food and robes for the monks, and ‘clean’ the wat by throwing water on the buddha to clean him. This whole splashing water on buddha was transfered to sprinkling water on your friends and family as a sign of respect.

And now it’s turned into a country-wide water fight! We got our first warnings from Sylvie’s and Jean-Luc’s neighbor who said she wasn’t leaving her apartment for the next three days. I figured she was just exaggerating (the French and those who speak French have a propensity for exaggerating).

So we headed out today to see what all the fuss was about. The first thing we noticed was that Bangkok had been deserted. There was about 20% of the traffic that we had seen the other mornings. It was almost eerie.

We took a boat tour of the khlong (canals) on a long boat:

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The tour took us through the canals off the Chao Krung River. We got to see many examples of traditional Thai houses, from the really nice ones that I’d like to live in:

nicetraditionalthaihouse.jpg

and

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To the ones I could actually afford to live in:

traditionalthaihouse.jpg

(Notice their Spirit House! Even on the khlong…)

Then all hell broke loose.

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Well, at least a a water fight. Everywhere. There wasn’t a spot on my body that wasn’t wet by the time we escaped from left the khlong.

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And it continued throughout the WHOLE FREAKING CITY!

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Look!  They’re selling water on the street to throw on people!

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In this photo you can see the extreme to which it’s taken. People set up stations along the road to ambush the tuktuks (uncovered taxis) and people rent pick-up trucks, load them up with containers of water, and drive down the streets soaking people. It was a hoot…

For about an hour. After eight hours of dodging down side streets to avoid the water terrorists, we finally took a taxi to get home. Apparently the water carnage ends at 6pm, so we’re going to go to The Dome to view Bangkok at night from up high.

Unfortunately, today is also the last day of our vacation. It’s been an amazing vacation and I still have so much to show and tell about. Maybe I’ll get much of that done on the 20 hour flight home… Talk to you soon from the comfort of my own home!


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