Thailand 2011 — Part 3 – Temples, Outdoor Markets

2 June 2011

wpid-DSC01379-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgApproaching Bangkok’s city center

wpid-DSC01380-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThese highways were built somewhat recently, a godsend compared to the maddening gridlock I remember back in the mid 90s. Because traffic flows more freely, pollution at the street level doesn’t feel quite as sickening.

wpid-DSC01382-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThe Civic with different tail lights and a BMW 5-series to its right.
BMW’s presence here is much greater than it used to be, but it still pales in comparison to Mercedes-Benz. I told my brother that if he saw a Cadillac, I’d give him $50. If he got a picture, I’d give him $20 more. I think I’ll be holding on to my money.

wpid-DSC01385-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThere’s a cell phone somewhere on that Samsung billboard.

wpid-DSC01389-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgI think we approached the city on highway 7? My phone’s crummy GPS kept putting me in Los Angeles.

wpid-DSC01391-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgAmerican Standard! A huge billboard for toilets. A lot of the old-fashioned porcelain holes are being slowly replaced by Western-style upright flush toilets.

wpid-DSC01393-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgNissan Cefiro (Maxima/I35)

wpid-DSC01394-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThat’s a Ford SUV of some sort up there.

wpid-DSC01397-2011-08-6-13-03.jpg’Lolyers’ Council. Check out the red E34 BMW.

wpid-DSC01398-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgWhite dude staying cool. Americans and Europeans are starting to look weird to me. I guess they’ve always looked weird, but I never noticed until they were singled out as a minority.

wpid-DSC01399-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgRoundabout. Apparently some political protests took place here a few months earlier.

wpid-DSC01402-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgAnother sharp-looking W124 Benz

wpid-DSC01404-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgAt the King’s Palace. Out of respect, they ask that people not wear sleeveless shirts, shorts, short skirts, overly tight pants, overly tight shirts, or just about anything that isn’t a basic sleeved shirt and long pants. My brother, sister, and stepdad went inside to buy some ugly-ass parachute pants.

wpid-DSC01407-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThe big temple that the King worships at.

wpid-DSC01410-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThe pants are white Dockers, acquired on sale for only $30 at Macy’s. That month-long road trip I took earlier in the year caused me to gain a dozen pounds, unfortunately, so the pants aren’t fitting as comfortably as they should. I suspect that through a combination of diarrhea and sweat, I’ll lose it all by the time I get home.
Left to right: Uncle, stepdad, sister, me, brother (behind me. looking down), grandmother, cousin, aunt, mom, brother.

wpid-DSC01412-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgAmericans and other foreigners pay more for entry than Thais. I started speaking English so the tour guide caught on that I wasn’t a Thai citizen (I haven’t been since 1997) and charged me extra.

wpid-DSC01413-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgOur licensed tour guide. He’s 74 with a solid sense of humor.

wpid-DSC01415-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgCheck out the architecture. Its so obsessively ornate it’s almost Catholic.

wpid-DSC01416-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMy mom told me I used to run around here as a toddler.

Its effing hot and I’m dripping like a rain cloud.

wpid-DSC01419-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMom had me get a candle, flower, incense, and a gold foil to make a blessing. I’ve come to really despise these tedious rituals, so to appease her I lit the incense, lit the candle, placed everything where they were supposed to go, affixed the gold foil to the statue, and got the out of the way.

wpid-DSC01420-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThe tour guide said this was something along the lines of “the biggest buddha statue.” I’m sure there’s some wacky character somewhere in the world who has built a larger one, but I took what he said to mean this was the most culturally significant.

wpid-DSC01421-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgWhen you go inside, you have to remove your shoes and sit on the floor with your feet facing away from the statue, as pointing your feet at anyone of higher esteem (or a religious symbol) is considered disrespectful. I told my mom my knees weren’t going to tolerate it and walked out. My left knee was acting up again, and I hate sitting on the floor with my legs folded behind me — its ridiculous and uncomfortable. I think its time for Thais to adopt church pews.

wpid-DSC01423-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgStunning detail. It borders on silly, which is how I feel about the Cathedral Basilica in St Louis. Its beautiful if you stand far away, but up close it has the same impact as 30″ spinners on a pink Escalade.
Still, you have to admire the amount of labor and level of devotion that went into putting this together.

wpid-DSC01424-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgFrom far away its visually stunning. As someone who prefers minimalist architecture, this feels like staring at the sun.

Photos weren’t permitted inside, but I got to see the king’s throne. It was elaborate, ornate, and way over the top. A free and modern society with a monarchy is so… dated. The throne room was air conditioned, so I was reluctant to leave.

wpid-DSC01425-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgLike the British, the palace guards must stand completely still.

wpid-DSC01427-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMy uncle.

wpid-DSC01428-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgLand Cruiser

wpid-DSC01429-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgSome marching exercise of some sort.

wpid-DSC01432-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThis is a reception building. President Clinton was here in 1996. Elaborate shows and dances were performed in the square. Personally, I find such displays to be weird, creepy, and undemocratic. Some people take pride in them. So be it.

wpid-DSC01435-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMore guards.

wpid-DSC01436-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgFrom left to right (front): My brother, my sister, my grandmother.

wpid-DSC01439-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgA busy intersection

wpid-DSC01441-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgWalking across the street. The crosswalk was broken so we basically risked death. I put my hand up to try and get the traffic to stop.

wpid-DSC01446-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgwpid-DSC01448-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgWent to Au Bon Pain across the street for pastries and vanilla shakes.

wpid-DSC01449-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThose idiots sitting in the doorway blocking everyone are vendors trying to make money off of tourists. They were selling Chinese accordion fans, pictures, drawings, and other nonsense. I shoved one on the way in (making it look accidental of course) and intentionally dropped a piece of my cinnamon bun on the floor next to one of them as I walked by. They had the gall to act annoyed. THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FOR BLOCKING THE DOOR, MORONS.

wpid-DSC01450-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgWe met up with my cousin’s aunt. My first car was a Sentra like this but in white.

wpid-DSC01454-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgwpid-DSC01453-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgSome military buildings

wpid-DSC01456-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgA Toyota Crown

wpid-DSC01461-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgA Corolla taxi with ugly-ass frog eyes.

wpid-DSC01462-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgA Nissan Teana (Maxima)

wpid-DSC01465-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgAn Acura [Honda] Legend!

wpid-DSC01467-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgA railyard full of retired passenger cars.

wpid-DSC01468-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMy little cousin got excited upon seeing it, and actually so did I.


wpid-DSC01477-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgPeople in this country have pretty good teeth.

wpid-DSC01478-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgNissan dealer.

wpid-DSC01479-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgI dont know what this is, a mall?
[Big C is a chain of Wal-Mart-style discount superstores with clothes, groceries, electronics, and darn near everything else.]

wpid-DSC01480-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgNissan Sunny

wpid-DSC01481-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgwpid-DSC01483-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgA Sangyong Stavic, I believe. Made in Korea.


wpid-DSC01486-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgNot sure what’s going on in this ad.
[We were there during the elections. This guy’s signs were attention grabbers.]

wpid-DSC01487-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgA college of some sort offering an MBA program. That reminds me… I need to study for the GMAT.

wpid-DSC01490-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgCampaign signs

wpid-DSC01491-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgRoyal Air Force Academy entrance

wpid-DSC01492-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMy great aunt greeting us

wpid-DSC01493-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgI started sitting up on the couches in 2006. In 1996 I think I sat on the floor. I’m too fat, too Westernized, and my knees and joints are too shabby to do the traditional floor thing.

wpid-DSC01495-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgA hearty lunch with tom yum goong, chicken curry with chicken feet, roast chicken, and rice. Good stuff.

wpid-DSC01497-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgOur “limo,” a Toyota Commuter. The chauffeur is sitting on a bench waiting for us.

wpid-DSC01499-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgAn upright toilet with old-fashioned flushing. You take the container in the blue bucket and pour it into the toilet to flush the contents down.

I can feel diarrhea beginning to set in. I think it started when I mistakenly used tap water to wet my toothbrush.

wpid-DSC01502-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgI’m SOAKING WET from sweat. I had to ask for a towel. On the plus side, I found a wifi connection and got online with my phone.
Left to right: Me, my great aunt, my brother.

wpid-DSC01504-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMy grandmother and her sister

wpid-DSC01507-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgSome dragon fruit

wpid-DSC01514-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThis strip mall sells automotive stuff, mostly Autozone-type nonsense.

wpid-DSC01517-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgLike Oregon and New Jersey, an attendant fills your tank.

It was a LONG, HOT day spent mostly outdoors. I’m kind of glad its over.


3 June 2011

I somehow woke up at 7am.

wpid-DSC01526-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgWent for lunch. My uncle’s Toyota diesel pickup has about 150,000 miles. Runs great.

wpid-DSC01533-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgNote that many cars sold here do not have heater cores, because heat in Thailand is like air conditioning in the arctic.

wpid-DSC01531-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMy diarrhea is approaching “full blown” status

wpid-DSC01535-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgFinished reading The Wal-Mart Effect around 1pm.

wpid-DSC01536-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgFinished writing my review at 3pm.

wpid-DSC01519-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgHeaded to Tesco-Lotus for groceries and other odds and ends.

wpid-DSC01537-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThis LG 50″ plasma TV is about $3000USD, a bit high, I think.

wpid-DSC01538-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThese digital cameras are reasonably priced, between $30 and $100.

wpid-DSC01539-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThis computer is $566 USD, and everything on display is quite underpowered. Above, a Toshiba laptop for $400 includes a measly 160GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, and an AMD processor line that I’ve never heard of.

wpid-DSC01540-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgTrying out exotic varieties of chips including seaweed.

wpid-DSC01541-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgBlech. This ground meat display was out in the open with flies buzzing about. I guess its self-serve.

wpid-DSC01542-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgPAPER TOWELS! Every place I’ve eaten or been to expect you to use toilet paper to wipe your hands and face as you eat, which means you end up with little clumps of TP all over your face and hands. Paper towels are godly. I bought six large rolls.

wpid-DSC01543-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgCream to ease your next colonoscopy… or a biscuit roll.

wpid-DSC01544-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMayo in a flexible plastic container. Weird. It has a seal at the top.

wpid-DSC01547-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgWonderfully convenient.

wpid-DSC01548-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgBecause there is no center lane, people seem content to use the oncoming lane as a turning lane.

wpid-DSC01550-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgLooks like a safe place for a kid… not.

wpid-DSC01551-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMore proof that the third world has moved beyond manual windows.

wpid-DSC01552-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgI think 90% of the vehicles on the road are pickup trucks.

wpid-DSC01553-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgWent to the outdoor market. Picked up some fried doughnut thingies.

wpid-DSC01556-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgPiracy! Illegal copies of whatever music you want, if you’re into pop. They were playing Train and Savage Garden on a loud sound system. Ugh.

wpid-DSC01557-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgStopped at a bank. Hours are 11am-7pm.

wpid-DSC01558-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgBought fried fish

wpid-DSC01559-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgOne of our dogs. The dogs here tend to be pretty ugly.

wpid-DSC01561-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgI bought some custard spread, delicious on bread and pastries.

wpid-DSC01562-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgPAPER TOWELS! PRAISE JEEBUS!

wpid-DSC01563-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgFound some blueberry and chocolate banana Pocky. The chip flavors are chicken, seafood, and seaweed. Haven’t tried the chips yet. The Pocky had all melted together, unfortunately, forming one massive super-Pocky.

wpid-DSC01565-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgDinner for me. Some rice, chicken, and cucumber.

wpid-DSC01566-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgBREAD! OH SWEET BREAD. I didnt realize how much I missed it. I ate a slice with custard spread.

wpid-DSC01567-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgCroissant sack, only $1 USD. Surprisingly good.

wpid-DSC01568-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMy cousin hanging out.

wpid-DSC01569-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgI bought this yogurt drink with active cultures in an attempt at filling my digestive system with something that might counteract the bug that’s giving me diarrhea. I dont think its working.

wpid-DSC01572-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgHillaroid being interviewed on TV.


wpid-DSC01575-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgGrandpa is intrigued.

wpid-DSC01576-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThey have satellite TV and a bazillion channels. This girl is talking about phones. She’s holding up the iPhone 4.

wpid-DSC01580-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgSome Laotian dance show.

wpid-DSC01581-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgAn ad for the Toyota Corolla Altis.

wpid-DSC01583-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgA motoring channel. All theyve done is walk around looking at motorcycles and cars. No one is doing any driving. The girl is hot though.

wpid-DSC01584-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThe news says someone was caught trying to smuggle reptiles out of Thailand. I bet it was that kid in Portland, Oregon…

“I like turtles.”

Fast Tube by Casper

wpid-DSC01586-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgwpid-DSC01591-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgBlueberry Pocky. The heat caused most of it to melt together and form one giant Pocky.

wpid-DSC01593-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgI watched a few episodes of Breakout Kings.

wpid-DSC01594-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgNori Seaweed Lays. Not bad. The seaweed taste is subtle and pleasant.

wpid-DSC01595-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThe chip is lightly seasoned.

wpid-DSC01596-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgSpicy grilled chicken Lays. Strangely, both plain and rippled chips are in the bag.

wpid-DSC01597-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgwpid-DSC01598-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThis Spicy Seafood flavor is a lot like tom yum goong.

4 June 2011

wpid-DSC01600-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgOne of the dogs. He’s camera shy.

wpid-DSC01601-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgwpid-DSC01606-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgWent for a ride in the back of the truck to get lunch. The camera, memory card, or card reader is misbehaving.

wpid-DSC01611-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgOrdered fried rice.

wpid-DSC01615-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgIt started raining right after we got back from lunch

wpid-DSC01672-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgChocolate banana Pocky has an unusually strong banana aftertaste

wpid-DSC01676-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThe ice cream truck came by. It wasnt quite a truck. It was more like a motorcycle with a refrigerated sidecart attached to it. Cones were available, but this one came in the form of a hot dog bun.

wpid-DSC01678-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgBurning off my remaining stash of Criminal Minds episodes

wpid-DSC01680-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgKids playing tarzan on the hammock

wpid-DSC01681-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgDinner. Nice spread

wpid-DSC01682-2011-08-6-13-03.jpglol, my mom back in the early 70s

wpid-DSC01683-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgDrifting on TV. So boring

wpid-DSC01736-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgwpid-DSC01737-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgEnjoyed a box of sweetened milk while watching O Brother Where Art Thou. I expected better from The Cohen Brothers.

5 June 2011

wpid-DSC01741-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgWe crammed into my aunt’s car to go to lunch

wpid-DSC01745-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgI ordered noodles with pork

wpid-DSC01746-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgwpid-DSC01747-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMy brother and sister were spoiled with ice cream

wpid-DSC01748-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThe kitchen

wpid-DSC01749-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgI dont think any cars in this region are equipped with a heater core

wpid-DSC01752-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgTurned my suitcase into a desk.

wpid-DSC01753-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMy clothes drying outside. It takes forever due to the humidity

wpid-DSC01755-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgwpid-DSC01756-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgEnjoying Automobile Magazine as a storm rolls in

wpid-DSC01757-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgwpid-DSC01758-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMom picked up KFC for dinner. It was as terrible here as it is back home.

wpid-DSC01759-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgwpid-DSC01760-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThe egg tart is basically a miniature pie filled with custard.

A quiet day overall.
June 6 2011

wpid-DSC01762-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgHello dog

wpid-DSC01763-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgM-150 is a non-carbonated energy drink. It gave me a swift kick in the ass. I stayed up late last night watching the Oliver Stone movie “Wall Street” and got up early to head to the golf course. I ended up not going and I’m glad I didn’t — I intended to hang out and mooch some wifi, but learned that the clubhouse lacks air conditioning.
[Discovered later on that there’s a coffee shop there with cold AC.]

wpid-DSC01764-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgI continued reading “Guts” by Bob Lutz as I scarfed down a bowl of noodles for breakfast.

wpid-DSC01765-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgWent with mom to the market. I was utterly bored — I ended up stuck with a bunch of women shopping for clothes.

wpid-DSC01766-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgTuk tuk, an open-air three-wheel taxi that’s as much Thailand as apple pie is American

wpid-DSC01767-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgLittle brother scoping out the backpack selection

wpid-DSC01768-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgA Hyundai Starex van

wpid-DSC01769-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMy older little brother

wpid-DSC01774-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgI got the train conductor to wave at me!

wpid-DSC01775-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThe engine sounded loud and crude

wpid-DSC01777-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThe passenger cars looked pretty beat.

wpid-DSC01779-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgBy the open windows I’m going to assume there’s no AC.

wpid-DSC01778-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgIt was about five or six cars long and sputtered by slowly, making tractor-like sounds rather than the smooth diesel-electric hum us Westerners are accustomed to.

wpid-DSC01782-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgStopped at a roadside stand to buy some soda. It was served in a bag. It was warm — I’ve been avoiding consuming any drinks that contain ice because the ice typically comes from unpure sources.

wpid-DSC01783-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgGot home, one of the dogs offered a salutation.

wpid-DSC01785-2011-08-6-13-03.jpg“sup guys”

wpid-DSC01786-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgSeven us squeezed into a Toyota Yaris (Vios)

wpid-DSC01787-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThis road was pointlessly marked into two lanes. It was wide enough for one car and one motorcycle

wpid-DSC01788-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgBig temple

wpid-DSC01790-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMore narrow roads

wpid-DSC01791-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgGot out on a main road. We were heading to a computer store about an hour or so away. A storm was approaching.

wpid-DSC01793-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgConstruction debris was in the air, making it difficult to see.

wpid-DSC01794-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgStoplights with timers. The bottom two lights were green arrows pointing forward and right

wpid-DSC01796-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgAn old VW Golf, which is a bit rare here

wpid-DSC01799-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMotorcyclists seem to go in whatever direction they want

wpid-DSC01801-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgwpid-DSC01802-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgGot to the HP store. They didn’t have anything of value. The long drive was kind of a waste. I’m not sure why we came all the way out there — my uncle and grandmother even followed in a separate vehicle. I told my mom the Lotus department store ten minutes away from home had whatever they were looking for in the electronics section.

wpid-DSC01805-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgMy brother and I searched for wifi and found a decent signal. There’s lots of open routers in Thailand

Fast Tube by Casper

Fast Tube by Casper

wpid-DSC01806-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgPlace of worship and such

wpid-DSC01807-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgFish farm

wpid-DSC01809-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgGod-awful wing

wpid-DSC01810-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThis sad looking shanty on the river would probably cost $1000/mo to rent if it was relocated to New York City

wpid-DSC01811-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgHeavy construction. Apparently 13 soldiers were killed by lightning within a couple miles of us

wpid-DSC01813-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgA family outing. I guess they’re off to Olive Garden for the unlimited pasta special. Or not.

wpid-DSC01814-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgThe king back there, acting all god-like

wpid-DSC01815-2011-08-6-13-03.jpgA huge tire shop.

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