It's been a while since I've had a chance to stop and update this thing. After spending a little while in Bangkok, I took a two day trip down south to the town of Phetchaburi. It's a little off the tourist trail, and I'd forgotten how nice it is to visit places like that. The people were far friendlier, the accomodation cheaper, and the food more authentic. It just felt very comfortable to be away from all the tourist restaurants and touts and all that stuff. The plan was to spend a day exploring the city, and a day on the beach, but the beach turned out to be less than ideal. The water was a dirty brown color, and although the place was packed with thais, no one really seemed to be too excited to get in the water. I scrapped the day at the beach, and decided to spend some time exploring the nearby cave temples and do a bit of hiking.
There are three or four different cave temples in Phetchaburi. The Lao Thang temple was the biggest, and most popular. Upon arriving, we (Haley and I) found the parking lot to be overrun by monkeys. They were everywhere. We were the only visitors that day, and the staff of tour guides seemed more than happy to show us all around and give us some bananas so that we could feed the monkeys. I'm sure it would have been a great picture to see me surrounded by around 50 monkeys, all reaching for the bananas, but the guy who offered to take the pictures wasn't the greatest with a camera. All the pictures are off-center, tilted to one side, and cut out all the monkeys. Not that the pictures I take are any good either, but it would have been nice to get some pictures of me with the monkeys. Anyway, the cave temples were allright. I took a lot of pictures, but I'm not really to interested in going through all of the motions of praying to the buddha statues. My favorite part was that the monk who took care of the cave temple was armed with a slingshot to keep the mischevious monkeys from running off with the offerings and breaking the statues. After the cave temple, we visited Khao Wang hill, which is a large hill in the middle of the city with a palace built on top. As with the rest of the city, the hill was overrun with monkeys, and I took far too many pictures.
The next day we caught an early bus back to Bangkok and I got to do some exploring before I finally had to leave the next morning. I wandered around the city and visited a few temples and markets and all that stuff that I hadn't had time to do. I bought a hammock for $1.50, and also bought a few small amulets from the amulet market near the grand palace. I expected it to be more for tourists than anything, but was pleasantly surprised to find that almost all the customers were Thais. Monks, taxi drivers, and various other people were looking carefully at all the amulets and pendants. I couldn't read any of the Thai, so I'm not really sure what the amulets I bought are supposed to do. All I had to go on was pretty designs, and with my luck, I probably bought some that are supposed to enhance fertility instead of do something useful for me like prevent accidents or illness. I'll let you know if I have any babies.
On the way back to the hotel, I stopped by the 7-11 on Khao San road for a bottle of water. I have a tendency to run into people I know in very odd places, and apparently Bangkok is one of them. I passed Tim Chakos 20 miles from the nearest road when hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I bumped into Dan Munro at the far end of Lake Chelan where the only way to get there is by boat. I can now add meeting Laura Burkhart (a girl from my high school, for those of you who don't know) in a 7-11 in Bangkok. Small world.
The rest of my time in Bangkok was spent trying to eat as much Thai food as I could. Chennai, India is up next, and I'm ready for another adventure.