Our 'guide' Kan (sounds like a combination of gun and gone) met us early morning in the lobby of our hotel. I dispelled my preconceived ideas right away that we would sit down and discuss the plans for the day. He already had a plan -- we were going to the top of the mountain. That was fine, I wanted to go there anyway. We hailed a songthaew -- a converted pickup truck with two benches in the back and a metal roof. It's kinda like a bus in that they have regular routes.
Hang on, we're headed to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the Phuping Palace and the hill people. We've got a packed songthaew, and we're the only tourists on this ride. Slowly, I'm beginning to readjust my thinking about Kan, along with any expectations about his ability to guide us. He just really wants to tag along and practice his english. That's okay, he turns out to be a delightful young man. We learn all about his life in Thailand -- he's a 20 year old student at the University in Bangkok studying English and Spanish. An only child of a Christain car-salesman and whose mother was once Buddhist and now is a hair stylist.
The palace is beautiful surrounded by rose gardens and other exotic plantings, most curious was the fact that there were no sprinkler systems and everything is watered by hand. I enjoyed the wat much better, it was very busy with locals taking care of daily, weekly and monthly alums. I received a blessing from a monk -- I never turn down an opportunity for a blessing. Curiously, he would not tie the white string around my wrist as he did for all the others. I thought it was because I was a foreigner, I learned later, it is because I'm a woman and monks cannot have any contact with women.
We were made to walk through tons of little shopping stalls which I know most find interesting and curious, but I loathe. After a while all that stuff looks the same to me (and it is the same) and I'm not much of a trinket shopper. Now show me something exquisite and rare and that's a different story.
After a warm day, we head back to our lodge to realize that the ac doesn't seem to be as efficient as it was the day before. A call to the front desk sends a handyman pronto. He never talks to us, just shakes his head and leaves. Next we know its a call from the front desk asking if we could leave the room for an hour to repair it, or we'll have to change rooms. We're in our bathing suits shortly, down by the pool. Andy's ordered a fresh coconut and some kind of mango-ice cream-sticky-rice concoction.
I remember reading in a magazine on the way over that one of Thailand's main industries is airconditioning and maintainence. And now I know why. Dinner at the night bazaar so Andy could see the transvestites. I promise, pictures to follow soon. (And I apologize for typos and spelling -- this program doesn't have spell check -- ooops, a must for me)