Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Date: Friday, June 18, 1999 12:09 PM
Subject: Bangkok...day 3!

OK...started the day by sleeping in...so sue me, I'm on vacation!Got up around 0930...had my Muesli/Banannas/Milk for breakfast and headed out. First hit the Vistanek Palace (Sp for sure...but unwilling to look it up...too late...too bad) which is the largest Teak Wood Building in the World (..."or that is what is says in the program" (quote credit to Joe Derhake)).Upon arriving at the "Temple to Teak" I was informed that my shorts were unacceptable (but in a very friendly Thai way...is there anything else?). And for the first time on the trip I was actually not wearing my Zip-off Shorts (for those who don't know...don't ask...for those who do...buy them now, believe me, they are great...and quite sexy I am told). I was then presented with a Sarong and told that I would be OK if I wore it...while I am not in favor of wearing things that could be considered a dress...being Scottish, I convinced myself that it was a Thai Kilt and put it on.
I received several admiring comments (as I was the only person in the English Speaking tour that was wearing one). Tour summary: The house is painted in different colors in different parts to signify different things...that's all I gleaned from the guide...quite confusing really, the guide also had a habit of wanting us to guess where many different antiques were from...we kept looking for a reason why...but one nevermaterialized...he just thought it was cute I guess...eventually the tour group was asking him where the fire extinguishers and telephones were made...I was ofcourse not a member of this violent offshoot tourist group, then we saw several different sets of China (dishes) in different colors...yes...he wanted us to guess which color was served on which day of the week...and when he told us that red was for Sunday and yellow for Tuesday he seemed to think that we should have known this information instinctively from birth...I am pretty lucky to match 2 white socks for any day of the week. We had a good time on the tour...and being the peacekeeper of the tour, I befriended several members of the radical sect including a Dane, some Texans, and some English folks (Pommies for those in the know...).I was headed to the Zoo next and the Dane joined me for my walk. Lulu is travelling for 6 weeks in Thailand and Malaysia. We went to the market along the way to the Zoo...NOTE: In Bangkok, there is ALWAYS a market between you and where ever you are going.
In the market I saw something that almost made me do backflips...a purse made of STINGRAY! No, I am not starting to go on a gender-bender...I happen to love Stingray hides (NOTE: as most of you know, my sparkly black boots are made of Stingray hide...and proud of them I am!). I was even more estatic to note that they also had belts, wallets, and much more...Joy, happiness, and bliss...lots of little Stingrays died to fill this shop! But
I was not satisfied...I wanted more...and being my Grandfather's grandson (NOTE: Grandfather being Scottish (read: Cheap) and very particular (read: perfectionist) I wanted to go straight to the horses mouth to buy stuff (read: factory outlet...do they exist in Thailand? Answer later...stay tuned). I got the business card (read: are you crazy, it's in Thai!) for the factory and said my good-byes...we were going to the zoo.
Zoo was about as expected...We saw elephants, tigers, leopards, turtles (Lulu likes turtles...go figure...I mean they are OK...but not exactly the cute, cuddly type...she said it was their cute little faces...go figure...reminds me of a beserk botany babe I once knew...but that is another story), big lizards (really...big...like 4 1/2 feet long...and not necessarily in cages...swimming in the middle of the lagoon also...wondered why there were no ducks in the lagoon until we saw those beasts...but they would probably make some good boots...where is that Tony Lama guy when you need him?), pythons, etc.  We left, went to my guest house for (whatelse!) a couple of Coconut Milkshakes...and then found a taxi driver and presented him with my Stingray Factory Outlet business card...and said "Take us here (lots of silent pointing and gesturing...just visualize)"...he laughed like I had 3 heads. OK...so this is where the negotiating starts...I say "how much, 20 Baht???", he laughs and says 500 Baht, I laugh and practically spit as if he has questioned my family lineage...lots of gesturing, spitting, laughing, frowning, and muttered Thai words later, we agree on 300 Baht for a trip to the factory and a return trip to China Town for sightseeing.
We set off, taxi driver, me and Lulu in search of the lost Stingray Factory...and much to his credit, the driver drove for about 45 minutes and got us withing about 1/2 mile of the factory before we had to stop and ask for directions...pretty good considering I am just now able to make it to my neighborhood Vons shopping center without directions (and I can hit it with a rock from my car garage). We finally make it to the factory, and they are quite speechless when we walk in...believe me, it is in the middle of nowhere Bangkok (really...I mean down dirt roads, back alleys, and past the 3rd cow on the left Bangkok!)...and I guess they don't get many drop in tourists. Anyway, I went in and started to look at the merchandise...next thing I know, the nice girls in the front/only office have me on the phone with the owner who speaks some English...and wants to leave his house right then and will be right over in 1 hour to meet with me...I was kinda thinking of plundering the store and leaving kinda quickly...so we discussed that I would choose what I wanted...and they the nice girl would call him so we could discuss prices. I found several things...Not to be discussed here because some may become presents...(NOTE: All should consider that I have bought them NOTHING...it is widely known that I am cheap and Scottish and trying to save money...and that I love all of you...but can not possibly afford gifts for really...um....anyone...so really, I probably did not buy anything...so in the story when I say I discussed prices and haggled...it is merely to keep the story going...assume I bought nothing...and that YOU will receive nothing...this is the best policy...you received this e-mail didn'tyou? I have already spent 1 Baht per minute on all of you...whatelse do you want??!!??). So then, I looked through ALL the merchandise...I reminded myself of my father in the Sears store at 10:09pm looking at Craftsman tools while all of the clerks hover around hoping he will buy a freaking hammer and let them go home...I hada driver and Lulu taking the parts of hovering clerks (actually they were pretty good about the whole thing), I talked with they guy and haggled and finally got a fairly good price for what I bought (which was nothing...remember?).
We then headed to Chinatown...walked around and decided that roast, cold, day-old duck was not to be on our menu for the evening...and headed to the Patpong area of town. This is the notorious section of town...one could say this is where the "main market" is in Bangkok...(Read: big market with much merchandise surrounded with lots of clubs selling all sorts of other things (read: Amsterdam of South-East Asia (OK...enough reading)))...we headed straight for authentic Thai cuisine...(read: Sizzler)...yes, (Sizzler), as much as I am ashamed to admit it...it looked pretty darned appetizing compared to street vendors hawking many cooked animals...probably including hawks. Really, it was a toss-up between the Amigo Cantina ("authentic Mexican food") and Sizzler...I was not keen on sampling Thai Mexican food...I'm not crazy. The Sizzler actually made a good showing and had a great fruit/salad bar that included Lychee (note: this is an Asian fruit...size of a golfball with a leathery exterior...you peel with your hand to yield something very similar to a peeled grape...very tasty and makes for lots of good comparisons to eating eyeballs...guess you had to be there. NOTE: very cheap...only 500 Baht for great steak/shrimp/chicken/Lychee meal.
Then it was off to walk down the infamous Patpong road...Lots of t-shirts, wooden items, and everything else for sale...we were not in the mood to buy...it was getting late...so off to Khao San Road (Note: this is where
many of the guesthouses are in Bangkok and many cafes for tourists). Had another couple of Coconut Milkshakes (yes...I'm addicted...oh the shame!), talked for a while and called it a night...It is currently 1am in
Bangkok...I must catch a 6am flight...and I am going now...
Favell (Actually farewell in Danish...but pronounced Favell), Satwadee Kap, and Adios from Bangkok Ya'll...it's been great!
Doug