More goodbyes to be said this morning (well, actually it was nearer to the afternoon before we all surfaced) as John was due to fly to Phuket and Todd and his mother Joanna were setting off for Koh Samui. Now that i’m familiar with the Chao Praya River Boat Express and the Skytrain system, I decided to make use of it once again and go for a relaxing stroll around Lumpini Park. The park is named after the Buddha’s place of birth in Nepal. There is a large artificial lake, neatly kept lawns, an asphalt jogging track, picnic tables and benches, and the structured planting of tall palm trees throughout the park’s grounds. Although it’s not natural in any way, shape or form, it’s a pleasant enough area in which to do a spot of jogging, play some badmington, have a picnic, or simply fall asleep down by the lake under the peaceful shade of the trees, and it’s the best way to escape Bangkok without leaving town.
In the evening, I decided to try some fresh Red Snapper at Thai Garden Restuarant, along Soi Rambuttri. Todd had raved about the fish and I’ve always fancied sampling it as I like the sound of its name! It was barbequed (so the skin was all crispy) and served with a lime and chilli sauce, and was indeed worth every one of the 100THB I paid for it (under 2 British pounds). Unfortunately however, whilst I was eating it I managed to swallow the ball on the top of my tongue bar. I must of thought I’d eaten a small fish bone as I felt it slide down my throat. Doh! Fortunately though, it didn’t work its way loose whilst I was sleeping and I’m in a place where I can easily buy a replacement tongue bar before the piercing heals up. Or so I thought. The next day, when the body piercing shop re-opened, I purchased a new tongue bar and went back to my guesthouse to put the piece of jewellery in. No matter how hard I tried from both directions, I could not force the bar back through my tongue. Eventually, I had to swallow my pride, walk down to the tattoo and piercing establishment at the end of Soi Rambuttri, explain what had happened and beg for their help. The long-haired, long-bearded Thai man struggled for a good 5-10 minutes before achieving success, admitting that he was surprised how quickly the piercing had tried to heal itself. It had been less than 24 hours!
What I meant to do after the tongue bar incident was visit Jim Thompson’s House, probably the only major tourist attraction in Bangkok that I haven’t been to see. However, Jim Thompson’s House is in the Siam district, which is where all the major shops are situated. The exit from The National Stadium skytrain station (the nearest jumping off point to Jim’s place of residence) leads right into one of the largest shopping centres in Siam. Hence, what was supposed to be a quick look around the MBK Centre before moving on to the main purpose of my journey materialised as me getting well and truly lost in the MBK centre! You haven’t seen the place; believe me, it’s easy to do!! By the time I had managed to re-orientate myself with the place, Jim Thompson’s House was due to close in half an hour and they had already admitted their last customers.
This evening, having exhausted all there is to do in Bangkok (temples, parks, mansions, shopping, watching films, eating, drinking) I decided to get something wacky done to my hair : a concept that, judging by the people you see mooching up and down Khao San Road, seems to be one that should be added to the list of things to do in this crazy city. Having thought about this carefully (well, over a beer or two) I decided that whilst dreadlocks look kinda cool and funky whilst you’re travelling, they do not at any other time – at least not when you’re approaching 30 and you have to attend job interviews in a few weeks! So I opted for braids : you can take them out whenever you want to (although i’m not sure how difficult or time-consuming it is), and I quite fancied the idea of having long thick beautiful tresses – well, the acrylic version of them! I chose 3 colours (deep red, auburn and brown) and picked some beads to be woven into a few strands of hair at the end.
I didn’t realise quite how time consuming my decision would turn out to be. I sat down at 8:30pm, quite comfortable to begin with, watching the comings and goings along Khao San Road. One guy walked past me about 4 times. I noticed him because he was wearing a T-shirt with hand-written script across the front which read, “I am not Israeli, OK?” It made me smile because Israeli’s seem to have a reputation for being a rude old bunch of people (even though Esther’s husband is adorable and Gilad (whom I met in Cambodia and Vietnam) seemed a really chilled out and friendly kinda guy)) so I guess he was fed up with being mistaken for an Israeli!! Anyway, as time wore on, I noticed I was getting thirsty and that my bum was getting incredibly numb sat on one of the small hard plastic nursery stools that everyone in Asia seems to use. Shortly after I noticed this, I noticed that many of the vendors were starting to pack away their wares and close up shop. When my hair was finally completed, it was 12:30am!!! Despite the speed at which the lady was plaiting my hair, it had still taken her an incredible 4 hours!!! 1000THB for 4 hours certainly isn’t a bad price; it costs me approximately the same for half an hour in the hairdressers back at home.
Two Thai girls relaxing at the lakeside in Lumphini Park, Bangkok
Me with braids (taken on mobile phone so I apologise for the poor quality!)