The last couple of days has been low-key, which I’ve needed for rest, reflection, and shopping. I’ve gotten some uninterrupted sleep, and I think I’m kicking this cold. The first night I was in Bangkok I was awakened by periodic booms. At first I thought it was fireworks, but then it occurred to me it could be gunfire (there are political protests currently in Thailand and Bangkok, but not near where I’m staying or hanging around). I peeked out my curtains and saw the people next to me were looking out over their balcony (not likely to be hit when you are 54 floors up). I didn’t hear anything on the news, so I’m not sure what it was.
Interestingly, three days after we crossed into Cambodia, a border dispute erupted again between Thailand and Cambodia (stemming from where Preah Vihear, an ancient temple sitting on the border that is considered an UNESCO World Heritage Site), in which I think 2 soldiers were killed and hostages were taken. I was far away in Phnom Pehn when it happened, although we passed a military convoy that day.
The Lebua at State Tower is very nice, a bit precious though. Had a drink at Skybar and dinner at the Sirocco (both at Lebua) which has incredible view of Bangkok. Both charged obscene prices, even by Western standards, for the privilege. If you get to Bangkok, I would recommend the drink at Skybar. The food is that typical overwrought frou-frou stuff that tastes fine, but is portioned for a small child.
On being an American: As an American, I am sensitive to the reputation we somehow acquired abroad for behaving badly. And while I’ve seen a few examples of it when I have traveled, I’ve seen plenty of examples of boorish behavior from other nationals. For example, in a hotel, a woman at the counter was raising her voice and having a mini-meltdown. My co-travelers commented that she was “not American”. At the One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi, which has stood since 1074, a Japanese tourist shoved and elbowed her way to the top of the incline and took over the worship spot. That she behaved such in the presence of a being perceived to be god-like didn’t occur to her. One of my co-travelers on the Vietnam leg of the journey was a spoiled British girl who threw a fit when the hotel laundry service “ruined” her nice white skirt. Why you would bring your nice things on a trip and expect no problems with laundering that is not associated with a 5-star accommodation is beyond me. And two travelers, the aforementioned Brit and an Irish woman, often wore mini-skirts and skimpy “singlets” (camisole tops), which is considered big time slut-wear in SE Asia (and complain that they are seen/treated as sex objects). When do these other nations own up to their behavior?
BTW, when I was asked wehre I was from in both Cambodia and Vietnam, few knew where Seattle was.
“Happy-ness” in SE Asia: If you are asked how happy would you like your food, it means how much marijuana would you like in it. Personally I prefer my food unhappy, thank you very much. A “Happy house” in Vietnam is a toilet. Sometimes it’s a squatty potty and not happy at all.
What I dislike about traveling: Not being with my husband, loneliness, racking up dirty laundry, heat/humidity and the perpetual sour smell of sweat, a lack of TP in most places (I carry my own), being treated like a walking ATM, distrust of shopkeepers/taxi driver-types.
I’m off to Nepal in a few days, will give you more updates then.