Instead of the early rising I had in mind, I slept late and decided to do my laundry rather than shopping. I eventually figured out the washing machines and thought that instead of going upstairs, I would read a book in the sun … not of course taking into consideration that it would burn me to a crisp in the hour or so I was out. Sun block has been on my shopping list for a week now, but I have yet to find any that is not whitening.
Yes, whitening. Whitening skin here is big business, almost, if not more than, as much as tanning is in the UK. There are adverts everywhere – on billboards by the roadside, videos on the BTS, promotions in malls. All the Thai ladies want to be paler and there are no end to the number of products they can buy in shops here to assist them. It’s not just the gals – the boys can also have whiter skin by using the numerous face washes, moisturisers, etc on sale too.
This is all well and good, but it does make it hard to find things even as simple as shower gel or the aforementioned sun block. It feels strange to me that people would envy me for my pasty skin and light coloured hair as I envy them for their hobbit-like proportions and ability not to sweat.
So, after I had done with burning my skin to pork scratching proportions and had managed to work out the driers, I headed back upstairs to upload some photos, tidy up a bit and managed to work out the Skype thing (by merely switching it on – no idea what happened) and chatted to Lee for a bit before I decided that I really couldn’t put it off further and headed out to the real world.
Man, it was hot. But I think I am very, very slowly adjusting. I managed to get down to the BTS station and get to Sala Daeng station without even contemplating breaking a sweat. When I got off the train I realised that I was actually at the station across from the entrance to Lumpini Park, so rather than get the MRT (subway) to Lumpini station, I thought I would have a nice meander thru the park, stopping at the kiosk near the entrance for some water in time to witness an argument between the Thai shop assistant and a German cyclist over some soy milk.
Saturdays seem to be prime time for the joggers of Bangkok to take to their trotters. The park is really about the only place for them to pursue their crazy hobby as the pavements here are either full of food stands and other stalls, motorbike taxis avoiding traffic or potholes. There are also several open air gyms, with mostly weight lifting equipment which made a water break for me most amusing – lots of macho looking guys trying to outdo each other. There was also a fellow doing some martial arts practice with 2 big sticks, and he looked very menacing, so I didn’t stop too long.
The park is really quite peaceful and it is easy to forget that you are in one of the busiest cities on the planet. There is always the dull roar of traffic wherever you go, but somehow it is easier to tune it out when you are strolling amongst bonsai trees and ornamental pagodas.
I eventually arrived at the other side of the park about 5 ish and crossed the road to the entrance to the nite bazaar. There are no overpasses on the road here, so crossing the road is slightly like playing frogger, except you are the frog. The nite bazaar doesn’t really start to hot up til after 6, so when I was beseiged by some girls offering me a foot massage for a mere £2 for 30 minutes I did not give it a second thought and leapt right into the chair.
I had never had a massage before coming here and after the disaster of yesterday’s inappropriate footwear, I must say that it really went down a treat today. Once you get over the tickly issue, it is easy to see why you could end up snoozing. There is nothing like having someone punch you in the shins for half an hour to really perk you up. The girl who was attending to me was very vigorous and I seriously did think at one point she was going to dislocate my toes, but it was really very refreshing. She did a very thorough job and it was a bit of a shame to put my sweaty shoes back on and tramp around the market after that.
But tramp around I did! I am growing used to being stared at for being a lone, pale girl and am taking it all in my sweaty stride now. I managed not to buy a pair of trainers despite the guys halfing their starting price, but did I buy a new bag and purse (or purse and wallet if you are American) for about £8 as well as a fan to try and keep slightly cooler. I somehow always manage to end up going up and down the same group of sois at the nite bazaar, altho it is often hard to tell as many stalls sell the same things, or variations thereof.
After I was done with trudging, I got out of the park and played frogger again and had my first moment of triumph in Bangkok – my first conversation entirely in Thai. Ok, it only lasted a few sentences, but I managed to thank the nice taxi driver for stopping further down the street when I didn’t even hail the cab til he’d passed and agree that yes, I was very hot and tell him to stop right here. A small triumph, but one that gave me an inner glow of satisfaction, nonetheless.
After all that I had to have another swim to cool down and then came back to find that the room fairies had been and made the bed and rearranged my laundry despite putting a note under the door to say that they weren’t coming today. The only thing that could make their service better is if they were to start making monkeys out of the towels, but they resolutely insist on leaving them neatly folded on the rack in the bathroom.
Tomorrow is Sunday (altho it is Sunday already here) – what to do! I am considering going to Chatuchak market which is enormous – allegedly 8000 stalls. It is best to get there early to avoid the heat and too many of the crowds. I may instead go for the glamour instead and head to Tesco to see if I can locate a duvet, cutlery, etc for the apartment and then maybe take in the Chinese temple which is a short walk away from Oakwood. But now – it’s time for bed. Good night!