This 4 days off a week lark could really catch on. It’s Tuesday early afternoon for me, which means you souls in the UK will be getting up around now, or if you’re Lee, at work already. I’ve already had 1.5 hours in the swimming pool and done my laundry whilst you were all giving it zeds!
I had a really odd day on Sunday – I wasn’t feeling too good and spent most of the day listlessly wandering round, picking things up and putting them down again, starting to read but then being too restless, etc. I waited til about 4.30 to go out and headed to the Siam Square area for a look at the wildlife there – countless shops with all sorts of fashions, bars, restaurants, etc. The best thing was of course another branch of Daiso, which is possibly the best shop ever for random things. I also found This Happened To Be A Closet, which looks like it will be great for a rummage – I gave it a half hearted attempt, but really needed someone there to ooh and aah over things with.
I adjourned for something to eat and then pretty much headed home after that to get in the swimming pool whilst it was empty (first thing checked off my to do list already!) and had a great 45 minutes ploughing up and down, floating about looking at the stars, etc. Very peaceful and set me up for a better nite’s sleep.
Or at least it would have been had not my stalker that I seem to have acquired not kept phoning me. I have no idea what language they speak – it’s not Thai and it’s not English – but they phoned me about 7 times on Sunday and then again yesterday morning at 5.30 am and 6.30am. Funnily enough, they have not called back since I bellowed some obscenities at them when I was awoken for the second time – GAHH! (I know the obvious answer is to switch my phone off at nite, but I like to have it on in case of emergency)
That meant that I slept later than I intended and was not out the house til lunchtime. I was headed for China Town for my walking tour that I had forgotten to print off, so I hastily scribbled it on the back of a flyer and set off. It was pretty hot as you might expect so I was peeved that i had not set off earlier as my timing meant that I was pretty much traipsing round in the hottest part of the day. I got the train down to Saphan Taksin which is where the central pier is for the express river boat, bought my ticket and got on the boat and made my way to Memorial Bridge where I got off and started my tour. At first I thought I had the wrong place, as the street immediately outside the ferry terminal was skanky – really dirty, rubbish piled high, buses parked up and people looking pretty destitute hanging around.
I followed my instructions tho and quickly made it to the street I needed to be on, which is part of the flower district. Every few feet along the rickety pavement were people making floral leis of all different colours and sizes, women with plasters all over their fingers de-thorning roses, making up bouquets wrapped in newspaper. There were shops selling every possibly accoutrement for both organising the flowers and displaying them for your home, hotel or temple. It was quite a sight, and I hear even more of a sight at 4am when their busy time is. Maybe one day I will be up early (or late) enough to see that.
I headed back along in the direction of the bridge and veered left towards China Town proper. I was supposed to pass thru Little India on the way, but I think I must have taken a wrong turn, as I didn’t spot anything Indian which threw my lunch plans right out! I kept plodding on tho and eventually got to downtown China Town and it was starting to look vaguely familiar from my last visit. I reached Sampeng Lane which the walking guide mentioned as the highlight – what it didn’t mention is that it is NOT for the faint hearted! It is basically an alley which is maybe only wide enough for 2 people to pass down abreast, with stalls and shops on either side. It’s extremely claustrophobic and frustrating as if one person stops to look at something or buy something, then everyone is held up! It’s also baking hot in there but the good thing is that it is at least partially covered over so you are not completely in the sun’s glare for the entire time.
I saw so many things that I would imagine most of my crafting buddies back home would have fainted over – lanes and lanes and lanes of buttons, fabrics, trimmings, ribbons, jewellery findings, beads (and beads and beads!), keyring parts, packaging, bags … it was a crafters delight! I even saw wool wholesalers and I am sure I spotted some embroidery supplies too. I bought a few things and later came across my personal highlight, a whole area of one street devoted to cute carrier bags! Hamish is going to have the best packaged goods around!
After battling my way out of there I realised I had gone too far up the lane so I abandoned my walking tour guide and relied on Nancy to get me along to Odeon Circle to see Wat Traimit, the home of a giant solid gold Buddha. I made it there without any problems and on the way had a rest on a bench in the shade. An older Thai couple came up and sat down and asked me in English where I was going. I pointed to Odeon Circle on the map and they told me it was literally round the corner, so I was pretty pleased that it was not too much further as I was pretty overheated by this point. I could feel my head was burning but I wanted to press on and finish my agenda. The couple got up before me, the woman touched my knee and wished me good luck as she did – I found this very touching, as they were so genuinely interested in where I was going and seemed pleased that I had taken the trouble to search out their neighbourhood as worth seeing.
I found Odeon Circle without much trouble – it would be hard to miss with a giant Chinese gate in the middle of what is back home called a roundabout. Wat Traimit was not far off one of the roads off the roundabout and I made my way in to see the giant Buddha. I just looked at him from the door as the ticket booth to actually go in and see him was unmanned. It was pretty spectactular – 3 metres tall and pretty huge – and SOLID gold! I read that it is worth $14.5 million US Dollars, which somehow does not sound like enough to me. No photos allowed, said the guard, so I took some of his smaller replica outside which you can see here.
After that I dodged the tuk tuk drivers trying to get me to take up their services and made my way back along the main road to what I thought was the pier, but I was going in the wrong direction, so had to do an about turn which is where I found the carrier bag street, yay! Then I made it to the pier and a nice lady looked after me and stopped me getting on the wrong boats and laughed like a drain when I got on the right one, inexplicably. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood yesterday, probably because it was a public holiday. I made it back on the boat which was pretty crowded, only narrowly avoiding falling head first into a monk as the waters were pretty choppy. By this time I was feeling pretty faint, not having eaten anything and being pretty dehydrated. I think I may have caught a hint of sunstroke as my head was pounding, so I headed home, ate some pineapple, slapped my photos up on flickr and when I couldn’t focus any more, went to bed where I slept for 10 solid hours and woke up feeling much better.
Today I have been pottering around, spent the aforementioned hour and a half in the pool which was great. The only other person in it briefly was a Scottish guy who lives here. We had a chat about what we are each doing here, where we are from, etc. He seems like a nice guy – pretty camp – don’t think he will be availing himself of the services of Emmanuelle’s in a hurry – and has adopted a weird sing songy way of speaking from his years of teaching in Asia where everything he says sounds like he is explaining something to an unruly toddler. It must be hard to switch off if you are teaching foreigners full time.
So now I have just been and done my laundry and am slightly despairing as the washing machines down there are too violent! The lining in my trousers has been dislodged, a top has a hole in it … too powerful! Just as well I didn’t use the tumble driers, who knows what would have happened! I am going to meet Jamie for something to eat and possibly cinema later, so I may do some sewing this afternoon as it’s been a few days since I last stitched anything. But now I am off to slap on some more moisturiser on my burnt arms – ouch!