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I don’t recall a time when things were more humid. I needed to shower four times yesterday, just to wash off the sheen. Even after the sun long had set, the wet heat drenched the both of us, while the local Thai people looked dry and perfectly content. It think it went up to 31-degrees yesterday (Wednesday), which felt several degrees warmer thanks to the humidex.
We had a low key day, choosing to revisit Wat Pariwat to feed the fish and grab at ice coffee at a CM coffee shop nearby. We chilled back at our AirBnB during the hottest part of the day instead of venturing out.
To mentally prepare for the transition to Cambodia, I am reading “First they killed my Father” by Loung Ung, a survivor of the Cambodian genocide. It was nice to lounge around soaking in the history of a country we will begin to know on Friday.
We decided to try to return to the hidden gems that our guide took us to the previous day. Both of us enjoyed the idea of seeing if we could fin our way. Our initial destination of the flower market near Wat Pho was a bit of a challenge to get to, as our guide had used a circuitous route that we couldn’t begin to replicate. Instead, we grabbed the main water taxi on the big river and attempted to disembark at Pier 6. However, the boat was so packed and we were so far toward the back, that we couldn’t get to the front of the boat in time. The boat pilots spend as little time at each pier as possible. We ended up getting off at Pier 7 instead, which actually turned out to be the better option anyway.
Almost immediately we found ourselves in the middle of the colourful and vibrant flower market, supplying some of the daily ceremonial flower needs for the private worshippers and over 500 temples of Bangkok. The market encompasses an area the size of several city blocks, much of it all under cover. Connected to it is a vegetable and fruit market where we quickly found our Mango vendor. We had her peel and slice up one mango for each of us - dessert for when we eventually found our Pad Thai vendor. We also stopped to get 6 of those coconut covered dessert balls.
The markets are busy places, part of daily life for the Thai people and quite a novelty for those of us who come from away. There are not a lot of places to sit and rest, but we knew that if we found the Pad Thai spot, she had several places to rest our bones.
We kept moving closer and closet to Wat Pho, through an area we went through quickly the day before using a tuk tuk. Crossing the busy street, a vendor caught my eye. He had a very different selection of fried or roasted bugs including grasshoppers. I didn’t hesitate.
“Four of these,” I said, holding up 4 fingers and pointing to the crunchy looking hoppers.
“Forty bhat,” he said, loading up way more than four. I thought my four fingers meant that we wanted 40 bhat worth.
“Good choice,” said this lovely Thai fellow standing close by. “Good for stomach. I have every morning.”
His English was excellent, a teacher from the school across the way, very close to the temple.
“Where you from?” he asked.
“Ahh, Justin Trudeau,” he beamed. “Before that Stephen Harper. Before that Jean Chrétien.”
We continued on our way and eventually found our Pad Thai spot. Our host made us two wonderful Pad Thai meals and we enjoyed a bottle of beer, all for 140 bhat, or about $6 CAD. She was super impressed that we were eating grasshoppers. Her face actually lit up.
Once again, drenched in sweat, we began our journey back, getting on a super packed water taxi with hundreds of others, including a group of monks who were standing right beside us.
At the boat terminal that connects with the Sky Train, a young violinist was busking. We stopped to enjoy his lovely performance as locals and tourists streamed by. I was happy to drop him a tip and put my hands together in a friendly greeting. He beamed a bright smile back.
This country is the land of a thousand smiles. It is one of the things that I find so endearing about Thailand: if you give someone a smile, they give one back. It is this wonderful gift of micro human connections that is so special.