Land of 1000 smiles

Heather had a massage booked to start her day, so I ambled through the neighbourhood, trying different roads and side streeets before finding myself back at Wat Pariwat, the local Buddhist temple in Bangkok.  I figured I would stick with our morning ritual of grabbing an iced coffee.  However, instead of going to the commercial options, I chose a vendor inside the temple. A monk was getting two amazing iced coffee drinks and I thought to simplify communication I said: “I’ll have one of those.”

The attendant looked lost until the monk intervened, though at first, he looked as if he was ready to give me one of his. 

“He is confused because I made these myself; he doesn’t know how.”

The monk helped translate what I wanted, all with a big smile, and all was well.

I sat in quiet contemplation for a bit, then bought a loaf of bread to feed the fish. I made the mistake of offering some to a pigeon with a misshapen beak. He was suddenly my best friend. 

On my way out, I saw the old lady in her familiar spot at the temple window. I was starting to walk away when I stopped, bucked up my courage, and asked (through body language) if I could take her picture. She nodded her assent and offered the most beautiful smile I have ever seen.  They call this the land of 1,000 smiles. I now understand why.

In the afternoon, we made our way to Chinatown, had a brief experience with the crazy shopping experience and even bought a bag of roasted frogs.  People back home seem intrigued by our culinary choices. I thought we would continue to explore the crazy food choices.

The conflagration of bikes, scooters, hand carts and motor vehicle through the narrow Chinese market is crazy. Eventually we grabbed a tuk tuk and made our way to the golden temple on the mountain which offered a wonderful 360-degree view of the city and a Nice cooling breeze. 

“Stay away from the edge,” said Heather grabbing my arm.

All of a sudden, I noticed that all traffic in the distance had stopped, and everyone was standing at attention.  The King’s motorcade was going by.  A long tan stretched limo very well have held the new monarch. It was November 30th and the official end of the mourning period for his late father.

We discovered that the 5 pm to 6:30 pm period is the super rush hour. We were squished into the Sky Train and we were squished into the bus.  It all seemed normal in a strange way.  Heather and I looked at each other from across the packed bus, smiling.

“We are getting rather daring,” she had said earlier in the day.

“Yes we are,” I said. “Yes we are.”


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