Thailand - The Land of Smiles! Also, the land where everything is for sale. I spent my first couple of nights around Khaosan Road (ever seen the movie - The Beach?) It is one of the more interesting little streets anywhere. One of my past times was sitting on the curb with a Chang beer and just watching the throngs go by. After midnight, the ladyboys come out to strut their stuff and try to attract customers. I sat in the curb until 3 AM one night with a local bar girl who had gotten off work without any customers and we played a little game of "Lady, or Ladyboy?" It is kind of like - "Is it live, or is it Memorex" - for those of you who remember those audio tape commercials. I would try to guess if the person was a lady or a ladyboy and she would let me know if I was right or not. I only hit about 50%! At least that is what she said. I have no way of knowing for sure, since I am certainly not into that sort of thing. What a different lifestyle! After three hours of this and other people-watching, I saundered on home for the night - er, morning. The amazing thing was how many people were still out walking the streets, eating noodles or spring rolls and drinking beer at that time of the morning.
Like I said, anything is for sale on Khaosan Road, from people to clothes to Phad Thai to digital movies and music to just about anything you could imagine and some things you can't. I tired of this place after a while and was delighted with many of the other sights in BKK, like the temples and markets. I have not tried the bird's nest soup in Chinatown yet, but might before I leave.
The purple fruit is Dragonfruit, which makes a great juice. The Tuk Tuks are a real wild ride. I noticed that the air quality here seems much better than many other mega-cities I have visited. Perhaps one reason is that 3/4 of the autos run on CNG or propane. Another thing I liked (for all you traffic engineers out there) are the countdown timers on all the signals. We see a lot of these for pedestrians, but most of the signals here have them for drivers too. It allows the driver to shut down the vehicle because they can see how long until they get the green light. Maybe this only works on fixed-time signals? The last photo is different types of dried shrimp, which is used like salt as a seasoning. Also, fish sauce is another salt-substitute, a bit like soy.
After a few days here I went up to Chiang Mai for trekking and a different environment for a few days.