Friday, February 3, 2012

No Backtracking

Saturday morning, we got up, checked the Thai Airways Cargo website and confirmed that our bikes made it to Thailand (yay!), and hopped on the shuttle back to the airport to retrieve them. The cargo area at the Bangkok airport is HUGE. We wandered through the front gate of the Customs “Free Zone,” found the Customs building we needed, tried to get our visitors' passes, and encountered the halting raised hand. Before we even left Kathmandu, we checked the Bangkok Customs website to make sure they would be open. Unfortunately, the part of Customs that we needed was not the open on weekends part. Feeling rather dejected (and rideless) as we walked out the front gate of the Customs Free Zone, we realized that we were now over four miles away from our hotel, and we had no little, baby blue motorbikes to get back there on. What to do, what to do? We discussed taking a taxi back, but decided that I was too cheap, eh er... the walk would give us a chance to “acclimate” to the hotter weather. As usual, Re was up for anything, so we started walking. I did have the GPS with me, so it showed the route back to the hotel. Of course, it wanted us to take the roads, since that's what it's configured for, but Re and I thought that we could go overland and save some time and distance (we both remember, from math class many moons ago, that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line) We hopped a small fence and took off across an open field. A few hundred yards later, we came to a stop. In our path was an approximately 25 ft wide khlong (that's what they call a canal in Thailand) and we could go no further without swimming. Instead, we turned around and followed the road back to the hotel. We made it back to the hotel before lunchtime, and after cooling off in the AC for a few minutes, we walked back out to the market, where we bought some pork and rice sausages, chips, and cold club sodas. Back at the room, Re took advantage of the 20 Baht (60 cents) washing machines in the hotel and laundered our fleece pullovers, long undies, and warm socks (I sure as hell hope we won't need them again for a while). For the rest of the afternoon, we worked on ride reports and blog posts, and plotted a rough itinerary for our first few weeks in Thailand. After the sun set, we returned to the night market for a different bowl of delicious soup.

train station lunch mmmmm!
Since we didn't get our bikes on Saturday, we couldn't leave on Sunday morning for Kanchanaburi as we'd hoped. Instead, we decided to take the opportunity to hopefully, find a new camera in the land of electronics that is Bangkok. Colin found the nearest commuter rail stop to our hotel and figured out where to change for the Skytrain to the MBK Mall, which has an entire 4th floor devoted to electronics. So we put on our walking shoes and walked two miles to the rail stop and arrived at noon, only to learn that the next train would not be departing for another hour and fifteen minutes. What better way to pass the time than to find some lunch? After inspecting the options among the rail station vendors, we pointed at the plate one of the vendors was fixing and said we'd like two of them. We got big plates of rice with chicken and stir fried vegetables with a perfectly fried egg on top. And it was really good. For just over a buck apiece. We love Thailand! 

Colin's dream job
When the train arrived, we got on and stood in the open doorway to catch the breeze and watch for our stop. Which we missed. The first few stations were signed, but the next several were unmarked, and before we knew it we were at Hualumphong Station, in the middle of Bangkok. Rather than backtrack (remember, that word is not in Colin's vocabulary) on the train to an unmarked and unknown stop, we decided to hoof the two miles to the mall. Our journey took us on a quiet street between one of the khlongs and a police barracks and right to a padlocked gate at the end. Rather than return from whence we came (see above note regarding Colin's memory gap in the vocabulary department) we climbed onto the wall next to the khlong, shimmied around the barbed wire, jumped over a fence and hopped onto the bridge, trying to look like we knew what we were doing the entire time.

On the way to the mall, we saw a Dairy Queen (!) and it was hot, and what is better on a hot day than a Blizzard? The correct answer is, nothing. We continued to the mall, got to the 4th floor and found ourselves in a sea of cell phones and cell phone accessories. With some searching, we did locate the camera shops, but none of them had the models we were looking for, and none were able to fix ours in the time we had in Bangkok, so we're still shooting blind in the photo department. The trip to the mall wasn't a complete bust- I purchased a new screen protector for my iPod and had it competently installed (unlike the job I did with my last one, which looked like a three-year old who'd been playing in a sandbox and eating a peanut butter sandwich put it on). And on the way out of the mall, we saw... the golden arches. We finally got our McDonald's fix of real, recognizable Big Macs (no dyed pink chicken slab) and embarrassingly gigantic supersize orders of fries, which tasted like the good old fries of yesteryear before everyone went nutty over trans fats. If we accomplished nothing else today, at least we dealt with our craving for American fast food for a while.

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