Trat, Thailand: "Breakfast with the Monks"
June 24, 2002
Greetings from the “Land of Smiles.”
I arrived uneventfully in Bangkok on Wednesday afternoon. The trip, door to door, was thirty-three hours. That includes the three times I had to remove my shoes for inspection at Miami International Airport. (What price security?)
Bangkok is a huge bustling steaming metropolis of over six million. Monumental traffic and throngs of tourists. Nevertheless the city is calm, not so noisy and fun.
I spent most of four days just hanging out, and trying to adjust for jet lag. I did manage a walking tour of the amulet market with various Buddhist and Hindu deities on display, the Silpakorn University campus, and a ride to Khao San Road, the backpackers' paradise. I crashed at a bar where I watched Korea beat Spain in the World Cup match. I had some fun with a group of Thais. We were all rooting for Ko-re-a!
After the match, a small and boisterous group of Koreans paraded down the road, all painted up and carrying a large flag.
Yesterday my buddy Jeff and I took a five-hour bus ride south to Trat. The bus was air conditioned and quite comfortable. We stopped for lunch along the way. I think I know what I ate, but don't hold me to it.
Trat is a busy market town, close to the border with Cambodia, my next destination. Well almost my next destination. We plan to visit Ko Chang, Elephant Island. I hope we can just "chill out" for a couple of days at the beach.
I was up and out by 7:00 this morning. I hired a driver to take me out of town to the beautiful 200 year-old Wat Plai Khlong. The monks invited me to breakfast. I joined several other Thai temple visitors.
We sat on the floor of the large, open temple eating spicy fish, rice, sweet noodles and fruit of familiar and exotic varieties. After my obligatory "wai" and donation, I returned to town to meet up with Jeff at the market.
This was a pleasant and bright beginning to what I expect will be a special journey into the heart of Southeast Asia.