Monday, March 3, 2014

Bangkok, Thailand, en route to Siem Reap, Cambodia, AKA Angkor Wat

Above is a market in a small town that escapes me off Inle lake.  the guy with the awesome turban is a Hill tribe dude.  Maybe O-Pa?  Note....they local hill tribes have stopped using their traditional cloths for head wraps.  Now they use towels.  From a distance you think "oh, how authentic", up close you think..."Oh, terry cloth".

Now, Back in Bangkok en route to Cambodia and Angkor Wat.

Last night was a quick jaunt around Mandalay, a visit to a market,
some trinket buying,
some snacks and back to the room to watch a Poirot (1989 era) and to bed early.

Up at dawn (again!) for a quick Cho Bawk (the strong sweet tea), then
cab to a free shuttle bus by AirAsia (the budget airline of SE asia).
A relaxing bus ride out to the giant empty airport (built by the govt
to be a hub, and instead it sees maybe 12 flights a day).

Check in. Through "security" (I put it in quotation marks because I'm
pretty sure the guy looking at the xray was also watching a youtube
video on his phone, this is rather common I've noticed, customs was
doing the same thing on the way into thailand. I guess you hand out
wifi and you must reap what ye sow).

Painless boarding, tho here I must digress a bit. One thing about SE
asia is they never ever ever use jetways. Well...maybe at the new
main Bangkok airport we did. But at the old Bangkok airport, now
local hub, and both Yangon and Mandalay we get parked way out on the
tarmac (I like that word, deal with it) and get bussed in. Now don't
get me wrong. I love that. Its In Myanmar I
thought it was about not using fuel to tow the plane in. You could
just taxi, shut down, fuel up then away. But in DMK (the regional
Bangkok hub) they do it too. There's an entire airport with "gates"
where we sit, waiting for our flight, then walk down onto the runway,
get on a bus and go over there to where the planes are lined up.
Sometimes you just walk over to the plane 100 feet away.

Its odd. And don't go saying "its about security" blah blah blah.
The security here is many many layered and all of them lax. In
Mandalay I came back thru after going out to use the bathroom and the
guy just waved me through because he recognized me.

I'm not sure what the many layered reasons are but in Myanmar, and a
bit here in Thailand I now realize, having a beard like mine is
considered not just odd, but somehow cool and even a bit special.

Today two women in customs chatted with me about braiding it (in
broken english and gestures) while I waited for Michelle through the
line. And in the streets of Myanmar many people complimented me on
it. The muslim and Indian older dudes most had beards. And would nod
at me and stroke their beards as I passed. One full on Swami looking
old dude dressed in colorful very fancy clothes complimented me and
bowed. I bowed back and we tugged beards at each other.

This will need some googling to figure out.

Anyway.....back to now.

In an hour we fly to Siem Reap (thanks Mom and Dad!!) and spend 5 or 6
days wandering around Angkor. I've got an amazing book on the history
including discussions of all the temples so I'm pretty psyched. Yay
old rocks piled up by humans!!!

Though now traveling I can't help but discuss with Michelle the
wonders of Mycenae and Athens, and the ruins of Hadrian's Villa...not
even going into the Gothic period and Cathedrals! There are so many
wonderful stone things in this world to see!!!

Well, for now SE asian stuff. Then we can go back in time next trip
to Europe. Oh...a historic stone structure trip! Start in Malta with
the prehistoric buildings, then over to Italy, a quick jaunt through
Pompeii, down to Crete, over to Greece, a spin through Mycenae and end
in the islands.

But I get ahead of myself.

Tomorrow Angkor.

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