Thai For Two

IMG_0117Unlike the other countries I have visited and most Asian countries,  Thailand has never been conquered, colonized or occupied. Thais proudly ascribe their historic independence to strong leaders, which is one reason they are pretty sensitive about the “The King and I”‘s portrayal of very popular King Mongkut, who resisted European colonization in the 19th century.

Unlike Yul Brenner, King Mongkut was not a backwards, narcissistic hedonist.  Among other things, he promoted science and technology, improved women’s rights, and developed a modernized educational system.  And Anna, who wrote the memoir that was the basis of the movie, was not his children’s nanny or close to the King.  I hope I will be forgiven for how much I loved the movie growing up and knowing every word of every song!

King Mongkut was a forward-thinking leader.

Romantic but patronizing and historically inaccurate.

The people of Thailand have always referred to their homeland as “Mueang Thai,” which means Land of the Thai.  Until the 20th Century, outsiders referred to it as “Siam,” which means “dark” in Sanskrit.

During our last two days in Bangkok, Mags and I visited more historic places and a weavers’ workshop while continuing our search for the perfect massaman curry and the best deals in textiles.  Bangkok is the sacred and the profane — temples next to motorcycle repair shops, Buddhist monks in saffron robes walking beside tourists in tank tops, five star hotels hovering over alleys lined with street food stalls.  Although many tourists avoid Bangkok, we wanted to see more than we could squeeze into four days.

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The reclining Buddha at Wat Pho is 45 feet tall and 130 feet long. It is beautiful.

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A few of the many spires or “chedis” of the Grand Palace.

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We wound our way through alleyways in an old neighborhood near the canal to find a traditional weaver’s workshop. This woman was the only one there and did not speak any English so we had to imagine some of her stories while she showed us how she works the loom.

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This is the opposite of the important Thai principle of “Jai Yen” which means “cool heart,”or keeping your cool and saving face.

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Yummy street food — herbed grilled fish

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The tuk tuk drivers are a little crazy and there are no rules or seat belts but we laughed the whole way across town.

Last night, we flew to Chiang Rai in the far north of Thailand to continue our food and textile tour — more later!

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Here we are sharing our hotel “welcome drink” on our way to the airport.

“There are no foreign lands.  It is only the traveler who is foreign.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

8 comments

  1. Maybe everyone else knows who Mags is but I don’t. Picked up in Jordan? Friend from Bay Area? Would love to know. You guys either became fast friends or have know each other for years! Hugs.

  2. Mags is a slightly crazy Canadian I met in Morocco about five years ago. We kept in touch electronically and since this past February we have been on four more continents together. Mags is known for her artistic sensibilities, wicked sense of humor, incredible cooking, and good looks. Among other things!
    Love to you Belle!

  3. Slightly crazy??? Mags is JPN*. Undeniable proof is that she thinks Montreal bagels are superior to those from New York. Ha!!! She’s totally loony tunes… which is fitting considering the loonie is the national currency her beloved homeland.

    The confluence of Kim teaming up with Mags on this twirl around the planet has me in stitches. Between the two of them, I can’t imagine anything going as planned. I’m waiting to see a parody of their adventures on Saturday Night Live.

    But I must admit that I was totally taken with Mags’ exuberance, charm and wit when we met in the Spring here in Oakland and I’m kinda’ jealous of Kim’s opportunity to hang with her once again.

    *JPN is shorthand for Just Plain Nuts

  4. Clearly, Victor, you have come to the eye-rolling realization that Montreal bagels ARE , in fact, a superior smoked salmon transportation device. Hence this spouted jibberish to somehow mask your earlier deli roll delusions. Sad, sad, sad…

  5. Well, I haven’t met Mags, but since she is Canadian, that is ALL I need to know as a fellow Canadian! Hope to meet you one day Mags! Vic – sorry, I had bagels in both NYC and Montreal and they WERE better in Montreal. Of course, I was born in Montreal so I might be just a teensy bit partial to Montreal as a whole. Also, the smoked meats (when I still ate meat) were much, much better in Montreal than NYC too. Viva Schwartz’s! Love your photos Kim and I’ve now decided to add Thailand to my travel list!

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