Friday, January 4, 2013

Bangkok, Thailand Day 2

The mall

Emma and Jp making friends. (Play is a universal language!)

Devon and Rick on the MRT (very similar to HK MTR!)

Rick and Lisa picked us up Saturday morning and took us to a shopping mall near a shrine.  Ricky, Rick and Lisa’s 17-year-old son, took Devon and Alexis on the MRT (Bangkok’s subway system) because there wasn’t room for everyone in their truck.  We all met up at a Starbucks.   Yes, Starbucks is everywhere (perhaps there is a corner of Africa without a Starbucks).  Everyone had coffee – some fufu drinks, others coffee black as it was meant to be.  Rick taught Emma to ask for ice to put in her coco to cool it down…in Thai – nahm kang.  She also learned to say thank you – cup coon kaa (cup for boys).  She delivered her new vocabulary with confidence.
This family paid for 8 dancers during their turn on the mats. The smoke is from incense.

Not sure why the elephants but I think you can buy them to worship Brahmin too.

Look up from the temple and you see the MRT, highways and a huge mall.

If you would like to buy a bird to release for your prayer too, you can.  They will go back to the shop keeper later.

Crowded sidewalk--watch for motorcycles!

All the flowers you can buy to put on the idol.

Next we went to the Erawan Shrine.  It’s a small square surrounded by modern city – we could see the largest shopping mall in Southeast Asia from the square.  The square was crowded with people burning incents, presenting offerings and praying.  Dancers would perform before the golden Brahma idol in the center of the square that air people’s prayers.  People lined up (and pay) for a chance to kneel and pray before the Brahma in front of the dancers.  There were also caged birds (setting them free brings good karma) and statues of elephants.  The incongruence of the age-old religious practices in the middle of a very modern metropolis was amazing.
People lighting incense.  Causes a huge blurr of smoke there is so much of it.

Brahmin is the idol in the middle of the smoke and flowers.

Shelley and Alexis went with Lisa to see The Hobbit and Tim took the rest of the crew to a big aquarium in the shopping mall.  The Hobbit was in English as was most of the aquarium!  After the aquarium, JP decided he needed a nap – on the MRT.
On the walk back to the flat, JP still unconscious on Tim’s shoulder, they walked along a sidewalk that had street merchants cooking in preparation for the dinner hour.  Suddenly, JP said, “Dad, you missed the crickets.”  Crickets?  What Crickets?  “I saw crickets back there.  You missed it.”  Were they alive?  “No, they were dead.  They were in a pan cooking!”  We went somewhere else for dinner.

That evening, we stole away for a dinner sans kids.  Walking along the street, we walked by a crowded street restaurant and decided to give it a try.  We were seated at a table and the hostess went searching for the waiter that spoke a little English.  The menu was in Thai, but someone found the menu with English descriptions (and more importantly pictures).  The waiter’s recommendation was a fine looking fish dish, which undoubtedly would have been quite tasty, but we were looking for a dish that has the fish head separated before it is cooked (at the very least, before it’s served).  Soccer was on the big screen so we had to communicate our order in between the roars that erupted with each shot at the goal.  We went with a spicy beef salad and fried rice with shrimp.  The food was incredible.  After our meal, we decided to order another dish of the fried rice and shrimp for the kids.  Tim waived at a waitress and motioned with his finger for her to come over.  Shelley then reminded Tim that that was a pretty rude/obscene gesture in Thailand.  Oops.  Shelley could see a couple of waitresses conferencing while looking our way, but they were at least smiling.  Our order was soon sorted out and Tim asked for the check.  The waitress brought Shelley the check.  Shelley handed it to Tim and he paid with a 500 Baht note.  The waitress then brought Shelley the change.  Before leaving Tim left a 60 Baht tip.  Shelley said she saw the waitress laughing and showing the tip to her friends.  All told, we left after an amazing meal (and take-out for the kids) all for under US$15.  I think the waitress got a good laugh at our expense (if it wasn’t an amused laughter we saw, we would rather not know) and we had a wonderful time.

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