Bangkok, Thailand – February 13, 2000
I dedicated today to the National Museum, but was through with it in about two hours. Primarily, I learned that the Thais have had many wars with Burma in their history.
I wandered Khao San Road, observing the backpacker’s and wondering what compelled them to all dress the same and get the same piercings.
You can buy a lot on Khao San Road. Not coincidentally, it is the same stuff that the backpacker’s all wear. I wonder who started the current vogue fashions – the vendors or the purchasers.
Most telling on Khao San Road – a number of signs that say “we buy anything – Walkmans, backpacks, shorts.”
I am having a hard time reconciling the reputation of the “Thai sex tourism” with the working women of the country. They do construction, take fares on buses and boats, and seem to enjoy a good deal of equality with their male counterparts. According to the guidebook, Thailand is 31 on the charts of gender parity. There are 130 countries on the chart and the U.S. is number 27.
Dinner was at a nameless restaurant by the river. I always get out of Khao San at dinnertime. All the restaurants are the same and they are all packed with backpackers. Over by the river, though, there are several small trendy restaurants that cater to stylish Thai college-age young people.
Today was “joining day” for my next trip, called “Bangkok to Hanoi Overland.” Guess where it goes?
The trip is full. That means 12 clients, a leader, and a trainee. In an odd coincidence, the trainee is the same woman my group met at the Dawn of Happiness. Her name is Kate. I appear to have a single room – I’m hoping I get to keep it for the duration – as there is a spare man and a spare woman. They can’t very well put us together so I think that me and Hans, the retired Swiss man, get our own rooms.
The leader, Wendy, seems remarkably efficient and well-versed in all things Laotian. She knows a bit of Thai, Laotian, and Vietnamese has been on this route for over a year. The group is a mixed bag. I can spot a few irritating types right off the bat. But at least we’ve got a wider variety this time – one Swiss, four British, one Kiwi, three Australians, one German, and two Americans. And the median age has gone up to the mid-40′s, I think. Thank god for that. No more drinking contests. Although I actually went out with the group for a small drink after dinner. I must be starved for human contact!! Pikachu is not enough.