This is long.
This may contain content that is unsuitable for children under the age of 13.
Our weekend in Bangkok was a weekend of firsts.
It was the first time...
Melanie was in Thailand.
Matt went to a Thai/Chinese wedding.
Melanie had a massage.
Matt and Melanie saw women shoot ping pong balls out of their vaginas.
We met up with Christian, Vi, Maichi and Payton in the Bangkok airport. It was a SAIS (Matt's grad school) reunion of sorts. We were all there for John and Veena's wedding. John and Veena met at SAIS, and they essentially invited any of their friends from the region to their wedding. We met up with Linda, another SAISer who lives in Bangkok, and we had our first Thai meal in Thailand.
We then checked into our hotel and went to get our massages. We had signed up for the Thai Traditional Massage - all six of us in the same room (Linda had to go back to work). I was scared out of my mind. They said that for the Thai massage your whole body gets twisted and rubbed and pulled. It was true. They start with the feet and move their way up. It is sort of like someone is doing yoga for you - with your body. I obviously hated the beginning, because my feet are so ticklish that I have a hard time putting sandals on myself, but when we were deep into it and I was trying to get myself to think about something pleasant, I realized that I wasn't enjoying it (though I really tried!). I think I just don't like to be touched, since I jumped each time she went to a new part. Matt enjoyed it, and I think he may have even fallen asleep during the back part. All in all, we were there for two hours, and my calves hurt so much at the end I didn't know how I was going to put on heels for the wedding!
After the massage, we took the BTS Sky Train back to the hotel. (If you click on that link, you should know that the Thai love their king, and their king loves yellow). We got a chance to relax AND play one game of Settlers of Catan before the wedding. At the wedding, John and Veena looked like they were having a great time, and we got to see/meet lots of SAIS people. Since we had gotten 3 (Matt) and 4 (me) hours of sleep the night before, we crashed.
Saturday, Christian, Matt and I woke up at 10 to 6 and went out to the Damnoen Saduak floating market - about two hours outside of Bangkok. We took a boat through the winding channels. The truth is that it was really filled with tourists (I would say about 70% of the people were not from there), but the idea of it was really neat. The people there live on canals, and they all get around by boat - the customers and the shop owners. The fruits were just beautiful. I thought of my brother who appreciates amazing fruits and Tom, Matt's dad, who loves rambutan.
Matt and I then went to Khao San Road, which is the center for backpackers who stay in Bangkok. (We were staying in the Four Seasons for a treat of a weekend!). We got some lunch in this veggie alley. It was such great food, and it was about $2 American. I love cheap, good food. We saw about a thousand Israelis, lots of the clothes that the Israelis who travel to Thailand wear when they get back to Israel, and Matt got felafel. We walked in the crazy heat to the Grand Palace. I didn't have any pants or long skirts in Thailand, so I was able to borrow one at the entrance. This is one of the most important places in the world for Buddhists, so it was important to show respect. The architecture was absolutely amazing. The colors, the different designs, the detail - it was mind blowing. We got to see the Emerald Buddha, who was a little guy on top of a lot of gold detail. The whole complex was just overwhelming.
When we tried to get a cab out of there, none of them would put on the meter, and they would say, "200 bhat plus one stop." Apparently they like to take you to shops where they get commission if the tourists buy things. We had to walk for about ten minutes before we could find an honest taxi!
We had a chance to relax and enjoy the pool and hotel for a few hours. Again, we were beat from waking up so early. It was three out of four days that Matt woke up before six!
We then met Phu, Ryce, Vi, Maichi, Linda, Adam and Christian for dinner. Ryce is Thai and just ordered a whole lot of food for us all. It was unbelievable. We ate great curries, noodles, fish, shrimp, and I can't even remember what else - but it was all so tasty! We then headed over to Phat Pong, which is the gross area of Bangkok (according to Melanie, but Matt would just say that it's local culture and I shouldn't impose my judgement). I had wanted to see these Thai girl shows where they do crazy things with their vaginas. I feared that it would be disturbing, but I was so curious (and Matt seemed to be flexible about the issue), that I figured I might as well check it out. We went into the back alleys, and there were TONS of strip clubs/show joints. It reminded me a bit of the Red Light District in Amsterdam, but it was much more like Time Square. We chose one, walked up the stairs, and there were about 8 women dancing topless around poles. Before too long (we must have stayed about 20 minutes), we saw the following "tricks":
1) A woman shot a ping pong ball out of her vagina.
2) A woman blew a whistle with her vagina.
3) A woman blew darts out of her vagina to pop balloons in the air.
4) A woman blew out candles on a cake...with her vagina. Yeah, people were singing happy birthday.
5) A woman pulled out a string of razor blades from her vagina.
I need to learn more about this trade in Thailand. The truth is that it was pretty impressive (granted I had never even thought to try those things...it seemed like it wasn't the easiest thing to do!). If this is a good way to make a living, and these women can leave when they want, then I'm happy for them. If they, though, get taken by pimps at young ages and aren't able to leave, or they don't get much of the money that people spend at the bars, then it is absolutely not okay. All in all, Matt was amused, but not in love, and I was very uncomfortable. We then went to a bar close by, and it was a much nicer atmosphere. We met up there with Heather and Jeremy, Heather being a SAISer too. Then we went to another bar on a roof top on the 64th floor. The view was pretty cool, but we had a person who didn't have the right shoes, so they wouldn't let him in. I hate places like that - where you have to wear the right clothes and be that cool to be let in. Give me a break. We're not that important - and neither are you.
Finally, we went to another bar that was close to our hotel. It had a great atmosphere, live music, and a 5o something year old lady who was dancing her ass off! It was hilarious. We then crashed again.
Sunday we met up with another SAISer, Noy. She and her husband, just bought a beautiful house in Bangkok. We ate more Thai food and got to see her pad. Then we went off to the airport...
All in all, I would love to go back to Bangkok. Near our hotel I didn't get the best feeling of the city, but once we started walking around in other areas, it is so clear how rich the culture is (and how good the food is!). There is just so much to explore. It was interesting to me to see how different Bangkok is from Singapore. It is just so clean and organized here. The language thing is also something I appreciate more now that I'm back in Singapore. I didn't realize how easy we had it! In addition, since we came home, we have seen that there are violent protests in Bangkok over the current prime minister situation. We had no idea while we were there!
In other, but unhappy news, our phone company that gave us our American phone went out of business. It is possible that we will no longer have a phone soon. I'll keep you posted.
Click here for the complete album of pictures from our weekend.