We arrived in Bangkok, though I won’t be able to use a frame reference for time for quite a while. We made it just fine, but most of our baggage did not. Apparently most of our bags were were labeled “CMT” instead of “KMT” for Kathmandu. Google says that is Cameta, Brazil, so we can only hope they find the right hemisphere soon. We literally walked across the street from the Bangkok airport to the Amari Hotel and got a little rest. It’s a very nice place, and we think it was worth paying a little extra to avoid the hassle of going downtown to another place. This morning we had a fantastic breakfast buffet, or at least I thought so. Obviously it was an Asian breakfast and a lot of the items were “scary”, but I thought everything I tried was great. My favorite was this thing that was really delicious and I can’t describe it. But it was good. I was only limited by time, or I would have kept sampling the novelties. We dashed out to meet our driver, whom we hired for the day to take us through the city. We soon found out that there’s no quick way to get around town. We spent most of they day in congested traffic. First we hit the computer and clothing shopping districts. Most of the time there we were just lost, or we might have actually stopped to look at stuff. Next we toured the Royal Palace, wich was intricately adorned with all kinds of gold leaf and provoking statues.
The most interesting and insightful part of the city tour was our boat ride around the river alleys. We rode in what looked like a long gondolla with a big truck engine mounted astern. We rode through parts of the city that were quiet and personal, gliding past back porches and waved to friends or families just hanging out. It seems the river has a lot of its own life as part of the big city, and much of the country’s culture ties in with the water. I admit it’s not clear and pristine water – I hope the splashes I got on my arms don’t turn into a rash or chemical burns. I noticed there were a lot of dogs roaming along the river. We sure did notice the fish in the water. Just like a good tourist operation, we stopped at one dock where a girl was selling bread. All the catfish had learned to swarm to that spot because the tourists buy bread just to throw into the water. The water all around the boat would quake and the water would be replaced by catfish, sliming upon each other to get the bread. We were glad to find something to spend our money on though. We exchanged some US cash for Thailand Bhat, are a rate of US $1 = 40 Bhat. Most items are pretty cheap, like gas, which is at about 25 Bhat per liter, and sodas at about 15 Bhat for a can. However, there are plenty of tourist traps that take advantage of your lack of quick math skills when you’re figuring out prices. 400 Bhat may still seem like monopoly money, but it is ten dollars after all.