Tag Archives: market

Khao sok day 3

Trying to get all this down.Blog is becoming out of date owing to business spending time with people, no electricity, no Internet combinations.

Ingo and I rented a couple of motorbikes, as did Elizabeth and klaus, and even though we weren’t travelling together we kept catching up and bumping into each other on the same road. We were trying to get to the dam on the lake. The only accessible point by road. We. Discovered this as we tried in. Vain to cut through the jungle, only to keep looking back onto the main road. The ride. Was great, lovely winding road through the mountains with not too much traffic. We made a coupleofentertaining roadside stops meeting very friendly locals with no more than acoupleofwords in English. At. The roadside fruit stall a ladywantedto pose clutching a bunch of huge green legume looking thingsthenwantedmeto photograph her friend’s dour and dumpy little girl, who kept. Her thumb in her mouth the shoe time. We stopped late rattle phanom junction where therewasalarge temple. Though it itselfwasntopenwewitnesseda funeral gathering behind it andafodand clothes. Market where we bought some juice.

After passing a checkpoint where ingo was asked to put his impossibly small helmet (broken) over his huge thick dreads. As if it would save his life….we rode a bit further and finally got to the dam and the viewpoint above which gave a vast panorama of the lake and surroundings.hereelizabethand klaus found us once more and we decided to do a boat trip together. It wasn’t exactly cheap but it was a. Good 2 hours of. Speeding and drifting past limestone outcrops, drowned trees. The lake is artificial with the dam only having been built in 1982. The lake was beautiful, but thefactthat it was man made irked a little.ididnt swim. With the others, fearing deep water, but it looked fun..they swam out for the boat and around a limestone mountain, ingo climbing into a small cave. The sun was beginning to set as we returned and the water looked shimmery and metallic. Beautiful.

 

The ride back involved a lengthy stop over. A the market again, where things were in in full swing. Fried bugs which ingo tried, a bingo tent,and a concert, which we were denied entry to by some security guards who tried hard to make us buy tickets. There was a stall selling very tacky holographic pictures of Buddhist and royal themes. I was tempted, but didn’t buy,ingo did. The ride from there was in darkness and the road was a bit hairy, unlit in most places, broken hard shoulder and. My back light wasn’t working. My workaround of suspending my torch from my back worked well, as after that passing pickups gave me a wider berth.

Oh, I forgot. On the way out we also came across the temple that I didn’t find the day before!

 

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Day 2 arrival in KL

First day in kl. a bit of a blur. Checked into lehotel again. Room with a window and wifi rightin the centre of petaling market. All very familiar. The same guys trying to sell me DVDs, failing that, games, then software then porn. The hot chestnut stall, the soya milk stall. I bought a much needed cover for this iPad then toured the stalls, getting bored, finally ending up looking for a vege place to eat in little India. I have only a rough sense of direction in kl, but always manage to somehow find myself back on the same streets. I find a pure vegetarian restaurant and get the sought for masala dhosa and mango lassi. And lo and behold on leaving realise I’m on the same street as the woodland restaurant where I went last year, and the year before. It’s getting dark, I scout around the mosque and the river that’s hemmed in with concrete embankments and cross over to visit merdeka square. If memory serves, this is the field where independence was declared from the British. Bizarely it is a cricket pitch, with that coarse shrubby tropical grass with a massive flag pole on one side, a row of black and wHite timber framed buildings on another, a gathering place with pools and benches and some kind of mini rally on another, and on the side fronted by the road, which is being casually dug up, a vista of Islamic grandeur with ululating colour changing floodlights, backgrounded by the kl tower and rows of sky scrapers. On the way back to the market I stop by the Hindu temple, where a wedding is just getting going. Drumming and horn blowing, saris and garlands, small children dressed up, and a hired posse of camera crew complete with lighting set up. I watch for a while then consider going to fetch my camera, which I do, but first shoot some pretty poor pics around the market. By the time I get back to the temple I have missed the action, and the photos are being taken whilst the guests queue up for the meal. Back at the market I buy a bag of rambutan and shoot some flaming clay pot cooking. As I get back to the hotel the clouds burst and we are treated to 2 hours of sustained tropical rain. Fortunately I’m falling asleep and my day or is it 2 days are ending as my eyes unavoidably close.

Day 16 – On the brink of getting out of Vientiane

i was planning to get the daytime bus to Luang Prabang and got up at 7am to sort myself out. But, the prospect of arriving there in the middle of the evening and having to search for a room put me off. I bought a ticket which means I will miss the passing countryside, but I hope I can see it on the way back.
After a chat with a guy from Singapore called Mervin I walk across the sands of the Mekong to sit by the water. and it really is like a beach with fine sand…and nobody there.
My novice friend and I have a chat by SMS (so weird when you think about it) and I get him confused when I mention my orientation. Either unheard of to him or just doesn’t get what I mean. I guess sometimes it’s better avoiding those issues.
Anyway I decide to spend my day on foot for a change and go to the veggie buffet place and am the only customer. It’s another 2 juice day, the best one coming at the end: lemon and mint…wow it really punches the thirst.I also devote some time to my book The Redundancy of Courage by Timothy Mo. Oddly it’s the second book I’ve read this trip on the subject of war. This is a satire on civil war in South East Asia. It could be Malaysia or Indonesia.
I spend most of the afternoon watching everyday stuff at the big central market, which was originally housed in a pair of temple-like cantilever-roofed houses.

The space between them has now been taken up by a newly constructed and unfinished modern shopping mall. There are a few shoe and belt stores on the basement and the first floor has a couple of jewellery stalls which seem to be being kitted out.

Other units are empty. The top 2 floors are reachable by escalator and there is no security to stop you wandering the acres of empty spaces and looking through unglazed spaces onto the roof of the old market and the haphazard overspill mess of corrugated roofs and tarpaulin covers.

Under these is a maze of stalls selling everything from washing machines to books to dried fish to yards of fabric. This is also where the hairdressers are. The smell of heated hair mingles with tossed threshed garlic and offal.

Women crouch on their stalls chopping meat, an old lady lounges among her baskets of oranges.

Porters wait to be called to wheel their handcarts across the broken concrete floor full of bags of goods. I am the only falang there.

This is not Tesco’s. Shopping is noisy smelly hot work, and selling looks exhausting. Brand presence? There is none.
Outside the new market (mall) there is a pick-up. On board is a Buddha statue, it’s a kind of portable temple. A young orange-robed novice sits in there cross-legged tying orange strings around the wrists of supplicants. An old man in regular dress sporadically bangs a gong hanging from the struts of the pick-up.

Now 45 minutes until my pick-up for the bus to Luang Prabang. Finally moving again.

Day 13 – Vientiane

Good morning Laos. I’m awake at dawn and get up by 8 for breakfast at the hotel. I then pop along the road to rent a bicycle. I bump into Marie, a French lady who I had met in the tuk-tuk at the Thai border, then again when I arrived yesterday in Vientiane. She is at the same hotel. The bike costs less than 1 GBP for 24 hours, and is sturdy, has a basket and perfect for investigating the hot city.
It’s small, compact, traffic is light, mainly motorbikes and people carriers and there are no high rise buildings. The streets arent very busy. The people I see, as with last night seem unassuming, gentle and laid-back. There isn’t a whole lot to see tourism-wise.
There is That Dam, a bear stupa that acts as a roundabout, which apparently was once covered with gold but this was pillaged by the Thais.

There is Patuxai, a kind of Asian Arche de Triomphe from the 1960s built of concrete. From a distance it looks quite decorative with Laos style motifs. I climb the 7 storeys to the top. The inside is bare undressed concrete and there are 2 floors of neon lit souvenir stalls. The view is nothing special but at least you can see the small scale of this capital.

I revisit the tuk-tuk station for some pictures of these remarkable workhorses: a motorcycle front end and a pick-up-style rear end on a single axle with 2 benches facing each other. I meet Marie yet again!

Then I cross the road and enter the food market: dried fish, eggs, fruit, women in wide Vietnam style hats crouching on the ground selling bunches on morning glory with yellow flowers.

Next stop is Wat Si Saket, the oldest wat in town, dating from around 1820. Its a bit shabby and you have to pay to enter. Also no photos. It’s famed for its thousands of buddhas sitting in niches in the walls of the prayer hall, also its crumbling and fading murals.
My search for some veggie restaurants in Lonely Planet fails, so I return to Setthatirath for a mango-pineapple shake, then to yesterday’s restaurant for the buffet. This is great value and has a number of Laos style dishes. The imitation fish dishes are too close to the real thing for me, but the curry and sushi are lovely.
This is my mid-afternoon blog. I’m now going to explore further afield and then decide what to do tomorrow. Stay here or move on.
Funny atmosphere among the travellers. Nobody seems very sociable.

Day 09 – Phetchaburi

Finally a good sleep, punctuated by barking dogs though.
Ray is still here and I help him plan his trip to the south. We decide to do some things together: first to the station to get the tickets for our next destinations, then I get a banana pancake and a fresh pineapple. After Ray has checked out, we head for the park at Phra Nakhon Khiri. It’s a hot day, no clouds but I am well prepared for the sun.
There is a steep path (and monkeys) up to the park, which contains a royal palace and a number of temples, flowering frangipani trees, rows of potted flowering bonsais and amazing views.

Each structure has a magical setting and is a little journey in itself.

Each has a view and at each point we end up taking things in and reflecting on some aspect of life. There is hardly anyone there, which makes it all the more wonderful. yet, the noise of the city drifts up and in particular the PA system of a van advertising I dont know what, but punctuating its announcements with blasts of Wham’s “Last Christmas”. Inappropriate? Just wrong!

A drink seller calls out to me “I love you” and pulls out her guitar and sings a beautiful Thai song. Later when I return to buy a green tea and she shows me the bites she has had from the monkeys. They are quite scary.

After a peaceful 3 hours we descend into town where the market is setting up. Fried insects…grilled squid…. sunglasses with Thai and Farang prices….piles of junk..cheap clothes.

And all the kids are coming out of school and calling out hello , then giggling shyly. Thai kids are so good-looking. Well proportioned, lovely skin, rich dark hair, smart and well behaved. Road workers  (women) covered from head to foot in the back of trucks going home. Boys on motorbikes with their girls behind on side saddle cruising through the traffic.

This feels really Thai. Nothing put on for show. People just living and doing their regular thing. Courteous, friendly, offering us food only to try in the market. The atmosphere is so genuine.
Back to base to eat and chat and…wow..this blog is now up to date.
Chang beer to celebrate!