Monday, April 14, 2008

Thailand day 6-Bangkok

March 28
Happy Birthday Mommy!

and that of the king. Really the Today we visited the National Museum. I got this confused with the National Gallery, a museum of Thai art, past and present which I really wanted to see but didn't. Instead at the NM we read about the detailed history of Thailand of which I do not remember, saw some cool Thai instruments and a whole lotta Buddhas. Buddhas crafted from wood, from metal from stone, small Buddhas, medium sized Buddhas, extremely large Buddhas, Buddhas with various sized ears. I visited about 10 rooms filled only with Buddhas. Although I acknowledge these statues represented years of craftsmanship and art created by the top artists from their day over the course of many many centuries, I took the 10 minute tour. 2 images you cant escape in Thailand are Buddha. Really I think repetition kills the meaning. Isn't that what Warhol was getting at? I definitely got Buddha-ed out. I sure was ready for some good ol pics and statues of Jesus, Mary and various saints by the time I got back to Germany.

Afterwards we roamed around Bangkok. Luckily I had one of the worlds preimere navigators by my side, Sir Jurij Pitako and we always arrived when and where we should have. I have a more go with the flow, see what happens and where I'll wind up approach to tackling a new city. I was able to convince myself that we were wandering the city my way by basically not paying attention to where we were going or reading anything in a detailed manner. Hence we wound up at the National Museum because thats where I told Jurij I wanted to go. Heck it was still a nice place.

So our next stop was the Reclining Budhha who measures 46 meters long and 15 m high. We were looking for the entrance to the very large 20 acre walled temple grounds in the middle of the city. We came upon one entrance that was "for Thai people only". Talk about discrimination!!!! Im going to sue! We got out out map and in a blink a very friendly man camje up to us and asked us. "Where you want to go? Where you from?" Jurij looking very annoyed said we were looking for the entrance for the Reclining Buddha. The man continued, Reclining Buddha closed. It closes at 4pm. I can take you to another temple. Jurij shots back, "but look here in my book it says its open till 5pm!" The man says, Its a Buddhist holiday. C'mon I take you to another more beautiful temple. Jurij suppressing the desire to beat this man to a pulp grabs my hand and instead we practically run through the man, turn a corner and find the entrance to the Reclining Buddha.

Its one thing to read warnings in every guide book about these scams and another thing to experience the scripted scam lines from the guide books come to life. You really want to believe that this friendly nice faced person is wanting to help you. Its a westerners instinct and thats what they try to exploit. Its very jarring. I wondered what would have happened if we got suckered into going with the man. I imagined winding up in some dark alleyway with a bunch of short smiling Thai men trying to sell us fake gems. They laugh unaware of the wrath of the Jurij bunny soon to be unleashed upon them. Howard Cosell's disembodied voice comments, "Its all over for the Thai gem scammers!"

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