Friday, April 18, 2008

Thailand day 8-Bangkok

Today we went to the giant Chatuchak weekend market. It was really hot, I was wearing sticky jeans and feeling a bit sick. Still I could have spent the entire day shopping for trinkets and doodads, fabrics and clothes and a million other things for 1/3 the price of anything I could purchase in Germany. Jurij wasn't unfortunately as interested in shopping the entire day as I was, go figure, so we left after a couple hours and found our way somehow to the Jim Thompson House. Jim Thompson (1906-1967) was an American expat in Thailand who founded the Thai Silk Company. He was originally trained as an architect and designed his own Thai house complete with a very cool art and antique collection. He mysteriously disappeared in 1967. We got the tour and then ate in the adjoining air conditioned restaurant.

Or next stop was the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre. We saw a traditional puppet show about the story of Ganesh, a Hindu God (as I like to call him, the elephant dude). No sooner did we take our seats we had to rise to the national anthem and watch a short video showing the king in various activities throughout his life. They take their royalty very seriously and it is offensive to show any disrespect towards them.

3 puppeteers in black moved around each puppet on the stage. Subtitles or should I say a synopsis of each scene were on a screen to the left and right of the stage. I'm sure I missed a lot of subtlety not knowing Thai. But basically the story goes like this according to the subtitles. The demons are invading heaven so the main god decides that Shiva and Uma should fall in love. Of course thats what I would do if the demons were invading my heaven. Shiva gets hit by a love arrow thrown by the love gor and the 2 fall in love and get married. Sound familiar? Shiva tells Uma after some time at the residence that he wants to spend some time alone meditating. She stays alone at the residence with his friend. Great idea. While he is away his friend tells Uma that she should have a son to protect them. Why cant he protect them? So she naturally created a divine boy from the dirt on her body. The boy is told to fight anyone who approaches the residence. One day Shiva comes home with a friend and sees the boy not knowing who he is. He has his friend fight him but the boy wins. Angrily Shiva throws a trident at the boy and it chops off his head. A moment too late Uma comes out of the residence and discovers the scene. After Shiva learns who the boy is they search all over for his head but it is nowhere to be found. So they decide that the first head they come upon they will take. This happens to be an elephant. Ganesh now has a new head and after all that trouble is sent to fight the demons. Ganesh fights the demons, wins and becomes a mighty god. The end.

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