Sunday, November 23, 2014

2014, Day 326 - Ice boys

After a couple long days in Bangkok following a long sleepless flight we decided that today should be an easy day.  With that in mind we were still up early and ate a quick breakfast before hailing a tuk-tuk.  We were on a mission that led us to Wat Pho first thing in the morning.

Associated with the venerable temple is a massage school and we felt that we deserved a bit of pampering.  Not that it is a spa experience, far from in fact when you consider a room full of beds side by side where dozens of people are getting massages but the training that the masseurs have received is impeccable.  So we were literally the first through the door and soon we were being worked like dough.  Thai massage is vigorous and they use every part of their body to work out the knots while apply most of their weight to the targeted areas.  It was a little intense but afterwards I felt like I was walking on air.  And for the bargain price of less than twenty dollars for an hour.

Loosened up, we wandered the temple complex with take up much of a block.  Walk around the massive and stunningly beautiful reclining Buddha.  Watch the girls practice their traditional Thai dancing.  Try to dodge the other children who were in some kind of weekend class.  Past the forest of tiled stupas and all of a sudden we were back on the street.

When I was in Bangkok four years ago we missed the Jim Thompson house despite it being a short walk from our hotel.  When Francene suggested we go I agreed and after two failed negotiations with tuk-tuks we hopped a cab instead who agreed to run the meter.  As it turned out the tuk-tuk drivers wanted three times as much as the metered taxi, something I had suspected but not to that degree.

The Jim Thompson house is actually six old Thai houses that he transported to the current site and married together to create a larger western style home with Thai style.  While the home was pretty the grounds were amazing and his art collection extremely impressive.  All of the art is of Asian origin and of that the majority is from southeast Asia.  Aside from the art Jim Thompson is a notable figure in Thailand for his work on reviving the Thai way of weaving silk which, until his intervention, had slowly been dying out.  His story ends in a mystery as he disappeared in the late 60s in Malaysia when he took a solitary walk and never returned.  Authorities searched for him for years before giving up and his fate remains unknown.

At this point it was getting hot so we decided to head back toward our hotel and find lunch.  We decided to try another vegetarian restaurant we saw yesterday.  It turned out to be a good choice because we has a wonderful meal and the staff was, probably unintentionally, quite funny.  The kitchen is adjacent to the street and the chef kept calling out greetings to everyone who passed.  She was clearly visible in the dining room and we really enjoyed her animated antics.

After eating we went in search of a duffel bag.  On the way we came upon an old man selling amulets and charms.  Francene couldn't resist and eventually she purchased a few despite the complete lack of a common language.  Eventually we did find a duffle bag although it is bigger than we wanted it appears to be well made and the price was impossible to refuse.

Much of the rest of the afternoon we spent relaxing and we left the hotel only long enough to get dinner which was decent but ultimately unremarkable.  The rest of the evening has been spent reviewing our pictures and contemplating how we will pack for our departure on Tuesday.

Pictured is a group of young men that I have come to think of as "the ice boys."  From this storefront the grind ice which they bag and sent all over Bangkok by motorbike.  There is always at least four of them there at all hours of the day though usually only two or three are working while the rest nap in the hammock or sit upstairs smoking.  I suspect they own the business as I have yet to see anyone of apparent authority in their shop and we walk by a few times a day every day.

Fuji X-T1, Fujinon 56/f1.2R
56mm, f1.2, 1/125 sec @ 1000 ISO

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