As I look at the screen in the back of my camera, I see only fuzzy blobs floating around. It isn't until I realize that I need to wipe the fog from the lens that I am finally ready to take a picture. This is how humid it is at 11:00 am with 90+ degree temperatures.
Waking up in the middle of the night, it is hard at first to remember where we are. Walking down the street in Bangkok, it seems like we pass by a massage place, a 7-11, a restaurant, a tailor, another massage place, another 7-11, another restaurant, another tailor, and so on and on, like the repeating background of a Simpsons cartoon. The signs are in Thai but they are also in English, as are labels, directions, and instructions. The first clue is that everything is relatively clean, so we aren't in India. The second clue is that there is no graffiti or homeless, so we aren't in the US. The last clue is that we remember that we had something delicious for dinner earlier, so we aren't in Spain. A bit more awake, we remember: Oh, yes! We're on the other side of the world, but it's just not nearly so exotic as we thought it would be.
The highways to our tent camp have center dividers which are neatly landscaped for all the miles of well paved roads that we travel. Once we have finally passed the last car dealerships and furniture stores, we enter a tropical rainforest that could just as well be Kauai, Ecuador or the Mexican Riviera. This jungle is alive at night with a thousand sounds of bugs and birds and things I hate to think of, especially after having spotted so many giant monitor lizards along the banks of the Bangkok canals.
November 6th is the celebration of the full moon / high tide / end of monsoon season, Loy Krathong, and we arrive at our next town to the north of Bangkok in time for some of the pre-festival activities. Along the river bank is a good half mile of food stands selling pretty much anything you could imagine and a lot of things you never would have thought of. Most of them look intriguing, however there is the occasional misstep such as the pancakes-on-a-stick--a bad idea.
We try some coconut fritters, some crispy fried tofu cubes in a sauce, and some sort of little octopus balls in what seemed like an egg custard batter. It's hard getting used to the prices of food. Each ample order of these items was about $1.00 apiece. Even in Bangkok, a large gourmet Thai meal can be had for $25-30 for two with drinks and tip (and no tax). At the festival, we pass on the vendors selling fried crickets, cockroaches, worms, and grubs, though I'm sure they were all delicious and cheap given their brisk business. On stage are Thai singers, dancers and musicians in glistening costumes with well amplified sound systems.
Even after sunset, the heat and humidity soon drive us back to the comfort of our air conditioned hotel room where we watch dozens of glowing candle lanterns that float lazily up into the sky from our picture window.
Now it is starting to feel like Thailand.
The Royal Palace with landscaping by Dr. Seuss.
You've got your sitting Buddha, you're walking Buddha, your reclining Buddha, and your standing Buddha. This is from Wat Pho. Guess which one this is.
These were delicious. They take bamboo and stuff them with sweet sticky rice mixed with either beans or coconut or pumpkin or some mixture thereof and cook/steam over hot coals.
One of the krathongs. These are banana leaf floats that are set off into the water with lit candles and incense. You make your wishes, ask for forgiveness, and send it and all the bad karma off down the river.