Friday, June 6, 2008

Back in Bangkok

The train brought us back to Bangkok this morning and we checked back into the Amari. A hot shower felt divine after the grimy train.

We planned a day of sightseeing and boarded the skytrain. The skytrain was much more crowded than the first time we used it. Unbelievably, after boarding a train, we heard a voice say, "Robin?", and I turned to see an old high school friend from my AFS year in Belgium. I hadn't seen or spoken to her in 12 years, and she amazingly recognized me. She and some of the other Thai kids were one of the main reasons we chose Thailand to adopt from, as I felt the most connection with that culture and I loved their personalities. I'm still in contact with my friend Fone, also an AFSer, but I never had an email address for Rogy and, while I thought of her before our trip, I never in one trillion years thought I'd get a chance to see her. We both stood on the train in shock. The chances of running into each other on such a crowded train, in such a crowded station, in such a humongous city (OVER 6 MILLION PEOPLE!!!!!) are staggering. We could never have planned it if we tried. It was wonderful to see her, if only for a few stops before she had to get off the train, and I feel amazingly lucky!!! She's going to give us a call and hopefully we can meet up again while we're here. It took quite a long time for the high of seeing her to wear off.

Wat Arun

From the skytrain, we took the Chao Phraya Express boat to Wat Arun, or Temple of the Dawn. The temple is decorated with mosaics of porcelain.

It was HOT when we got there (should have heeded the whole "Dawn" thing) and the climb to the top was in the blazing sun. The steps were crazy steep - almost as high as my knees. Three flights took us as far as we could climb, and each flight of steps was impossibly steeper than the last. It was worth the effort to get to the top, however, as we were rewarded with both a refreshing breeze and a spectacular view of the Grand Palace and Wat Pho along the river.I'm slightly petrified of heights, so the trip back down was very slow and scary for me. Thank goodness for hand rails!After visiting the temple we were feeling hungry, so we ventured off the tourist track to find a little restaurant serving only soup. We placed our order and the girl dipped noodles and veggies in a wire basket into the boiling broth until they were soft. She pulled them out, plunked them in our bowl, and then ladled out some broth and meat from the pot. It was spicy, delicious, and there was no English anywhere on the menu. We were quite proud of ourselves. The girl working there appeared amused by us. I don't think they get many foreigners there.Pak Khlong Market

We took the express boat back south down the river and got off at the Pak Khlong Market. According to our guide book, it's known for offering the "best array of flowers in Thailand". Perhaps we were there at the wrong time of day, because we saw mostly vegetables for sale. The market was huge and we wandered through the maze of both indoor and outdoor stalls. We were stared at by the locals, as it's not a touristy place at all. Some of the stalls smelled so very wonderful, and I wished out hotel room had a kitchen so we could buy some fresh veggies to prepare. I bought a bottle of what I think was a palm sugar drink. It was refreshing, but so sweet I couldn't finish it.Chinatown

We got back on the express boat to travel one more stop to Chinatown. At this point, our guidebook and map both failed us. We ended up walking for an hour and a half down Songwat street, and then who-knows-where, looking for a street our guidebook recommended. We never did find it. We did, however, find every annoying Thai tuk-tuk and taxi driver who pretended to be our friend and want to help us each time we tried to pull out a map. “Where are you going? Where are you from? My sister lives in America, too. How long are you here? Have you seen the Golden Buddha yet? I’ll take you in my tuk-tuk – one hour for 40 baht.” We had the same conversation at least 4 times (5 if you count the guy who we flat out ignored because we couldn’t stand it anymore). They all started out by seeming to be very helpful and looking at our map. But then they would either lie about where we were (we KNEW what side of the river we were on for goodness sakes!) or tell us the Chinatown markets were all closed for the “1st Friday of the month” but they knew a great place for shopping deals. NO NO NO! we wanted to scream. Just show us where on the map we ARE!

After nearing the point of frustration beyond no return, we finally found a major street that was headed back towards the express boat pier, and happened to cut through Chinatown as well. What do you know – we were on the east side of the river after all, and the markets were in full swing. We enjoyed the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, and marveled at the number of little tables selling what looked to be lotto tickets, and the number of stores selling walls of gold chains. There was so much good-smelling food all around, but we weren’t brave enough to try more than some fried dough sprinkled with sugar (yum!).

We took the boat and skytrain back to the hotel, stopping at the bookstore to buy T's picture books, and then ate yummy dinner in the neighborhood. Tonight an envelope was slipped under our door with the schedule of events for meeting T. Kyle’s starting to get really nervous about Sunday. I’m not, I guess. I’m so incredibly excited to meet him, but I’m not really letting myself think about it or I’ll go crazy. There’s plenty of time to be nervous Sunday morning.



Jess & Ben said...

Thank you so much. We've loved reading through your story. I cried when I read that part about running into your old friend on the train -- the friend that was part of the influence to choose Thailand and she had no idea. I think that's beautiful. And the cooking class in chiang mai sound perfect. just my cup of tea. i want to go to the same one and get to know Yuri.
it has been very encouraging for us both to read your story, see your pictures. it brings this hope of a child - something that seems like an impossible dream sometimes - a sense of reality. here is the place. here is the people. this crazy adventure will be ours some day.
thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.
we will be thinking and praying for you.

Gator said...

That is totally crazy that you ran into Rogy! Sometimes it's hard not to believe in fate, eh? And I'm really impressed that you made it down all those steep steps - you don't even like to climb a ladder. I would've bet a nickle they'd have to call the fire dept to come rescue you! :) Thanks for posting all of those pictures, they're fantastic!

PS - I just found out today that one of my PEO sisters back in Bozeman is adopting from Ethiopia, and she got her referrals this week! (She got two, I don't know whether that means she gets to pick one, or whether she's taking both)

Mom said...

Hi Robin & Kyle,
Dad and I have loved hearing about your adventures. What special experiences -- I hope you turn this travel blog into a book all by itself; it's fantastic. Wish we were with you - but we're there in spirit. And now you're about to begin the most amazing adventure of all -- becoming parents. I wish you all the joy we've had with you and Meredith. Give Thanu a hug for us.
Love mom. ps - Punkin is doing fine.

Sharon said...

You guys are awesome writers, and I agree with your Mom! This adventure should be a book!
I have, like Becca, been checking every single day, sometimes more than twice! I am glad you are back in Bangkok so we have more of your journey to follow. Reading your stories just brings back memories so strongly that it leaves me in tears. I am ready for a very emotional weekend!!
So, I guess in about 24 hours from now, you will meet your little Thanu. How amazing. I wish you all the greatest blessings and your 'holt family' is right there with you!
Try to take in every moment as it goes by so fast, the next few days are going to be truly life changing and you are about to know love like you have never known it before.
You are in our thoughts and prayers,
Sharon and family.