Thursday – Took a taxi to the Grand Palace, lots of tourists as this is one of the biggest attractions in Bangkok. There are spectacular murals, the shrine of the Emerald Buddha, beautiful art and statuary. Went to the museum in the back of the palace compound, which I had somehow overlooked on previous trips. After a couple hours of tourism, I took a tuk-tuk to Khao San Road a mile or so away. It isn’t much different than it used to be, though a bit cleaner. I remembered the last time I was here in 2000, seeing The Beach movie in a restaurant here, which was perfect. Had a non-memorable lunch in a sidewalk café.
Then I decided to look for Tu and his guesthouse simply known as “Tu’s Place”, where I’d first stayed in 1995. The walk was very familiar although the government buildings on the main road were gutted shells after having been set on fire during 2010 political demonstrations. The lottery sellers, the 7-11, the Mercedes dealership all were there as I remembered them. The walkway off the alley across from the service entrance was slightly more decrepit than I remembered it, new barbed wire on the neighbors’ fence. Just a short walk down and to the right, there was the guest house courtyard door just as it has been for 20 years.
Mu answered the door and we had a nice visit. Unfortunately, I had once again missed Tu who went to India two days before (he was away on my last 2000 visit, too). He’ll be back in December so I will call then, now that I have the phone number. The place was exactly as I remembered it, the teak construction, the green patio in the back. Even the Coke machine was still in the living room – by now it must be an antique.
Tu is evidently still into music but has no albums, and stays off email and social media. Too much time answering questions from potential guests – better they call or show up here, lots less work. Mu let me take pictures, we talked for a bit and then I went on. It was great to see things haven’t changed.
I also sent him breadsticks via Berlin in 1998, which is another story.
Took a taxi back to the hotel (driver got a bit lost but we finally found it after cruising the airport in error). Then I had a 90-minute massage at the hotel spa, it was really great (she had very strong hands an included a great scalp massage) though I probably could have paid half the price on Khao San. You pay for convenience. At least, evidently I do.
Missed meeting up with Michael and Janice, who will also be on the Bhutan tour, they’d gone to bed early by the time I finished my massage. We all went to bed early…big day tomorrow.
Bangkok seems much bigger since my last visits 20 and 15 years ago if that is possible. They are building skyward, with dozens of new skyscrapers and the new light rail (which wasn’t on my route but I saw it from the taxi). The new airport is near the port and I could see this is where stuff heading to the US comes from. Miles and miles of warehouses and factories, millions of people making their way around doing something or the other. Seemed prosperous from a standard of living point of view, if you count being in gridlock constantly as living. We humans are a funny bunch.